Recommend recipes for a novice cook who finally has it all!
September 24, 2015 11:14 AM   Subscribe

We've moved and now have access to a kitchen larger a postage stamp, a gas range instead of an electric, and super-easy access to an international market that blows my mind every time I enter it. I'm a decent cook and have my food processor and kitchen aid mixer attachments at the ready. Can you give me your best-est recipes, cooking tips, and purchasing pointers that might help us out with this wonderful situation?

So, let me clarify a bit so you good folks know what I have in mind:

I'm just looking to branch out into some of the things that I've found impossible to do in the past. A quintessential example would be making stir-fry tofu. I've got a thin metal, seasoned wok ready to go and I've tried to make the dish in it before but the fact that I could only ever find one brand/type of tofu (if that) and didn't have the super high heat of a gas burner to boot seemed to leave the dish wanting and/or terrible even. That's about the best example I can think of off the top of my head that shows past vs present and what I'm excitedly looking forward to cooking.

That and we just want to try different things but there's also a bit of a language barrier on some of the packages of food we're seeing at this amazing market, any tips there would be nice as well. An example of what we're I've run into in that area would be for packages of ramen, I'm sure some of those on the shelf would put US ramen selections to shame but, a long trial and error process excluded, I have no way of knowing what's what on the 2 aisles of ramen noodles I have to choose from.

Other facts that may come in handy, I have a kitchenaid mixer with various attachments up to and including the pasta rollers, which I have used and am not afraid to use again (mmm pasta). I also have a large cusinart food processor that I've used a few times but am still getting used to. Did I mention we now have the counter space to have all these things out and available instead of stowed in the back of a cabinet where we basically never got to use them without a bunch of pain in the ass shuffling? It's nothing short of amazing.

Lastly, we're [lacto, ovo, pesce] vegetarian but I cheat a bit for special occasions, the wife doesn't. I love spicy food, the wife enjoys it but not as much. We like ethnic foods of almost all flavors, from Mexican to Bangladeshi to Thai to Italian but we're not snobs nor are our palates all that sensitive or refined.

I'll stop there, thanks for the help and bring on the tsunami of information. If I make use of something you post I'll do my best to shoot you a memail saying how it worked out or, worst case, asking for clarifications as to what went wrong...
posted by RolandOfEld to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
We've gotten a lot out of buying the raw ingredients for curries (that is, buying the seeds and making the curry paste from scratch). Immediately takes a curry into the top 10% of restaurants we've been to.

The book to reference is Pok Pok, from the Portland restaurant of the same name.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:30 AM on September 24, 2015

Cook's Illustrated

Videos and books by Jacques Pepin.

Episodes of Good Eats.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:38 AM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is one of my favorite recipe sites:

Delicious meals, and they do sometimes require the extra ingredient and a blender. Great recipes to impress people and check out deserts too!

This stew is a favorite (you can make it in advance, it gets better with time, like, a day or so):

Good luck and have fun!
posted by hz37 at 11:46 AM on September 24, 2015

You have pasta attachments you say? Make yourself some goddamn amazing, fresh Ramen Noodles. Make yourself some vegan ramen broth, (recipe, since you do fish…you could probably pump up the overall umami with that broth as a base, most certainly rock some bonito flakes in that shit). Add some perfect soft-boiled eggs.

Then freak the fuuuuuuuck out at how good it all is.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:49 AM on September 24, 2015

If you have a proper gas oven, you should prepare yourself to fall in love with homemade pizza.

Here's my recipe:

First, proof 2 tsps of yeast by mixing it with 2/3 cup of warm water and 1tsp of sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes. Then, add 1 1/3 cups of white flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, and a few pinches of oregano and/or basil. Knead it by hand until it's a uniform sticky ball. You don't need to overknead here, like 5 minutes should do.

Then, take the ball and put it in an oiled bowl covered with a tea towel for about half an hour. Once it's finished rising, take it out, roll it around in a bit more flour, and then flatten it by hand or with a rolling pin.

Now you put on the sauce. I like to make my own by mixing 1 part tomato paste with 1 part water and 1 part basil pesto (homemade or store-bought). Add sugar and salt to taste (I like about 2 tsp of sugar and 1tsp of salt).

Put on your toppings and cheese and then put it into your preheated oven. Everyone raves about pizza stones, but I think they're crazy. With a gas oven, you get a better pizza on an aluminium cookie sheet than you do on a stone. The most important thing is temperature, which is why I am making this recommendation in the first place. You want your oven at 525 degrees. Don't trust the oven's sensor, use your own thermometer. Put the pizza on the bottom rack (as low as it can go) and it should only take about 9 or 10 minutes.

I'm hungry now.
posted by 256 at 12:29 PM on September 24, 2015 [6 favorites]

also I love Veg Recipes Of India
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:59 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Quick review of the replies upthread:

Curry idea is great, the last (and only) time we tried to DIY Indian food it was a disaster.

Cooks Illustrated is our friend as well... We have a chef aunt that feeds us her old copies. We glean recipes and techniques as we can. I've also started recording their show (I think?) from PBS.

Will check out the One Ingredient Chef, looks helpful.

Thanks for the Ramen tips!!! I actually don't have the pasta extruder attachment I think, maybe I do if it comes with the sieve type attachment... I have the rollers but maybe I could approximate the ramen with that?

The oven is actually convection, but we do DIY pizza/doughs all the time... I can adapt that as best I can to ours. I needed a passed-along-type dough recipie anyway, as I was just using Joy of Cooking's. I agree with Pizza Stones, although we did have one for a while that was a gift, it was ok but not in a *better* sense than a pan.

I'll check those last two sites out as well.

Thanks all!
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:51 PM on September 24, 2015

I was using Joy of Cooking's pizza dough recipe until a friend gave me this one (which I have tweaked a little over the years into the form you now see). This one is SO much better (and it cuts like an hour off of prep time).
posted by 256 at 3:33 PM on September 24, 2015

Oh man. If you want to give Indian another shot:
660 Curries.
posted by thirdletter at 4:42 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is the best recipe for pad thai I've ever tried, and it really relies on the the gas heat and a good wok, to cook everything quickly. Try it, you won't be disappointed.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 PM on September 24, 2015

Most ramen noodle recipes don't rely on extruders, but on the rollers and cutters. I find making ramen noodles much easier than egg-based Italian style noodles. Ymmv.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:31 PM on September 24, 2015

For tofu, I love everything I've tried using Isa Chandra's "Isa Does It" book, which includes a stir-fried tofu or two.
posted by freezer cake at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2015

smitten kitchen is a great ressource. So is David Lebovitz

For cookbooks, you could look at Ottolenghi's, and Elisabeth David's "Italian Cooking" will never run out of style. She has several vegetarian and pescetarian recipes which are tasteful but not spicy. Real Italian food is only spicy in the south, but lots of international cooks have added peppers and chili to dishes that were formerly mildly flavoured. Which I often enjoy - but your wife might like E. David's more authentic recipes.
posted by mumimor at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2015

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