BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

Bourbon-Eggnog Pudding

  • Prep Time 5 minutes plus 1 hour in the fridge
  • Cook Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $8.50
  • 24 Comments

Just a quick dispatch from my parents' house, where I'm with my family, celebrating our annual secular Christmas (we're Jewish, so there's Chinese food involved, but also cookies and the Phil Spector Christmas album). 

Tonight, we're going out for Chinese food like all the other MOTs in town, and when we come home, my mom will hand out everyone's Christmas Eve pajamas (don't tell her, but I got her some super-cute ones too), and we'll have a nightcap.

To go with the nightcap, I just whipped up the most incredible dessert, and I wanted to share it with you in case you're in panic-mode, trying to throw together a crazy-easy dessert using stuff you probably already have on hand.

I present to you, bourbon-eggnog pudding!

Imagine butterscotch pudding made with eggnog and bourbon instead of milk and vanilla. And it takes about 10 minutes to put together (and at least an hour to chill). Top it with whipped cream and lots of nutmeg! Or maybe put it in a baked pie shell? The possibilities are endless.

Happy/Merry ChrismukkahKwanzaSolsticeWhateverYoureCelebrating, and here's to peace on Earth. <3 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar Pantry
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch Pantry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, plus more for garnishing Pantry
  • 2 cups eggnog $3
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half $1.50
  • 4 egg yolks $3 for 6 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon (or other whiskey, or rum) optional but recommended
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter $1 for a stick

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. Combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and nutmeg in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (don't turn on the heat yet).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggnog, milk, egg yolks, and bourbon.
  3. Whisk the eggnog mixture into the dry ingredients and turn the heat to medium. 
  4. Continue whisking over the heat until a thick pudding forms (this may take up to 10 minutes).
  5. Stir in the butter and mix until fully incorporated.
  6. Push through a sieve or fine mesh strainer, just to ensure there are no lumps (skip this step if you are in a rush/don't mind lumps).
  7. Remove from heat, scrape into a glass bowl and let cool. 
  8. Cover the pudding with a piece of plastic wrap pressed right onto the pudding, not just over the glass (this prevents a skin from forming). 
  9. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until very cold.
  10. Serve plain or topped with whipped cream and more nutmeg.

Carrot-Feta Tacos

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Cook Time 35-40 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $12.75
  • 27 Comments

I have always felt like there is not nearly enough focus on the art of cleaning as you cook in recipes (though, ahem, there is a whole section on how to do it in Hot Mess Kitchen). Once it becomes second nature to compost your vegetable scraps as soon as you finish prepping your veg, to wash your bowls and whisks and cutting boards as soon as you're done with them, and perhaps, most importantly, to wipe down your work area after every little splatter, cooking becomes more joyful than you knew possible. This is extra-important in small kitchens (like mine), where you have very little surface area on which to spread your mess, but it'll make any kitchen experience more pleasurable.

And, there's another way to think about minimizing mess and post-cooking clean-up time, and it's become a new priority for me, now that Evan and I have finally convinced our baby that it's cool to go to sleep at 6:30 PM (and stay asleep until the next morning!!!!!! usually!!!!!!): cooking delicious meals with minimal clean-up so we can get to the business of enjoying our precious few hours of baby-free relaxation at night as quickly as possible. Basically, the math goes: the fewer pans I use, the less time we Evan spends washing up = the faster we are laying in bed, watching The Great British Baking Show (we're still working our way through the early seasons -- Mary Berry's gentle criticism + nice English people fretting over "biscuits" and "sponge" relaxes me better than a double martini).

And so, thanks to some beautiful organic carrots that showed up in our Imperfect Produce box last week, this minimal-cleanup vegetarian taco recipe (which I fully admit is not remotely authentic) has become a regular rotation in the 8-ish days since I first made it. After cooking it, you'll only have a baking sheet, a cutting board, a knife and a little bowl to wash, plus it's a great example of how to do right by vegetables by making them the star of a dish rather than forcing them to play backup singer to of a hunk of meat. 

The transformation of flavor that happens when you roast root vegetables in olive oil with nothing more than salt and pepper provides the basis of the whole dish's flavor profile. These near-charred bits of carrot and onion are a little smoky (you could totally amp the smoke factor up and add smoked paprika or use salt instead of regular, if you wanted).

Once the carrots and onion are roasted, the whole thing comes together quickly and easily. I toss the veggies with a simple lime-oil dressing to amp up their flavor, and also to provide moisture. Then I top hot tortillas (try the soft, flexible corn-wheat blend ones from La Tortilla Factory or Trader Joe's, otherwise regular corn or even small wheat tortillas will work) with the dressed, roasted veg, plus crumbled, creamy feta (goat cheese would be good too, or even avocado, for a vegan version, but I like the way feta's tang plays with the sweet carrots), a shower of fresh herbs and scallions, a few chilies and some crunchy pepitas, if you have some. The tacos are pretty light, so some pinto beans or a big crunchy salad both work well as serve-alongs. Or, just eat three or four tacos and call one of them your side dish.

OH! And if you don't have carrots,, but you DO have a butternut squash, you can not only sub diced butternut squash for the carrots, you can also roast the butternut squash seeds (here's how to do it)! Commercial pumpkin seeds are good, but I'd argue that homemade butternut squash seeds are THE BEST SEEDS EVER. They have a buttery, subtle flavor and a light crunch. I happened to have a bowl of them from a squash I used to make Naptime Soup earlier in the week, so that's what I used on this particular batch of tacos.

I like to assemble the tacos in advance, and bring them out to the table fully topped for people to grab and eat, but if you want to serve the tortillas, filling, and toppings buffet-style, that works too (even if everything cools down--the tacos are surprisingly good at room temperature, or even cold, if you are lucky enough to have leftovers) (you won't).

Ingredients

  • 6 large carrots, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks $2
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced $0.50
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided Pantry
  • salt and pepper Pantry
  • 6 corn tortillas (I love the soft corn-wheat blend ones from La Tortilla Fatory or Trader Joe's) $3
  • juice of 1 lime $0.50
  • 1 clove garlic, minced Pantry
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled $3.50
  • 1 large handful mint, chopped $1 for a bunch
  • 1 large handful cilantro, chopped $1 for a bunch
  • 2 scallions (green and white parts), chopped $1 for a bunch
  • a few thin slices of jalapeño $0.25 for a whole pepper
  • handful of toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) optional

Recipe Serves 2-3

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Toss the carrots and onions with 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper to taste, and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring about half-way through.
  4. While the vegetables roast, wrap the tortillas in a sheet of foil. When the vegetables have about 20 minutes of cooking time left, put the tortillas on a separate rack in the oven.
  5. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  6. Take the vegetables and the tortillas out of the oven.
  7. Drizzle the vegetables with the lime-oil mixture right on the baking sheet and toss well.
  8. To assemble the tacos, arrange the tortillas on a platter (be careful opening the foil packet--it'll be hot), and top each one with 1/6 of the carrots, feta, herbs, scallions, and chilies. 
  9. Serve immediately.

Crispy Fish Cakes

  • Prep Time 20 minutes (plus 3 hours to chill)
  • Cook Time 25 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $18
  • 27 Comments

When my daughter was about three months old, my husband and I went with a group of friends and their kids to the park in our neighborhood. Most of the other kids were between ages three and five, and they happily zipped without pausing from the monkey bars to the swingset to their parents for a snack refuel, and back again. I sat with a few other adults while nursing Anna on a bench.

"You know," one of the husbands turned to me with a wry smile, "parenting doesn't really start until your kid turns three."

"Oh, good," I replied without making eye contact with him as I shifted Anna to my other breast. "I'm glad to hear that I've been missing all this sleep in vain." 

After an awkward pause, we all had a tension-breaking laugh and then continued chatting about work and kids and preschool choices (eek), but his stupid comment stayed with me for days after our park date. I had taken a few months off from working to focus on taking care of my daughter, and though I missed having a professional world to play in every day, I was so absorbed in the minutia of new motherhood that I hardly had time to think about it. But if what I was doing wasn't "real" parenting, and the work life I had spent so many years building was on pause, then what was I supposed to call the way I spent my days? Was I merely a living, breathing diaper-changing milk machine/couch?

A few months later, I've been at this for long enough to know that there is no such thing as "real" parenting--that taking care of a child is a moving target because their brains are developing so quickly that nothing is the same from one day to the next. So too is my identity: I am a parent and a professional, and the two are not mutually exclusive. All of which brings me to these fish cakes.

The recipe, which is adapted from this one from The New York Times, is of many worlds. Flavorwise, the fish cakes are both a New England style crab cake and a Thai tod mun pla. They are sort of latke-esque (making them perfect for that mid-Hanukkah latke burnout), and yet they're also a protein-rich entree. They are just as good with steamed rice and garlicky broccoli as they are with crispy potatoes and creamy coleslaw. 

They are very easy to make, but they do have to chill in the fridge for a few hours before you cook them, so they require a little bit of forethought, but it's worth it. Also, these don't *need* the spicy mayonnaise dipping sauce I call for in the recipe, but they are seriously improved by it.

Give them a try, for Hanukkah, or just because it's Thursday. They are magical, delicious, and multifaceted, just like you.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons coconut, olive, or neutral oil, plus more for frying Pantry
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless firm white such as cod or tilapia $8
  • salt and pepper Pantry
  • 1 medium or 2 small russet or yellow potato(es), peeled and sliced very thinly (you should have about 2 cups of peeled, sliced potato) $1
  • 2 eggs $3 for 1/2 dozen
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped, divided Pantry
  • 1 large handful cilantro leaves and stems, chopped $1 for a bunch
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated $0.50
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped $1 for a bunch
  • 3-4 small Thai chilies or 1/2 jalapeño, chopped finely (leave the seeds intact if you can handle the heat) $0.50
  • 4-5 fresh makrut lime leaves, de-stemmed and chopped finely optional but recommended
  • 1 lime, zested, 1/2 juiced, 1/2 cut into wedges) $0.50
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs $2.50 for 12 ounces
  • ½ cup mayonnaise Pantry
  • 2 teaspoons (more or less to taste) Asian chili sauce, such as sambal or sriracha Pantry
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour Pantry

 

Recipe Serves 4

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until sizzling.
  2. Season the fish with 1 teaspoon salt and the a few pinches or grinds of pepper, add to pan and cover with water. Let cook for 3 minutes on one side. 
  3. Flip fish and continue cooking until just cooked through.
  4. Remove the fish from the pan and transfer to a plate. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. While the fish cools, add the potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and more water if needed to just cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Flake the fish in a large mixing bowl. 
  7. Drain the potatoes and add to the fish. Use the back of a fork to roughly mash the potatoes with the fish.
  8. Add the eggs, 2 of the chopped garlic cloves, cilantro, ginger, scallion, chiles, makrut leaves, lime zest, and panko, and combine. Season with salt if needed. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
  9. While the fish mixture chills, stir the lime juice together with the Asian chili sauce and the mayonnaise. Cover and chill until serving time.
  10. Place flour on a plate. Form generous 1/4 cup fish patties about 1/2 inch thick. Dip patties into flour to lightly coat each side.
  11. In a large, preferably nonstick skillet, heat 1/8 inch of coconut oil over medium heat.
  12. Cook fish cakes until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes each side, adding more oil as needed. Move to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  13. Serve fish cakes with the spicy mayonnaise and lime wedges for squeezing.

Guiltless Pleasure Pumpkin Cheesecake

  • Prep Time 20 minutes, plus 6 hours to freeze
  • Estimated Cost $15.50
  • 44 Comments

I realize it may not be what you expect from a food professional, but I really don't care much for pumpkin pie...or most pies, really. The filling is usually gloppy, the crust is nearly always either too dry or undercooked, and after a heavy meal (like, uh, the one pumpkin pie is most associated with), it's really the last thing I want to eat. 

So, it's funny that I made my way to this pie, which I have now eaten for breakfast three of the past seven days and cannot wait to make for my family (especially my pumpkin pie snob little brother who was extremely displeased with me three years ago when I made a Thanksgiving pie out of fresh butternut squash instead of the standard canned pumpkin pie filling he loves so much) this holiday season. 

One night a few weeks ago, while making chicken korma (a curry dish, thickened with ground cashews), it occurred to me that the lusciousness the soaked and pureed nuts brought to the korma could possibly, with the addition of pureed pumpkin and some spices, form the basis of a creamy pie filling, and since I love pureed cashews, maybe I would like that more than a regular pumpkin pie? Upon experimentation and with inspiration from this recipe from Minimalist Baker, I found that full-fat coconut milk (do not buy "lite" coconut milk for any reason whatsoever, OMG), added nice body and a surprising lack of coconut flavor, which would be quite unwelcome in a pumpkin pie, along wiith coconut oil, maple syrup (buy grade B -- it adds a richer maple flavor which works really well here), apple cider vinegar for tang, and a flurry of warm spices (cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) yielded the flavor and texture combination I was looking for. A sweet pecan crust completed the holiday theme.

 

Unlike most pies and cheesecakes, the filled mixture doesn't need to be baked. 

It freezes overnight (at least 6 hours) and then thaws slightly in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Tradition usually calls for whipped cream (or whipped coconut cream), but as previously stated, I like bucking tradition, so I top it with more cinnamon and pomegranate seeds, which serve the double function of underscoring the tartness of the "cheesecake" and looking like beautiful jewels.

It's worth mentioning that this pie is vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free, but don't make it for those reasons--make it because it's freaking delicious.

Ingredients

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cups raw pecans $4
  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates $5
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • dash ground cinnamon Pantry

 For the filling

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews $3.50
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or apple cider vinegar Pantry
  • 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk $1.50
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or coconut oil Pantry
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (use Grade B for a stronger maple flavor) Pantry
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine) $1.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg Pantry
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon Pantry
  • Pinch of ground cloves Pantry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or dark rum Pantry
  • optional toppings: whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, ground cinnamon, fresh pomegranate seeds

Recipe Serves 8

Directions

  1. Cover the cashews with water and soak for at least an hour.
  2. Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles a crumbly dough and sticks together when a clump is pinched.
  3. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. 
  4. Wet your hands in cool water and press the crust with into the bottom of the lined springform pan to completely cover.
  5. Drain the cashews, then puree in a blender or food processor along with the remaining filling ingredients until very smooth and creamy (let the machine run for at least 2 minutes).
  6. Pour the filling into the crust-lined springform and smooth with an offset spatula or scraper.
  7. Freeze at least 6 hours (preferably overnight) until the filling is firm.
  8. Let thaw in the refrigerator, then slice iand serve cold, plain, sprinkled with cinnamon, or topped with whipped dairy or coconut cream, or pomegranate seeds.

Naptime Soup

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Cook Time 1 hour
  • Estimated Cost $6
  • 31 Comments

Oh hey there, it's been a minute. Since I last posted, I've had a few things going on. I published a really fun book. Oh, and I had a baby.

Yup. A really cute one.

I spent the first 17 weeks of my pregnancy throwing up all day long ("morning sickness" is a misnomer to say the least), the next 15 weeks feeling pretty okay, and the remaining 9 weeks (she arrived about a week past her due date) fighting a weird cough and some lovely acid reflux. 

But then, she made her arrival and our lives were forever changed. I was treated to home cooking and takeout, thanks to some lovely friends who organized a meal train on our behalf, plus cooking courtesy of my generous mom who stayed for a week after Anna was born, to provide extra support. But once our core crew of friends and relatives had visited, held the baby (after washing their hands, obvs), and then bid us goodbye and good luck, I knew I needed to get back in the kitchen.

I know it sounds weird, but after our reality was permanently altered by the addition of the cutest human ever by way of a major medical event (giving birth is no joke!), plus the fact that I went from being just a regular person who happened to have boobs to a full-service dairy farm/breastaurant, I wanted to get back to preparing my own food -- it helped to resume something from our previous life.

Oh, and I had a bunch of fun new dietary restrictions. Yup, for the first four or so months of her life, Anna had reactions to my milk when I ate dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, or citrus, so basically everything tasty. 

Between having less time, fewer hands to cook/eat with at once, and a slew of foods on the "no" list, I knew I had to come up with something nutritionally dense but easy to keep on hand, and so this soup was born, so to speak (well, reborn, I guess--I've made more than a few pureed root vegetables soups in my time, and on this blog). 

The genius of it is that it's actually incredibly simple--just some orange root veggies, whatever you've got on hand, plus garlic, ginger, and broth or water. The fun comes in the garnishes, and that means built-in versatility. I like to make a big pot of it and divide it into storage containers that stay in the fridge. When naptime rolls around, I heat up a little bit, and then jazz it up depending on my mood. My current favorite combination, which I've eaten pretty much every day in the past week is a little gochujang paste, a swirl extra virgin olive oil, a few drops of sesame oil, sliced scallions, and toasted sesame seeds. I also love a little miso paste and a handful of chopped cilantro. But just about everything (including just a small shower of black pepper and a pinch of flaky salt, or even nothing at all) is delicious.

I usually eat it with a toasted English muffin topped with egg salad (eggs are, thankfully, back on the menu now) and the baby monitor in close view.

And the best part? It's a very family-frieindly food :-) 

 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds peeled, chopped sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, or a mixture of whatever you've got on hand $5
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pot pantry
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, diced $0.50
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped pantry
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped $0.50 
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • optional mix-ins: sesame oil, sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, gojuchang, miso paste, sriracha

Recipe Serves 6

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the root vegetables of your choosing in the olive oil and salt and pepper, and divide between two rimmed baking sheets. 
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until very tender and browned in spots.
  4. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  5. Sauté the onion until soft and slightly browned.
  6. Add the garlic and the ginger and sauté with the onions for 1 minute.
  7. Add the roasted roots and the broth or water.
  8. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft enough to easily squish with the back of a fork.
  10. Puree by either working in batches, using a food processor or blender, or use an immersion blender and puree right in the pot.
  11. Serve plain or with one or two of the mix-ins added directly to the bowl.