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Discussion Cooking & Baking — The Chaat Chat

Perhaps not the most photogenic of meals, but I’ve been having this a lot lately:

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“Medium” silken tofu, chickpeas, white onion, peas, edamame, salt, pep, paprika, lightly tossed in a reaper-based hot sauce, nutritional yeast on top. Super tasty, lots of protein, and it only dirties one pan!
 
I bought some rice and red beans in bulk and intend to really nail down my recipe for red beans and rice. Current goals:

  • Establish ideal sauce thickness for the red bean mixture. Past experience has shown me canned beans start soft and are easily smashed to help thicken the sauce, but I’d prefer to use dry beans that are healthier and I can buy relatively cheaper. My most recent attempt involved doing a quick soak for the beans, which unfortunately left them too firm to crush and mix with the broth. My next attempt will give the beans an overnight soak for better softness.
  • Find a way to impart more smokey flavor into the bean mixture. I’ve bought smoked ham on sale recently and diced a good amount of it for my red beans. It tasted good as a component, but didn’t affect the broth as much I would have liked. Considering a few ideas, such as pre roasting the peppers and onions to give them a char and them sautéing them as usual, looking into smoke flavoring, trying bacon for the fat rendering that the veggies sauté in, or home making my own stock with roasted bones.
 
I bought some rice and red beans in bulk and intend to really nail down my recipe for red beans and rice. Current goals:

  • Establish ideal sauce thickness for the red bean mixture. Past experience has shown me canned beans start soft and are easily smashed to help thicken the sauce, but I’d prefer to use dry beans that are healthier and I can buy relatively cheaper. My most recent attempt involved doing a quick soak for the beans, which unfortunately left them too firm to crush and mix with the broth. My next attempt will give the beans an overnight soak for better softness.
  • Find a way to impart more smokey flavor into the bean mixture. I’ve bought smoked ham on sale recently and diced a good amount of it for my red beans. It tasted good as a component, but didn’t affect the broth as much I would have liked. Considering a few ideas, such as pre roasting the peppers and onions to give them a char and them sautéing them as usual, looking into smoke flavoring, trying bacon for the fat rendering that the veggies sauté in, or home making my own stock with roasted bones.
reading this, I am tempted to say that even after the overnight soak your beans are still too firm to crush and thicken the sauce, maybe try to add some xantham gum to the sauce? A bit of an unorthodox solution (albeit one that chefs use all the time), but it works really good and could help you get that texture you get with canned beans. Same for the smokey flavor, charring the peppers and onions in the oven would definitely help, but as you said liquid smoke is an easy solution to get to the desired flavor!
 
I bought some rice and red beans in bulk and intend to really nail down my recipe for red beans and rice. Current goals:

  • Establish ideal sauce thickness for the red bean mixture. Past experience has shown me canned beans start soft and are easily smashed to help thicken the sauce, but I’d prefer to use dry beans that are healthier and I can buy relatively cheaper. My most recent attempt involved doing a quick soak for the beans, which unfortunately left them too firm to crush and mix with the broth. My next attempt will give the beans an overnight soak for better softness.
  • Find a way to impart more smokey flavor into the bean mixture. I’ve bought smoked ham on sale recently and diced a good amount of it for my red beans. It tasted good as a component, but didn’t affect the broth as much I would have liked. Considering a few ideas, such as pre roasting the peppers and onions to give them a char and them sautéing them as usual, looking into smoke flavoring, trying bacon for the fat rendering that the veggies sauté in, or home making my own stock with roasted bones.
Smoked ham hocks in the broth, and the smokiest andouille or cajun sausage you can find. The stuff they use in New Orleans is smokey as hell.

Serious Eats’ recipe is a good starting point, imo. I adapted it for Instant Pot and it’s my go-to.
 
I forgot to take a picture (bush league I know) BUT I tried this recipe from Molly Baz and HOLY HELL they were delicious:

 
Speaking of that, if y'all have any cooking Youtubers recommandations I'll gladly take them. Especially if they focus on the recipe, don't shout at you, and don't do ASMR. Stuff like Babish or what BLG posted above. Bonus points if they make recipes that are fairly cheap to do.
 
Speaking of that, if y'all have any cooking Youtubers recommandations I'll gladly take them. Especially if they focus on the recipe, don't shout at you, and don't do ASMR. Stuff like Babish or what BLG posted above. Bonus points if they make recipes that are fairly cheap to do.
Ethan Chlebowski does a variety of stuff, some recipes focusing on cost, some comparisons how different ingredients from different brands and price points compare to one another, and some other things.

 
Speaking of that, if y'all have any cooking Youtubers recommandations I'll gladly take them. Especially if they focus on the recipe, don't shout at you, and don't do ASMR. Stuff like Babish or what BLG posted above. Bonus points if they make recipes that are fairly cheap to do.
My favorite is Food Wishes. No frills, no gimmicks, still charming. It's where I've gotten most of my recipes. Chef John is the OG
 
I bought some rice and red beans in bulk and intend to really nail down my recipe for red beans and rice. Current goals:

  • Establish ideal sauce thickness for the red bean mixture. Past experience has shown me canned beans start soft and are easily smashed to help thicken the sauce, but I’d prefer to use dry beans that are healthier and I can buy relatively cheaper. My most recent attempt involved doing a quick soak for the beans, which unfortunately left them too firm to crush and mix with the broth. My next attempt will give the beans an overnight soak for better softness.
  • Find a way to impart more smokey flavor into the bean mixture. I’ve bought smoked ham on sale recently and diced a good amount of it for my red beans. It tasted good as a component, but didn’t affect the broth as much I would have liked. Considering a few ideas, such as pre roasting the peppers and onions to give them a char and them sautéing them as usual, looking into smoke flavoring, trying bacon for the fat rendering that the veggies sauté in, or home making my own stock with roasted bones.
Are you soaking the beans in salted water? The salt makes a huge difference in breaking down the firmness of the beans without them bursting.

If you don't have time for a long soak, you can also put the beans and water in a pot, bring to a boil, then take off the heat. Soaking in hot water will soften the beans quicker.

Also, Kvetcha is on point with the andouille. The andouille fat leeches into the beans and flavors them (this will also help with the creamy consistency). Smoked ham doesn't leech flavor the same way.

Smoked ham hocks in the broth, and the smokiest andouille or cajun sausage you can find. The stuff they use in New Orleans is smokey as hell.

Serious Eats’ recipe is a good starting point, imo. I adapted it for Instant Pot and it’s my go-to.
Mind sharing your instant pot changes? My attempts in an Instant Pot always set off the burn sensor.
 
Are you soaking the beans in salted water? The salt makes a huge difference in breaking down the firmness of the beans without them bursting.

If you don't have time for a long soak, you can also put the beans and water in a pot, bring to a boil, then take off the heat. Soaking in hot water will soften the beans quicker.

Also, Kvetcha is on point with the andouille. The andouille fat leeches into the beans and flavors them (this will also help with the creamy consistency). Smoked ham doesn't leech flavor the same way.


Mind sharing your instant pot changes? My attempts in an Instant Pot always set off the burn sensor.
(This is written assuming you can’t get regional ingredients like Camilla red beans, cajun smoked sausage, and pickled ham hocks that might normally be called for)

New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice
original recipe by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, adapted for Instant Pot

• 1 pound dry Central American (small) Red Beans, picked over
• kosher salt
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil, bacon fat, or lard
• 1 pound cooked andouille or other smoked sausage, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
• 4 ribs celery, finely chopped
• 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
• ½ tsp to 1 tbsp ground cayenne (exercise good judgment)
• 1 tsp ground sage
• freshly ground black pepper
• 1 smoked ham hock (optional)
• 4 sprigs fresh thyme
• 3 bay leaves
• hot sauce (Crystal is traditional)
• apple cider vinegar

Set Instant Pot to saute on high heat and add oil/fat. Add sausage and saute until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Season with salt, then cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened and are just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes.

Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add cayenne pepper, sage, and 10-12 generous grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans, enough water to cover by about an inch (6-8 cups), ham hock (if using), thyme, and bay leaves.

Seal with lid, making sure the release valve is closed, and cook on high pressure for 70 minutes. When cook time is complete, press ‘cancel’ to end the keep-warm mode, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes to depressurize.

Open lid and use tongs to fish out ham hock, bay leaves, and thyme stems, mash beans lightly with a wooden spoon or potato masher, if desired, and simmer on Sauté setting, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired texture. Season to taste with hot sauce, cider vinegar (a few teaspoons to start) and salt and pepper.

Serve over steamed rice.
 
Hello, Chaat Chat! If you remember last month's general discussion, one of my running gags was using various baked goods to solve my problems. Banana bread was the big one, but I also indulged in some pumpkin muffie cookies - well, tried to anyway. Both of these are actual recipes I've baked! After I got my own apartment, I began baking here and there as a hobby of sorts. I didn't get to make anything during February, but last week, I made more of the banana bread!

The ingredients for the banana bread, mixed within two bowls. The wet ingredients are in the left bowl, and the dry ingredients are in the right bowl.


When baking banana bread, I use this recipe from Becca Rea-Tucker at The Sweet Feminist. She hasn't let me down with a dessert yet - this is also where I got the pumpkin muffie cookies from, and I've baked a few other dishes of their's. The things that helps this one stand out are the use of chocolate chips and walnuts as optional fillings and topping it with turbinado sugar. It makes for a sweet and nutty flavor that I've keep coming back to.

The banana bread ingredients, having been poured into a bread pan and placed into the oven.


This bake was a bit of a rush job. My mom adores this dessert, so since she was stopping by, I wanted to have it done in time. I actually forgot to add the turbinado sugar at this stage, and I needed to take it out of the oven to add it! I had just enough time, even though my oven cooks things slower than it probably should.

The baked banana bread, still in the bread pan. About half of it was cut out already.


It's been nice to be able to bake things. It's something I can share with the people I love, and a good bring to any get-together. I never really did that when I lived with my parents, but being out on my own has given me room to experiment. And enjoy the fruits of my labor, of course!

A slice of banana bread on a panda themed plate.


Banana bread is a great dessert to make because it ensures that any extra bananas I have don't go to waste. I want to make more soon, but my partner has a lemon dessert in mind to bake. Can't wait to try out the recipe!
 
@Party Sklar @kvetcha @lattjeful So the first set of 7 or 8 on one plate was a bit burnt but it took 2 more tries to understand the microwave power. I would recommend trying and experimenting with this if you want and not worrying if you burn one side while trying. Outside that, I tested some pepper on one batch and it came out well.
 
Hi guys! Today I plan to make cinnamons, if I succeed, I will send you a good recipe. I've been trying to make perfect cinnamons 4 times already...
 
My favorite youtube cook is doing a "rate all the grocery store bagged/boxed pastas" episode and half the stuff he's covering is gnocchi and it's making me feel stressed
 
This tasted as good as it looks, and I'll be eating it more regularly now.

Steak Sandwich

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Started with a petite sirloin (you can get them relatively cheap; this was around $6). I've tried using round before since it's cheaper, but it's a bit too tough, while the sirloin was tender and perfect. I cooked the sirloin in a skillet, basting it with butter and garlic, until it had a nice sear but was still rare in the middle. Also browned two small onions in another pan. I let the steak rest for a moment, then cut it into thin slices (and again in half to layer). I have the steak resting on the grilled onions, and topped with arugula and mayo, on a French bun. I also toasted the insides of the bun in the skillet with the left-over steak butter. Cooked some roast potatoes in the air fryer to accompany it.
 
This tasted as good as it looks, and I'll be eating it more regularly now.

Steak Sandwich

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GJtvxrvXgAAj5aY


Started with a petite sirloin (you can get them relatively cheap; this was around $6). I've tried using round before since it's cheaper, but it's a bit too tough, while the sirloin was tender and perfect. I cooked the sirloin in a skillet, basting it with butter and garlic, until it had a nice sear but was still rare in the middle. Also browned two small onions in another pan. I let the steak rest for a moment, then cut it into thin slices (and again in half to layer). I have the steak resting on the grilled onions, and topped with arugula and mayo, on a French bun. I also toasted the insides of the bun in the skillet with the left-over steak butter. Cooked some roast potatoes in the air fryer to accompany it.
Looks so good! I haven’t ate one of those in years since meat is so expensive where I live. It also work with a flank steak and a baguette as a bun if you want a bit of variety.
 
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