Category Archives: Homebar

Best Bravas Sauce

Part of Home Bar: Food and Drink Tips to SurviveĀ Social Distancing.

The Spanish word brava literally translates to English as “brave” or “rough.”

And yet, while Spain’s bravas sauce often (but not always) has a spicy kick to it, the flavor is not as stringent as the name implies.

Usually incorporating a hefty dose of Paprika, chicken broth and tomato sauce, bravas is simultaneously pungent and delicate. It is intensely fragrant, and rich in flavor, without overpowering the taste buds. If condiments were paintings, bravas would be the Mona Lisa.

In Spain, restaurants only serve bravas with potatoes, as part of a tapas plate.

But I’ve found it goes equally well on rice, pasta and (Mexican) tortilla chips.

Here is my recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 large Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of unseasoned Tomato Sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons of Paprika*
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper**
  • 1/3 cup Chicken Broth

Directions

Cooking Time: 5 minutes. Makes enough for two servings of Patatas Bravas + two servings of Pasta

  1. Heat Olive Oil in a small saucepan. Add minced Garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add Tomato Sauce and Paprika and stir for 30 seconds.
  3. Add Chicken Broth and stir. Let simmer for three minutes.
  4. After this you have two options:
    1. To make Patatas Bravas: Pour sauce over roasted or fried potatoes. Mix 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise with 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic to make a garlic aioli. Add aioli to the potatoes with sauce, toss and serve.
    2. For other uses: Pour over rice, pasta, chips or whatever else serves your fancy…!

Steak and Ale Pie

Part of Home Bar: Food and Drink Tips to Survive Social Distancing.

When I need a rush of grease and carbs, nothing screams louder than British pub food. My favorite pub dish is Steak and Ale Pie.

Ironically, I discovered the dish as I was leaving England last summer. I arrived at Gatwick airport with some time to spare, so I headed to a fast-casual “pub-style” restaurant. I decided to break from my routine “fish-and-chips” (usually a wise choice, but one that was starting to become tiresome), and the “steak-and ale pie” was a featured item.

Airport Pub Pie

You know how they say terminal food can never quite match that elsewhere? While, this came close. I recall the crust being a tad rubbery, but the steak filling’s rich umami flavor–a tad smokey and a tad sweet–amazed me.

“I have to make this someday!” I thought to myself.

I had my first opportunity in November. I had collected pie crust ingredients before Thanksgiving but ended up buying pies for the holiday. So I resolved to make a savory pie the following weekend.

My steak-and-ale pie was inspired by an Allrecipes recipe I found online (using SeriousEat’s Old-fashioned Flaky Pie Dough). However, I made a few tweaks in the ingredients (e.g. substituting soy sauce and sherry for Worcestershire sauce) and process. The stew flavors came out even better than I had experienced in the pub, topped off by the melt-in-my-mouth crust, though the meat (generically-labeled “stew meat” from the supermarket) was tough.

This past Sunday, I gave the pie a second try. I used cut-to-order chuck meat and Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout for the beer.

I think I might have perfected this. Recipe below.

Okay. It doesn’t look pretty. But the crust is heavenly, and the rich stew (peaking its head out from underneath) divine.

Ingredients

  • Crust
    • Serious Eats’ Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough Recipe, courtesy of Stella Parks. Omit the sugar. You about throw in about a teaspoon of cheddar cheese, if you’d like, to enrich the flavor.
  • Meats and Veggies
    • 2 pounds of Chuck Meat, diced
    • About 1 cup of Diced Onion (1/2 to 3/4 of a large Onion)
    • One large clove of Garlic, minced
    • 3/4 to 1 cup sliced Mushrooms
    • 1/4 Cup unseasoned Tomato Sauce or Diced Tomato (approx a whole average tomato)
    • Diced Carrots (optional)
    • Diced Potatoes (optional)
  • Seasonings and Stock
    • 1 1/2 Cups Dark Beer, Stout and English-Style Brown Ale both work well (based on experience)
    • 1 Cup Beef Stock
    • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
    • 1 Tablespoon Cream Sherry
    • 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
    • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Make the Pie Crust following instructions in the linked recipe. When done mixing and kneading, divide the dough into two portions and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  2. Cube the beef and coat in flour. In a large pot, heat oil and drop in beef chunks. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until browned. Remove the beef from the pot, leaving fat and drippings at the bottom.
  3. Heat one tablespoon of butter in the pot in which you cooked the beef. When sizzling, drop in the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes (until translucent) and then add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup of the beer. Stir for 2 minutes so that the beer deglazes the pan (dilutes the beef drippings to absorb their flavor). Then add the remaining cup of beer, soy sauce and sherry.
  5. Re-introduce the beef, along with the thyme, pepper and salt. Then pour in the beef broth. Cover the pot and let simmer for an hour and a half (beef should be very tender when done).
  6. While the beef is simmering, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Take out the two portions of pie dough. Roll out one portion with a rolling pin (making sure the dough stays slightly below room temperature-between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit*). Grease the bottom of a 10-inch pie pan. Line the pan with the rolled-out portion of dough and weigh down with dried beans. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Roll out the second portion of dough. Take the bottom pie crust out of the onion and remove the dried beans. Spoon the stewed beef over the partially-baked pie crust. When done, cover up the stew with the second dough portion. Join the top and bottom dough portions at the edges and crimp with a fork.
  8. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Take pie out of the oven (dough should be crisp) and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

*You can ensure the pie dough remains at a cooler temperature than the room by refrigerating the rolling pin or placing a bag of ice cubes on the rolling surface.

Coronavirus Lockdown Menu

Part of HomeBar: Food and Drink Tips to Survive Social Distancing.

Two days ago, Governor Newsom issued a “stay-at-home” order to combat the COVID 19 epidemic here in California. Similar orders have been issued in Illinois, New York and Connecticut and will likely come to other states soon.

These orders have forced all “non-essential” businesses, including dine-in restaurants and bars, to close.

While grocery stores are exempt, their supply chains are squeezed to the limit on many staple foodstuffs. Plus, crowded grocery stores are great places to get infected.

As the outbreak worsens over the next few months, I will try to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible.

To that extent, I have come up with a weekly menus to ensure the food in my pantry lasts for about three months.

I conducted an inventory of my fridge, freezer and pantry last Sunday, after I completed my final round of grocery shopping. I revised the inventory earlier today to account for some deliveries my family received this week. The following food items were in abundant supply:

  • Proteins
    • 10 (14 oz) Tofu blocks
    • 10 (15 oz) cans of Kidney Beans
    • 10 (15 oz) cans of Black Beans
    • 5 lbs of Chuck Meat
    • 3 (14 oz) “meatless” soy meat
    • Four packages of deli-style sliced Turkey (9 slices per package)
    • Four cartons of (12) eggs
    • 5 cans (5 oz), tuna
    • 5 cans (5 oz), salmon
  • Starches
    • 9 (1 lb) boxes of pasta
    • 1 1/2 (2 lb) bags of basmati rice
    • 1/2 (10 lb) bag of Botan short-grained rice
    • 3 (8 oz) boxes of couscous
    • 1 1/2 (1 lb) bags of quinoa
    • 17 whole Sweet potatoes (12-13 lbs)
    • 12 Yukon Gold Potatoes
    • 3 large Russet Potatoes
    • 2 packages of tortillas (1 large,1 medium)
  • Vegetables
    • 12 (16 to 24 oz) bags of frozen vegetables
    • 17 (15 oz) cans of canned vegetables
  • Other:
    • Cereal and Yogurt
    • About 10 packages of Cheese: 2 large (32 oz), 1 medium (16 oz) and the rest small (8 oz)
    • Sauces:
      • 2 pasta sauces
      • 2 Salsas (about 15 servings each)
      • 2.5 cans of coconut milk
      • 1 Tikka Masala Sauce
      • 1 Soy Sauce
    • Spices
    • Baking essentials (e.g. flour, butter, sugar)
    • 7 frozen meals
Cans in my kitchen:)

I will be feeding my mother and myself with these staples.

Based on personal experience, my supplies of black beans, kidney beans, meatless meat, and tofu, will each give me 10 main courses.

The pasta supports more than 10 meals (1 box=1.5 to 2 meals, so about 15 to 20 meals), and the rice supports a little less (One 2 pound bag of basmati rice yields about 4 cups or 6 meals give or take. It looks that there is about 1 meal worth in the partially-open basmati bag and three meals worth in the short-grain rice container). The couscous and quinoa (about 5 to 6 meals each) extend the number of side dishes I can cook. The copious potatoes can feature in both side dishes and main courses.

As for vegetables, a 16-ounce bag of frozen peas can currently complement as many as 10 meals, so I might be able to make ’em last me a year.

Accordingly, I can forego shopping/deliveries for 10 weeks by sticking to the following menu.

  • Monday
    • Lunch: Open-faced tuna, salmon or turkey/chicken (2 slices) melt sandwich
    • Pasta with tomato or cream sauce, and vegetables
  • Tuesday
    • Lunch: Open-faced fish/turkey melt (2 slices) or pan-fried vegetables+”meatless meat” with left-over pasta
    • Dinner: Kidney Bean/vegetable stew with quinoa/couscous/rice* or sweet potatoes (Start with former and move on to latter as supplies dwindle)
  • Wednesday:
    • Lunch: Black Bean Patties for hump day!
    • Dinner: Leftover stew (tends to make more food) with a new side (quinoa, couscous, rice or potato)
  • Thursday:
    • Lunch: Second day of black bean patties.
    • Dinner: Vegetable Stew/Curry with either Tofu or Potato (Tikka Masala Sauce/Spices and Coconut Milk or Salsa: make enough for two)
  • Friday
    • Lunch: Treat yourself! Toaster oven pizza, frozen meal
    • Dinner: Round 2 on Thursday’s dinner
  • Saturday
    • Lunch: Weekend lunches are kinda TBD. Might push out breakfasts later to reduce consumption (bread slice with peanut butter+cereal+yogurt)
    • Dinner: Meatless Meat Quesadillas (1 large tortilla or 2 medium tortillas per person) with rice/potato as side.
  • Sunday
    • Lunch: See above
    • Dinner: Pasta (same options as Monday)

For weekday breakfasts, I’m sticking to yogurt (have about 6 weeks supply right now) and cereal (1 year’s supply).

I haven’t started the menu yet (I had takeout earlier this week, with leftovers lasting a few days). I will likely change up the days on which I cook particular dishes (e.g. black bean patties earlier in the week and deli meat later), based on my work schedule, how I’m feeling, etc. But I intend to primarily revolve among the set of dishes laid out above.

I will keep everyone posted on how it goes.

How are you planning to conserve food throughout the COVID 19 lockdowns?

Share your menu/recipe suggestions below!

*My mother doesn’t eat quinoa, so I would have to make a second side to accompany the main course.