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Chickpeas, Mushrooms and Italian Sausage

20 May

This was an amazing dish considering I left my home this morning thinking I needed to go grocery shopping and then decided to skip out and graze lazily instead of cooking something I could keep for lunch at work the next day.  This laziness was inexcusable, considering I had just organized an Earth Day event at work, and one of the tips we gave was for people to take their lunches to work instead of ordering.

As it turns out, I had more than enough ingredients at home; I just hadn’t imagined them together before they actually came together in the pan.  Now I can go to sleep tonight without feeling like a hypocrite because I’ve got plenty of leftovers.  I served the dish below over brown rice, but it’s good alone as well.


1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 cups cherry tomatoes, run through a food processor until minced with juices
15 brown Chinese mushrooms, or shittake mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 T. butter
fresh basil
4 links (more or less 1 lb.) Italian sausage
lemon juice from one half a lemon
1 t. cumin
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. bread crumbs, finely ground 


Brown sausage as whole links in pan, cooking covered over a medium-low heat with 1/4 c. water until cooked through. Partially cover, turn up heat and then brown slightly before removing from pan and letting drain.

Add 1/2 butter to a pan and let melt.  Add onion and saute until sweating and then add mushrooms.  When mushrooms begin to wilt, add the rest of the butter and bread crumbs.  Add cumin and red wine vinegar, and mix thoroughly.  Add chickpeas and combine, then add tomatoes.  Heat through for about 3 minutes, then add fresh basil in whole leaves and lemon juice.  Add sausage, cut into 1/2 in. pieces.  Combine and remove from heat.


That amazingly-talented woman on has a chickpea and garbanzo bean recipe that I adore, and she has a breadcrumb base that I can’t get enough of.  It inspired this dish, and next time I make this dish, I intend to make it more like she does in her recipe.  That means using fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs, browning it as croutons in the pan with oil and adding cumin, then putting through the food processor with garlic and red wine vinegar.  It’s got a much stronger taste when done that way, and the fresh bread instead of breadcrumbs add a hearty and tangy meatiness. 


Cooking Up a Storm

2 Apr

Haven’t written for a while but was compelled to tonight.  I’ve been cooking up a storm lately.  I moved a little over a month ago, and it took a lot out of me.  I hate cooking in an apartment that’s only half-moved-in-to, and I’m too lazy to do a colossal task like moving quickly.

I’ve also begun hand-writing a cookbook.  For no major reason other than to remember the awesome things I make.  I’m also too lazy to look up recipes online most days, and my only real hard-bound cookbook is too complicated for China, unless it’s a special occasion.  Luckily, I’ve got a English Chinese food cookbook on loan for the time being, but even that’s a bit gourmet.

I’m putting some of the best ones up here, because I can filter like that on the second go; whereas “Creamy, Cheesey Breakfast Tacos with Bacon” is a winner every time, “Pasta with Tomatoes and Cucumbers in Yogurt Sauce” was a bit of a bomb, which I unfortunately only remembered after I wasted a page recording it.  What can I say, I was eager to finally have created something after a long dry-spell of not cooking much.

Prime grass-fed beef

6 Sep

As some of you may already know, there’s absolutely no comparison between grass-fed beef and the usual stuff you buy in the supermarket.  Humanitarian and environmental factors aside (and there are plenty to consider), from a pure culinary standpoint, the difference in taste is phenomenal.

If you live in the Austin area or have access to it, check out ATX MeatShare, a business in Austin, Texas, started by my friend, Benjamin Palmer.

Here’s a little lingo from the web site.

What is ATX Meatshare?

ATX meatshare facilitates group purchases of grass-fed, humanely raised animals from central Texas for residents of the greater Austin, TX area.

Why is this a good deal? 

Grass-fed meat is terribly expensive compared to conventional meat, there is no way around it.

ATX Meatshare aims to even that equation by allowing a group of passionate individuals to obtain high-quality meat at fantastic prices.

When you buy a whole animal you pay a set price for the whole animals so the price/# is the same for EVERY cut ranging from organs, ground meat and up to fine steak cuts like NY strip and tenderloin.

However these prices are usually reserved if you purchase at least 1/4 of animal, which most folks don’t have the freezer space / cash / tenacity to obtain. ATX Meatshare allows you to buy a more manageable amount of meat while still obtaining the same price as if you were purchasing a quarter of a beast.

There’s a lot more information on the web site.  Click on the link above if you want to read more.

Some cooking videos

28 Aug

If you want to see how-to videos on a few of my recipes, check out this YouTube channel, brought to you by the blog El Oso’s Famous Kitchen.

My China Borracho Beans:


Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs):


…and the Sweet and Tangy Salsa that tops the meatballs:


Thanks, El Oso!


Cooking videos coming soon!

28 Aug

Thank you very much to El Oso’s Famous Kitchen for three new cooking videos featuring me and my blog.  I made my borracho beans, Spanish meatballs and sweet and tangy salsa.

Look for future posts and links to El Oso’s YouTube Channel to see the videos!

Here’s El Oso’s Famous Kitchen Cooking Blog, and here’s El Oso’s YouTube Channel with the videos.

Spicy Chinese Indian pad thai

27 Apr

My roommate requested a stir-fry noodle dish last night.  He originally asked for something carroty and gingery to go with some buckwheat noodles he’d bought last week.  Classically forgetting all details of the request except for the noodle part, I didn’t buy carrots or ginger but instead bell peppers, mushrooms, red onion and broccoli.  I had some chicken breast strips in the freezer that needed to be used, too.

I was having one of my hair-brained cooking nights last night, and I’m actually surprised I didn’t completely ruin the dish because I was cooking with reckless abandon…something that usually leads to strange or even inedible concoctions.

I used the wok for its size, depth and ability to cook a large volume of food quickly.  I started with fish oil over a medium heat and added sliced green, red and yellow bell pepper and red onion.  I made the slices of the onion and peppers large, but if I made this dish again, I’d make the slices for the peppers much thinner (maybe 1/4-in. thick).  The onions work well in thick slices.  I added salt and pepper and let the veggies begin to sweat.

While looking through my spices for inspiration, I decided to attempt an Indian fusion dish.  I added garam masala and ground cumin (about a teaspoon of each) along with some crushed red pepper flakes.  After a minute or two, I added bite-sized chunks of chicken.  As they began to whiten, I added broccoli and mushrooms.  I added more peanut oil and soy sauce and turned up the heat to reduce the liquids and make the ingredients brown slightly as they began to glaze.

To this now-huge amount of vegetables cooking over a high heat, I added more garam masala and cumin powder, hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce and spicy chili oil.  Once the chicken was cooked through and everything was softened and glazed to my liking, I added the cooked noodles and continued to sautee on a high heat long enough for the noodles to brown slightly.

The result was good hot and even better cold the next day.  It was definitely a dish that tastes great – or better – as leftovers.  It tasted a little like Indian food due to the spices, felt a lot like pad Thai in consistency, and was full of Chinese-style vegetables.  It was a bizarre attempt at a tri-cultural fusion, but it seemed to work, or at least it was tasty.  With some tweaking, the dish could probably be even better.  It was a fun attempt at experimentation, and I feel successful because I didn’t ruin it by adding so many ingredients!

-1 large red onion, 3/4-in. slice
-1 small red bell pepper, 1/4-in. slice
-1 small green bell pepper, 1/4-in. slice
-1 medium yellow bell pepper, 1/4-in. slice
-1 head broccoli
-1.5 cups sliced Chinese mushrooms
-8 strips chicken breast, but into bite-sized pieces
-1-2 T. garam masala
-1 T. ground cumin
-1-2 T. hoisin sauce
-1-2 T. light soy sauce
-1 T. sweet chili sauce
-1 t. chili oil
-1-2 t. salt
-1 t. freshly-ground black pepper
-1 t. red pepper flakes
-2-3 cups cooked buckwheat pad-Thai style noodles

Tangy salad + tangy salad = delicious chaos

7 Mar

After glancing over the hideously-long last three entries, I’m making this one less cumbersome to read (only slightly), mostly because it’s too good not to. Last night I made two tangy Asian salads – one that was more of a slaw and another with cold udon noodles as a base.

These dishes are similar, but I think they go together well. They are based around the cabbage, which I had from a previous salad and needed to use up. I also really wanted to use mandarin oranges after having some particularly delicious ones lately. The noodle salad was born of a desire to use up some of the pasta in my cabinet, but in the end I bought the noodles I used last night. The slaw was inspired by an old Gourmet spinach, mushrooms and kumquat recipe I used a year ago (or at least, the dressing was). I’d repost the link, but the link-creating function is not currently available on this page. The other recipe is largely based on a recipe called “Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Butter Dressing” on

My roommate loved these salads. He got home, not very hungry, and ate two bowl-fulls of these dishes mixed together. I tried it with the leftovers at lunch today, and I agree that the maddness of minced and sliced veggies, noodles, and tangy dressings make for some delicious chaos. Tonight’s ninja was candied walnuts in the noodle salad. Not having any extra peanuts and just feeling crazy, I threw them in, and they tasted great!

Oh, and word to the wise: don’t get distracted while using a cheese grater, especially those brilliant stand-up ones where everything falls inside and that anchor so nicely to the countertop. Let’s just say – one gnarly accident later – that I’m pretty sure bits of finger went into my salad.

See my posts in the Recipes section called “Cabbage and Chinese Greens Slaw” and “Cold Peanut Butter Noodle Salad.”