Issue 5.5 May 2020: What to Cook While Quarantined

Things to Cook in Quarantine When You're Hungry

This is a special issue of NEED, for everyone stuck at home wondering what the heck to cook.

In This Issue

  • Brownie Cookies

  • Cowboy Candy

  • Golden Rice

  • Greek-Style Green Beans

  • World’s Best (and Easiest) Pasta Sauce

  • Restaurant-Style Salsa

  • Chickpea Chili Verde

Brownie Cookies

Listen, we all have priorities and I assume those priorities are chocolate. This recipe also appeared in issue 5 for subscribers, but everyone deserves chocolate.

I have combined ingredients and methods from these two recipes: The Jo Baker and Smitten Kitchen.

  • 4 ounces unsweetened/baker’s chocolate (if you only have bittersweet, reduce granulated sugar to 3 tablespoons; if you only have semisweet, reduce granulated sugar to 2 tablespoons)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (if you only have salted butter, eliminate salt)

  • 1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed (pressed down into measuring cup)

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (see note after chocolate)

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt (see note after butter)

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (Dutch processed if you have it, but any is fine)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • Optional: flaky salt such as kosher, 1–2 tablespoons should be plenty

Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare baking sheets—I used two half sheet pans and one quarter sheet pan, lined with parchment paper. The cookies spread less than I anticipated, and I could have gotten away with just using the two half sheet pans, but it may be better to err on the side of allowing too much room between cookies.

Make a double boiler: heat about two inches of water to a simmer in a large sauce pan. Place a glass or metal bowl on top of the pot, and melt the butter and chocolate together in the bowl. Remove from heat and stir well.

Combine the eggs and sugars in an electric mixer and mix on medium to medium-high for about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and the chocolate-butter mixture and mix for another minute. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt (if using), and baking soda. Add them slowly to the mixer, mixing on medium-low to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Use a spoon or scoop (and your hands if necessary) to make 1.5–2 tablespoon balls, placing them 2–3 inches apart on your prepared sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes. Cookies will be done at the edges and very soft in the middle. Optionally, sprinkle flaky salt on top of the hot cookies. Let cool for 5 minutes on trays, then transfer to racks. At this point they will be okay (and delicious) to eat, but if you can stand to let them cool all the way they will be less likely to fall apart in your hands.

This makes a lot of cookies and can easily be halved, but they’re really good, so…

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)

I consulted a bunch of recipes on ye olde internete and then just sort of did my own thing. The recipe at Homemade Hooplah is very close to what I ended up doing.

  • 1 pound jalapeños, sliced into rounds, seeds and pith removed if desired

  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled, larger cloves cut in half or quartered

  • 2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt or celery seed

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle (cayenne may be substituted)

In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, combine everything except the jalapeños and garlic. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add jalapeños and garlic and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon, letting as much of the sugar mixture as possible remain in the pot.

Increase heat and boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Put jalapeños and garlic into a heat-proof, refrigerator-safe container with a lid, such as a glass canning jar. Pour over the pot liquid. Let cool for 20 minutes, then put the lid on and refrigerate. Allow to cool completely in the fridge before eating (if you can stand to wait).

Note that this candy has a major kick, especially if you leave the seeds and pith. Also be aware that the capsicum may be released into the air—my family was coughing for an hour after I made this! (Worth it.)

Golden Rice

Based on this recipe, with some additions that I find makes it even better. I don’t like it soupy, so I don’t add extra broth, but you certainly can!

  • 2 T butter (ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil would work nicely)

  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped

  • 1 T grated ginger

  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

  • 1 t turmeric

  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1.5 cups rice, any variety (the amount of liquid in this recipe works for white rices only—brown will need more liquid and longer cooking time)

  • 1.5 cups water or broth

  • 14 oz can coconut milk

Heat butter over medium-low heat and sauté onion until it wilts, then add the ginger and garlic and cook until very fragrant. Add the spices, and when it smells so good you almost can’t stand it (about 30 seconds to one minute), add the rice. Stir to coat with the butter and aromatics, then add the liquids. Turn temperature to medium-high and bring to a low boil, then immediately turn the temperature to low and cover. Cook 10 minutes, then stir thoroughly and cook 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and keep covered for an additional 10 minutes.

Greek-Style Green Beans

This is based on my vague memory of a recipe I used to have from my favorite local Greek restaurant and grocer, Papa Cristo’s/C&K Importing. These go super well with the golden rice.

  • 2 T olive oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced in quarter moons

  • 4 big cloves garlic, sliced

  • Red pepper flakes to taste

  • Pepper to taste

  • 1 t salt, or to taste

  • 1 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed and cut to 1.5-inch pieces

  • 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • ~1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, chopped

Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add salt and peppers. Add green beans and tomatoes and stir. If tomatoes are thick, add a little water. Cook, covered, for 10–15 minutes, stirring and adding water if needed to make sure you don’t end up with tomato paste. When the beans are cooked through, add the parsley and taste to adjust seasoning if necessary. Good right away or at room temperature.

World’s Best (and Easiest) Pasta Sauce

This is Marcella Hazan’s recipe, approximated (I have absolutely no idea what amounts she uses).

  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, ideally peeled/crushed, but any will do—just chop whole tomatoes or crush them with your fingers

  • 1/2 onion, any variety, peeled

  • 4 T (half a stick) salted butter (if using unsalted butter add 1/2 t salt)

Put the onion cut-side down in a saucepan or dutch oven. Pour the entire contents of the can of tomatoes over it, scraping out any that sticks to the sides or adding a little water to the can to swirl out the stuck-on tomatoes. Add the butter, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Y’all. That’s it. You may be thinking, But Annika, you are Italian and there is no garlic in this recipe. That is correct. I have tried adding garlic and it does not work. Do not add anything to this recipe. The only exception is using a little red wine in place of water to “clean” the tomato can. Please trust me.

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Based on this Kitchn recipe. This salsa is good on EVERYTHING (seriously, I have put it on rice, eggs, bread, literally any vehicle I could find for the salsa).

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1–3 chipotles in adobe, removed from the can (1=mild, 3=hot)

  • 1/2 onion (totally optional, I can’t taste the difference)

  • 1 bunch cilantro, course stems removed

  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, any variety

  • juice of a lime or two

  • salt (optional)

Place the first four ingredients in a food processor or blender and run until the garlic is finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until desired texture. Optional: “fry” in a tablespoon of neutral oil before serving. May be stored in the fridge for at least one week (I have never had it last longer).

Chickpea Chili Verde

  • 1 pound garbanzo beans, rinsed, or 2–3 cans with their liquid

  • Splash neutral oil such as sunflower

  • 1 white onion, chopped

  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped (optional)

  • 1 t salt plus more to taste

  • 5-10 tomatillos, roughly chopped

  • 8 oz green salsa

  • 8 ounces beer (I use NA, water is also fine)

  • 1 bunch cilantro (if you like cilantro), tough stems removed, chopped

Cook the garbanzo beans until nearly done (I cover with 1 inch of water in the Instant Pot for 24 minutes at high pressure with 20 minute release) or open the cans.

Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat and add oil, then onions, jalapeños if using, and salt. Sautés until softened, then add tomatillos. Cook until very soft. Add entire jar of salsa. If desired, use immersion blender to liquify vegetable chunks. Add beer, beans, and bean cooking liquid. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes, then taste and adjust salt. Simmer until beans are perfectly tender. Add cilantro, if using.

I like it served over rice with lots of Monterey Jack cheese and sour cream.

Variations: you can use more tomatillos and make it all fresh instead of using salsa.

Want to support me and my writing? Here are some ways to do that:

Give a gift subscription

Just trying to get by? Don’t worry, I will always send out free stuff.

Loading more posts…