Category Archives: The Nation Has An Appetite

Curry Chicken Pot Pie

By popular demand, here is an improvised version of curry chicken pot pie.

The good doctor requested fall food because the outside air temp dropped below boiling. We had a curry in London that resembled super smooth butternut squash soup with chicken bits, and decided that we could make that happen at home. After several attempts we discovered that we were missing some fat source be it cream / butter / ???. We shelved the recipe in favor of a Korma recipe that is always solid only to return to the idea when the weather turned cool(ish). To do this you'll need:

cubed butternut squash
cubed sweet potato
diced carrots
a toe of garlic smashed
a small hand full of raisins
diced chicken parts (we used breasts, though thighs would def. amp up the flavor values)
curry seasoning (make your own if you feel sassy)
a bay leaf
salt and pepper
pie crust (if you make your own then you win) (trader joes is pretty alright, pilsbury is more than alright)
pyrex or similar oven safe bowls (though some consumer groups say that pyrex aint what it used to be... so be careful when dealing with wild temp swings and glass cookware)

The ratios of this are really not hard math, I used a bag of butternut squash cubes from trader joes (because lazy), 4 carrots, two small sweet potatoes from my garden. I roasted half the veg to roast, and half the veg for the sauce. I ended up with thee of the 2 cup pyrex individual pot pies. I used the left over crust to make a flower top for decorative / more pie crust goodness


I roasted half the sweet potato and butternut squash along with the carrots to add flavor / texture dimension to the final product. I tossed the veg with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and curry powder prior to roasting in a 450 degree oven. I removed the veg when brown / starting to blacken on the edges (about 25 minutes). I dumped a handful plus of frozen peas onto the roasting pan after I removed it from the oven (both arrests the cooking of the veg and thaws the peas). While the veg is roasting I add the remaining butternut squash and sweet potato (you can also add some carrot / parsnips) to a 2 quart sauce pan with just enough water to cover, plus salt and pepper and a dose of curry seasoning, and bring to a roiling boil. Boil this mixture until the veg falls apart, and mash in the pan. At this point the liquid in the pan should be fairly runny. Add the diced chicken parts to the pan with another dose of curry seasoning, the bay leaf, a pinch of nutmeg (my secret weapon...) and the smashed garlic toe. Simmer until the chicken in cooked through and the sauce is thickened to your desired taste. Add the roasted veg + peas + a handful of raisins to the pot and simmer out any additional liquid. As this happens have your oven preheated to 425 (YMMV). Portion out your sauce / chicken / veg mix into your baking dish(s), and cut your pie crusts to hang over the edges. Cut some vents and bake until the crust is golden brown. (an egg wash will help with browning, but isn't necessary for flavors). Basically this is a boiler plate for seasoned chicken pot pie with no dairy. You could use (gasp) tofu, ginger, lemongrass, green thai curry etc etc etc etc as flavor enhancers.

you're welcome.

Monster-esque Cookies

I had these cookies for the first time at a Halloween party a long time ago, and therefore I always associate them with Halloween. I don't know for sure exactly what elements are required for a true monster cookie, but these are at least a close relative of monster cookies. While there's no small amount of sugar in these, they somehow don't taste overly sweet, which I appreciate.

1 cup (8 oz.) butter, softened
1 cup (9.5 oz.) natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) brown sugar
1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (7 oz.) old-fashioned oats*
1 1/2 cups (7 7/8 oz.) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. chocolate chips**
2 cups M&M's
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional; I didn't use them)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a stand mixer (or sturdy electric hand mixer and a large bowl), cream butter and sugars for approximately 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl.

Add eggs and vanilla, mixing for about 1 minute.

Add oats, flour, and baking soda. Mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips, M&M's, and walnuts (if using).

Use a cookie scoop, spoon, or your hands to form dough into 1.5-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating sheets on top and bottom racks halfway through. When done, the tops of the cookies should be just beginning to brown. Remove cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight plastic container or ziplock bag for up to 1 week.

*The recipe calls for quick-cooking oats, but I didn't have any, and I thought the cookies turned out great with old-fashioned oats.
**I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips because I love them, but any variety will do.

Recipe source: a lovely woman named Amy who may or may not have originally gotten the recipe from a Martha Stewart magazine

The Nation Has An Appetite: What To Do With Too Much Zucchini

The other day I posted a couple of links to baked zucchini recipes (Bread and Blueberry Lemon Cake (my recommendation on the cake is to find a slightly less/more lemony sweet buttercream recipe, and also to add some lemon into the batter if you like lemon)). You should make those if you have lots of zucchini, and I understand the bread freezes fairly well too.

Today I wanted to share another favorite, and I thought I'd turn it into content here, given our recent conversations about generating more and maybe some new Citizens. Anyway, I made it last night, and it turned out perfect. It's quick, easy, and satisfying. Can't beat that.

2 medium zucchini, chopped into 1/2" - 1" pieces
1 medium onion, chopped in 1" pieces
Pepperoni slices
Mozzarella or similar cheese
Your favorite marinara sauce
Basil leaves
Good hot dog/brat buns
Salt, Pepper, Oregano
2 tablespoons butter (or less)

1. Heat zucchini and onion in butter until cooked through, seasoning with salt, pepper, and oregano.

2. Layer a row of pepperoni and another of basil into the buns.

3. Spoon in the cooked zucchini and top with marina and cheese.

4. Broil until cheese is melted/browning.

It's that easy. So much yum.

Burrito Bowl-ish

I don't know quite how to say this, guys. I'm obsessed with meat's beans. I put this meal together to showcase the beans . . . and also so that I'll now have an easy way to find the recipe anytime I need it.

Quick Pickled Red Cabbage:
2 cups sliced red cabbage
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Meat's Black Beans:
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock

1-2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups spinach, kale, or other greens, washed and spun in a salad spinner (or otherwise mostly dried)


cooked brown rice
avocado, sliced or cubed
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream
tortilla chips
(anything you want, really)

To make quick pickled red cabbage:
Pack a 2-cup mason jar (or other heat-proof container) with the cabbage and peppercorns.

In a small saucepan, mix water, rice vinegar, honey, and salt. Heat and stir until the salt and honey dissolve. Pour hot liquid over the cabbage, making sure all of it is submerged. Seal and allow to sit at room temperature until the brine cools slightly and the jar is warm to the touch but not hot. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill. (Keeps for 2 weeks.)

To make meat's black beans:
Measure olive oil into a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Bloom cumin, chili powder, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika in oil (about 1 minute). Add minced onion and garlic and saute until browned. (At this point, everything will smell insanely good.) Add black beans and stock. Let come to a gentle boil and cook uncovered until liquid is reduced to a paste.

To make greens:
In a skillet, saute garlic in olive oil. Add greens and cover until wilted, about 5 minutes.

To assemble your bowl of deliciousness:
Start with a base of brown rice. Add cabbage, beans, greens, avocado, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips, or whatever floats your boat. As lovely as it looks after assembly, I prefer to mix together everything except the chips before devouring it. But really, eat it however you want.

Cabbage recipe modified from Food for My Family.
General inspiration from Joy the Baker.

Smoking Char


Ordered these fine fellows (Arctic Char) from Coastal SeaFoods on Snelling in St. Paul, approx 3 lbs each.  Originally I was going to get Lake Trout but they can be iffy to get fresh.


Soaked them in a brine (salt and brown sugar) for 6'ish hours.

fullsizerender-3Then on to the smoker with Alder chips soaked for about 15 minutes.


Turned the smoker on to 200F and let them cook for about 3 hours (turned up the temps slightly for the last 1/2 hr.  Meanwhile me and the brothers were chainsawing trees in the yard.  Awesome Alder smell from the smoker.  Can't get too far away as the chips sometimes catch fire and need to be doused.


Tender, moist, and wonderful flavor.  Char (Salvelinus alpinus) is a delicate, fatty fish - smoking is a great way to make it.


The Cruciferousing

I can't believe I never did a sauerkraut post. Really? Anyway, with my parents in town again for the winter, I've decided to make a new batch of sauerkraut. Lucky you.
Making sauerkraut is about as simple and foolproof as kitchen fermentation gets. You need a head of cabbage, shredded, some kosher salt, a clean dowel or some other implement for pounding the kraut into the fermentation vessel, and a fermentation vessel. I'm using a quart mason jar.
Continue reading The Cruciferousing

Gumbo for the people

I've long adopted recipes from the region I've lived in, and have adapted the spices and flavors of that region with all the other places I've lived. Dr. Chop taught me how to cook, and taught me how to think about flavors on the fly combining bits of this with bits of that to make delicious dinners (most of the time...). No place has influenced my cooking more than New Orleans. Truth be told I was a bit nervous moving down here as emulsified meats and strange seafood weren't really a thing I considered appetizing. I jumped in with both feet and have been rewarded with some of the most simple yet complex flavors on the planet, and Gumbo is the tie that binds them all together. (Lots of people will tell you that you can't cook a good gumbo unless your grandma's grandma taught you how to do it, and I call bullshit on that. You got this. I believe in you. Just don't stop stirring.)

I've adapted this recipe from Donald Link's Fried Chicken and Gumbo recipe from his book Real Cajun.

1 1/4 C Veg Oil

1 1/2 C Flour

Medium onion diced small

3 celery stalks sliced

1 bell pepper diced small

(optional additional peppers such as a poblano and jalapeno diced (depends on how much heat you want, there'll be plenty spice later on)

1 medium sweet potato peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 1/2 teaspoon filé powder

3 quarts chicken broth brought to a simmer

1 pound (or more...) smoked andouille* sausage sliced into 1/2 inch moons

Half a rotisserie chicken picked but kept in large pieces

optional 3 cups sliced okra ( if you use the okra cook it down in a separate pan before adding it to you gumbo. You'll actually cook the snot out of the veg which leaves a much, much more palatable finished product.)
*The Best Stop is indeed the best stop for cajun meats in south louisiana. Yup, I know thems fighting words, but hey, the wouldn't call it the best stop if it weren't They ship everywhere, and it's worth it. I made gumbo last night with some inferior andouille and it was lacking something je ne sais quoi.


Chop everything first. Once you begin to heat the oil you'll not have time to do anything but stir the flour, so prep ahead. This isn't a fast recipe, and while I do this on school nights all the time it's not recommended for those with kids or a desire to eat before 9 pm. Put the chopped veg into a bowl to be kept by the stove top. Next, measure out the spices into a bowl to be kept handy next to the stove top. Measure out the flour into another bowl to be kept handy next to the stove top. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a cast iron pot or dutch oven, and when a pinch of flour sizzles it's time to get your roux on. Gently, and carefully, add the flour to the pan stirring constantly with a whisk. 2016-11-02-18-39-16

They call roux cajun napalm for a reason, and stirring with a spoon will splash the roux out of the pot and burn the shit out of whatever it lands on. (Roux is a combustible liquid, and will ignite if overheated... no kidding) Using a whisk, continue  to stir the roux over medium to medium high heat, and as the roux begins to color gradually lower the temp. This will increase cooking time slightly, but will allow you far more control and lowers the chance of burning the roux. Stir all portions of the pan as a single bit of stuck flour will burn and foul the whole pot. Depth of color is totally a personal choice, but real cajun cooks say that the finished product should be darker than a moonless night. I have a different approach, I cut the roux off in between milk and dark chocolate as the flour will continue to cook when you add the veg. 2016-11-02-19-04-12

Add the veg and spice mix to the roux, but be careful as a burst of steam will escape. Now switch to a flat bottom spoon to stir. Cook the veg until the onion wilts and the peppers soften. Stir this often as you can still burn the roux. 2016-11-02-19-05-24

Add the heated stock to the pan and bring the whole mess to a boil. Adding cold stock will break the roux, not the end of the world, but a lot more stirring, and you've already stirred enough for one night.

Brown sausage in a separate pan, and add to the gumbo pot.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes and add the chicken pieces. You'll notice a lot of oil coming to the surface. Skim this oil off and discard. Stir occasionally, and put a pot of rice on the stove. When the rice is done the gumbo is done. 2016-11-02-19-53-12

So, I can't flip the photos, but really they're just here for color comparison.

Triple-Threat Cookies

Lest y'all think I haven't picked up any sports lingo in the nearly 4 years I've been hanging around here . . .

In this case, the recipe's name refers to the fact that these cookies contain three kinds of chocolate. Yeah, baby.

from The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming, via Epicurious

1/4 (1 1/8 oz.) cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 (4 2/3 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon brewed espresso*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, chopped**
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (4 3/4 oz.) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly whip the eggs to break them up. Add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla and beat on high speed for 15 minutes, until thick. (Yes, that's really 15 minutes.)

Here's how your batter should look at the end of that time:

While the eggs are whipping, place the butter, extra-bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or in a medium-size metal bowl suspended over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water. Heat until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove the boiler top from over the water and stir the butter/chocolate mixture until smooth.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined (there should still be streaks). Add the flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold it in. Fold in the chocolate chips. If the batter is very runny, let it rest until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

Here's my finished batter:

Drop the batter by heaping teaspoonfuls (yes, these are tiny cookies!) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, rotating sheets on top and bottom racks halfway through. When done, the cookies should be puffed and cracked on top. (You don't want to overbake these or you'll miss out on the cookies having a gloriously fudge-y center.) Remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer cookies a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight plastic container or ziplock bag for up to 1 week.

*I'm no coffee drinker, but I keep a jar of instant espresso (e.g. Medaglia d'Oro) in the freezer and brew it when needed for a recipe.
**The chocolate flavor really comes through in these cookies, so if you're making these, I recommend springing for the good stuff.