Entry Level Kitchen

No Experience Necessary

A Chocolate Cake Cure All October 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — entrylevelkitchen @ 11:24 pm
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You ever have one of those days, weeks, even months when nothing seems to go right and you can’t seem to catch a break? Well, that’s the week I’ve been having. Nothing life threatening to report (unless you count breaking your cell phone).

When I get stressed or down I like to bake, drink hard cider or read. Sometimes I try to combine all three. That’s fun to watch.

Writing this post has even become stressful….

kitten attack while blogging sneak attack by a kitten while blogging.

So before I loose an eye, I am going to go eat this spiced double chocolate cake, drink some hard cider and attempt to read A Clash of Kings.


Helen’s Beef Brisket: An Epic Cooking Venture October 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — entrylevelkitchen @ 8:39 pm

Alana and I have decided that we cook way too much. Since moving in about two months ago, we have already had to buy olive oil (we moved in with three bottles), salt and pepper. Seriously?! In my last apartment a bottle of olive oil would last for three months–but to be fair, I had a tiny kitchen and ate more Trader Joe’s frozen Indian meals than home cooked dinners.


Anyway, we cook too much. We decided this while making tonight’s dinner, a roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and braised red cabbage.


Yeah. We cook too much.


Whatever. Here’s a kitten.



My coworkers and I have started having Friday potlucks, where everyone brings a part of the meal and we have lunch together. The theme of the last potluck was Jewish food, which was inspired when my boss pulled some smoked salmon out of her fridge and saying, “I really need to use this up.”


Her idle comment inspired the following feast: bagels with smoked salmon, spinach and cheese kugel, matzo ball soup, potato latkes, spinach burekas, and my mom’s beef brisket.


When I brought the tray in on that Friday morning, I explained to my non-Jewish coworkers, “This is a big deal. This is like my first Thanksgiving turkey.”


It’s not that I’m all that connected to my Jewish heritage, but this brisket is really good. I remember being SO excited every time my mom made it. We would eat the leftovers for days, and like a turkey, it was always better the next day.


Needless to say, as someone who is incapable of following a recipe and almost never cooks meat, this was a process.


I called my mom maybe six or seven times in the days before cooking it to get her advice. I went to three groceries stores to get the right cut of meat. I even watched this Youtube video, at my mom’s insistence.


I’m pretty sure it was a success, although I gave clear instructions to everyone that I would only accept positive feedback. I mean, it’s my first brisket. Cut me a break. But I thought it was pretty good. I invited friends over on Friday night to help me finish the rest of it, and by the time it was done heating up in the oven the second time, the meat was perfectly tender and falling apart. Like I said, I am not usually a meat person, but damn that was good.


Here it is. The recipe. I am now maxed out on Jewishness for the rest of the year, thank you very much.


(Look at my artistic food stylings. It’s ironic, or something, okay?)

Mom’s Beef Brisket

Servings: 1 million

Prep time: 4 days of deep discussion with your Jewish mother


  • First-cut beef brisket. I bought 5 pounds which was insane. Most recipes said to buy 3 but I was really letting my inner Jew out, so I bought 5
  • 4 cups of ketchup (just go with it)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 jar of green olives
  • 1 jar of capers
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot

First you have to sear the beef. Don’t worry, this is not scary. Make sure to put salt and pepper on both sides and then all you have to do it put it in a frying pan with a little bit of oil. Just get it brown but don’t cook it all the way through. This is going to smell REALLY good, and you’re going to be all, “Man, vegetables never smell like this. Why don’t I ever eat steak?”

Then you mix together all of the above ingredients except for the carrots and onions. You’re going to chop those up and put them in the pan with the meat. After both sides of the meat are browned, put it in the pan and cover it with carrots and onions. I even put some on the bottom before I put the meat in. Then cover EVERYTHING with sauce. The more the better.

Cook it in the oven for three and a half hours. Go watch a movie or something. Do NOT fall asleep. You will be so sad if you do.

Final step: feast!


French Onion Soup October 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — entrylevelkitchen @ 9:31 pm

It feels weird to be writing this post on a Friday, when I’m contemplating cheap wine and greasy Chinese take out for dinner, with the windows open and late afternoon sun pouring in. It’s a beautiful, lazy fall day (maybe the “lazy” just comes from my post-work armchair station), and it’s hard to remember how bleak it was earlier this week.

But it was. Monday was cold and rainy. I think I wore a coat to work.

It was a soup day.

On Tuesday, when I ate the French onion soup leftovers for lunch, I declared, “This is the best thing I’ve EVER made!”

On Wednesday night, when I had them again, I said the same thing.

Today, I can barely remember that I ate French onion soup this week. Weird how that can happen, right?

Pretty sure this is still the best thing I’ve ever made. Even though it burned my tongue every time I ate it, once so badly I can still feel it (I guess it WAS only two days ago, though).

Thank you, Smitten Kitchen.

I followed her recipe almost exactly, so I’m not going to copy it here. The only thing I would have changed is I would have caramelized the onions for longer. But I’m impatient and it was a weeknight, okay! Seriously, don’t make this on a weeknight. It took forever. Worth it, but man, I was HUNGRY.

To this recipe I added three garlic cloves, a bay leaf, and a sprig of fresh sage. I grated Swiss and asiago cheese on the top. It was wonderful!

And these are a few of my favorite things.


Are you there Willow? It’s me (us), Alana (and Millie) October 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — entrylevelkitchen @ 8:38 pm

This was a long week for me. I’m not really sure why, nothing crazy or insane happened at work or in my personal life. As I sit here on Sunday night reflecting on this past week, trying to figure what in the world made it so challenging, I think I may have finally pin-pointed it. Rachel and I moved, we adopted a kitten, she ran in a warrior dash and I started working full-time again (hi fellow teachers!)  all in the same month. Umm what were we thinking? Sometimes I think we get a little ahead of ourselves.

This week I spent a lot of time snuggling with Willow, losing Willow (yes we lost our kitten once already), searching for Willow, convincing myself that Willow is deaf (really Alana? what cat actually comes when she is called), playing with Willow, watching Millie accidentally kick Willow like a soccer ball down the hall, cooking with Willow (she makes a mean chili), showing Willow’s picture all around my school because obviously everyone is as interested in my cat as I am, keeping Willow from eating the four fancy pumpkins I picked today, and lastly fishing Willow out of the toilet bowl at 5am.

So if you, my friends, are having a crazy week I suggest you adopt a little kitten too! Even if it does make you become a crazy cat lady or display symptoms of a freaked out new parent. You’ll always have someone to watch you make chili and make you feel better when you’re having a bad day.

Willow’s Spicy Chili 

2lbs of ground beef

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 green pepper, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

12oz can of crushed tomatoes

10z can of diced tomatoes

1 can of light kidney beans or beans of your choice

1 chipotle chili + 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of ground cumin

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 tablespoon of smoked paprika

1 teaspoon of white pepper

1 tablespoon of onion powder

1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 chicken or beef bullion cube

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

salt to taste

Brown ground beef with garlic, onion and green pepper in a pot over medium-high heat. Once cooked drain out the fat. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes. Stir and add the rest of the ingredients, excluding the beans. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour.

Add drained and rinsed beans. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for another 20-30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, scallions, cheddar cheese and a piece of cornbread.

*Although Willow tried very hard to sneak a taste, this is not a pet friendly recipe*