Friday, August 29, 2014

National Toasted Marshmallow Day Eve

As everyone knows, tomorrow is National Toasted Marshmallow Day, and while I’ve never done an actual toasted marshmallow video (because that would be ridiculous), I do have something even better to celebrate with...this s’more ice cream pie! Not only is this very easy to make, and a proven crowd-pleaser, but just think of all the money you’ll save on sticks. Follow this link to read the original post. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Coq Au Vin – Rock Out with Your Coq Out

Some recipes just shouldn’t be translated to English. It’s not that telling your guests they’re having “Cock with Wine,” sounds so bad, it’s just that after dinner I want them tweeting about how great the dish tasted, not how funny/inappropriate the name was.

 The other issue would be one of false advertising, since I have no idea where you get an old rooster these days. I like to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs instead, which I think work perfectly here. Like all braised dishes, tougher cuts with lots of connective tissue work best, and on a chicken that would be the thigh/leg section.

Of course, someone will ask if they can use chicken breasts, and technically you can, but please don’t. They just will not add that sticky goodness to the braising liquid that the thighs will.

This really is a simple recipe, and all gets done in one pan, but there are several steps, as you build up fond after fond. Before any wine or stock hits the pan, we want a thick, gorgeous layer of caramelization, which is where much of this recipe’s flavor comes from.

I don’t want to sound cocky, but this really was delicious, and as I say in the video, the mushroom, bacon, and onion mixture alone is worth making this for. I hope you give it a try soon. And please, use the French name. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
8 oz sliced bacon
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
*note: after cooking bacon and browning chicken, discard all but 1 tbsp of the fat before cooking the vegetables
2 shallots, sliced
1/2 large yellow onion, diced (traditionally they use pearl onions)
10 large button mushrooms, quartered
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 cup chicken broth
6 springs thyme
- Braise for about 1 hour 375, or until the thighs are tender

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bread & Butter Pickles – One of the Great Depression’s Greatest Hits

During the Great Depression, sandwiches weren’t quite what they are today. Forget about choice of aioli, or did you want roast tri tip or smoked turkey; back then it was more like, “Did you want cucumbers in your sandwich, or nothing in your sandwich?” Okay, cucumbers it is.

At the end of summer, the excess "cuc" crop was sliced, salted, pickled, and put up in jars for the cold, lean months ahead. If you thought summer Depression-era sandwiches sucked, it was much worse in winter, when you couldn’t even find a bland vegetable to slap between your slices of buttered bread.

I can just imagine what a treat it must have been to fill a sandwich with these sweet crunchy coins, or "bread and butter pickles," as they came to be known. I’m sure it was a wonderful break from what must have been a fairly flavorless existence. Happily, times are a bit better now, and we only make these because they taste really good.

So, make a batch, experience a little piece of American culinary history, and as you’re tossing them on that burger, think back to what those days must have been like. I mean, especially with no YouTube! I hope you give these bread & butter pickles  a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 2 pints:
2 lbs pickling or other firm, little cucumbers
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
2 red jalapeno pepper, sliced
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups white distilled vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, sliced

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lattice Top Peach Pie – How to Weave Dough Like a Dream

We are right in the middle of peach season, and what better way to show them off, than in this classic, lattice-top pie? And by classic, I mean the peek-a-boo crust design, not the filling, which has a few ingredients that are definitely not classic.

By the way, if you’re peaches are too ripe to peel, then you can remove the skin by cutting an “X” on the bottom and dipping in boiling water. Of course, if they’re really ripe and juicy, you probably shouldn’t be making pie with them anyway. Those are the kind of peaches where you take off your shirt and just eat them over the sink.

Above and beyond beautiful, this lattice design is also very practical. When you’re making pie with something like peaches, the relatively open top allows for lots of moisture to evaporate, which helps prevent the dreaded “watery pie syndrome.” That’s also the reason we boil the excess juices down to a syrup. 

So, whether you use this lattice-top technique for a peach pie, or other juicy fruits, I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for One 10-inch Pie:
about 3 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 2 lbs 12 oz once trimmed)
1 cup white sugar, divided
tiny pinch of salt
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of cinnamon
enough pie dough for a double crust pie (get recipe here)
- Bake at 350 F. until browned and bubbling. Mine took about 1 hour 15 minutes, but I peek a lot)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easy “Squeezy” Corn on the Cobb

I saw this technique on the Huffington Post a while back, and while it wasn’t the first time I’d seen, or used the micro-method, it was the first time I’d seen it in video form, thanks to the lovely and talented, Carl Blemming. By the way, I’m assuming Huff Po didn’t pay him anything for it, so to make up for that, neither will we.

This proves something that I’ve known for years…no matter how great a kitchen technique is, unless you use it regularly, you’ll forget about it. Usually, as soon as I get home from the store, I shuck the corn, and go from there, but as soon as I saw that ear go into Carl’s microwave, it all came back. Now I can forget about it all over again.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that some other food channels have also published this “hack” recently, but since I don’t watch anyone else, I can’t confirm those reports, but I couldn't have been the only one. The point is, it works. It works perfectly, and I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Under My Panzanella, ella, ella, ella…

I’ve never been a big fan of panzanella salad. I love the flavors in the dish, but stale, soggy bread just isn’t something I crave. The sogginess is understandable, as this dish was invented as a way to ingest rock-hard bread, but now that we’re just making it for fun, and not to avoid starvation, we can tweak a few things for texture’s sake.

The key is frying the bread cubes in loads of olive oil, in a skillet, which obviously makes them crispy, but the healthful fat also soaks in and renders them semi-waterproof, or should I say dressing-proof. The same goes for the dusting of Parmesan we apply halfway through.

You may be tempted to save some work and bake them in the oven, but don’t. By using the pan, you get nice, crispy surfaces, but the very center of the crouton stays just a touch chewy. The oven tends to dry the bread out, and you don’t get the same texture.

The gorgeous pool of tomato juices, oil, and wine vinegar will still soak in, and soften the bread, but you’ll still get a little crunch in each bite. For me this makes all the difference in the world. I know adding things like peppers, onions, and cucumbers is quite common, but I think they simply get in the way.

Having said that, it’s your “little swamp,” which is what “Panzanella” translates to, so throw in what you like. Speaking of which, I’m not giving ingredient amounts. I’ll give a ratio, and maybe a recommendation or two, but this isn’t the kind of recipe where you should be washing measuring cups and spoons. Taste and adust, and as always, enjoy!

(I like equal parts bread cubes to tomato salad)

For the bread:
stale bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, soaked well with olive oil
enough finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano to cover bread
-- fry until crispy and browned

For the tomato salad:
cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
a little minced garlic
equal parts red wine vinegar and olive oil, to dress generously (add enough to create a very “swampy” mixture)
freshly sliced basil

Friday, August 15, 2014

“One Pan” Orecchiette with Sausage and Arugula – Perfect for People with Only One Pan

Okay, now all you broke college students can leave me alone (he said with a wink). This delicious orecchiette pasta recipe only has a handful of ingredients, is very cheap to make, and probably most importantly, only uses one pan or pot for the entire procedure.

Every year when it’s time to go back to school, I get inundated with requests from students to post recipes that are super easy, only cost pennies, and require a bare minimum of kitchen equipment. This should work.

And here’s a quick idea; the next time you're going out to get another tattoo, don't, and instead go buy something for your kitchen. Do this every-other time, and you’ll eventually have a nicely stocked kitchen, and still plenty of ink covering your body.

Anyway, back to the recipe! Cooking pasta in the pan with the other ingredients lets it absorb more flavor, and the starch it releases creates a very nice, rich, and comforting sauce. This does require you paying attention and constantly adjusting at the stove. You need to adjust your heat up and down, and also how much liquid you're putting in.

Speaking of liquid, only use stock or broth that’s homemade and has no salt in it, or a very low-sodium packaged broth. If you start with a seasoned stock it will be way too salty to eat when you're done. Otherwise, you should be in for an eye opening, or should I say ear opening, treat. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
8 ounces spicy Italian sausage
about 3 1/2 cups unsalted or low-sodium chicken broth
1 generous cup orecchiette pasta
salt to taste
2 large handfuls roughly chopped arugula or other greens (if using something like rapini, add earlier so it has time to cook through.
grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tasty Blasts from Summers Past

Just a little warm weather reminder for a few of my personal favorite summer recipes. If I had to, I could survive exclusively on corn, tomatoes, BLT's, and least for 3 months. If something strikes your fancy, click on the title and away you go. Enjoy! 

Tomato and “Dirt” Salad

With a name like "dirt salad," you know it's going to be great!

Homemade Strawberry Soda

The video Big Soda doesn't want you to see.

Mexican Grilled Corn aka “Elote

This is the best way to eat corn. Not one of the best. The best.

B.L.T. Pasta

I know, it sounds too good to be true. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cranberry Stuffed Game Hens - Honey, I Shrunk the Turkey

You may be wondering why I’m posting a Thanksgiving-themed video in the middle of summer. It’s a great question – I even annoyed myself with this way-too-early reminder of things to come – but I do have a great explanation.

As some of you may know, I write a quarterly article for Allrecipes Magazine, which requires producing the content months in advance, and this cranberry stuffed game hen recipe is going to be my item in the November issue. And yes, you should buy the magazine anyway.

If you’re cooking for a smaller group during the holidays, game hens are a fantastic way to downsize, without losing any of the special occasion feel. What we have is basically a miniaturized version of the traditional holiday turkey, featuring an easy, walnut bread and dried cranberry stuffing.

If you’ve never worked with game hens before, they’re very user friendly. Even stuffed to excess, they only roast for about an hour in a hot oven, and as long as you don’t overcook them (use a thermometer!), you’ll be enjoying the kind of juicy, flavorful meat that people cooking turkey only dream of.

As far as portioning goes, half a bird makes a nice serving, but I suggest doing one hen per person. I’m sorry, but regardless of bird-size, a holiday meal without leftovers is just not a holiday meal. So, whether you’re looking for a smaller, more manageable menu, or just want to feel bigger in proportion to your poultry, I hope you give these “micro turkeys” a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Cranberry & Walnut Stuffed Game Hens
(Makes 2 whole or 4 half portions)

2 whole game hens (about 1 1/4 pounds each), fully dressed, and seasoned with salt to taste

For the stuffing:
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tbsp chopped green onions
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups toasted, crispy walnut bread cubes
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried sage
1 tsp freshly minced rosemary
1 large egg, beaten
For the sauce:
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

- Roast at 400 degrees F. oven for about an hour or until the internal temperature in the middle of the thigh is 160 F. Let rest, covered loosely in foil for about 10 minutes, while the sauce is completed.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Happy National S'mores Day!

I just heard on CNN that today is National S'mores Day. I've never done an actual s'mores video, but we did do this delicious ice cream pie inspired by them. I'm not around a lot of campfires these days, but when do I get a craving, this frozen version does the trick. Follow this link if you want to check out the original post, and get ingredients. Enjoy!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seared Scallops on Corn "Cream" – Not to Sound Corny, But This is Summer in a Bowl

This seared scallops on fresh corn “cream, ” shows that you can take a few seasonal ingredients, put them together simply and quickly, and with a little luck, and a very hot pan, produce something pretty special.  

There are three keys to producing sufficiently seared scallops. First, they must be perfectly dry. Second, the oil goes on the cold scallops, not in the hot pan. Third, your pan must be extremely hot, which means you have to use a very heavy, cast iron or stainless steel pan.

That bit of brown caramelization on the edges of the scallops might not look like a big deal, but it is. It’s a huge deal, and makes a tremendous difference in the final flavor. So, if you have the ways and means, I highly recommend you follow the procedure as shown.

As you’ll see, I used fresh white corn, but frozen will work in a pinch, although using that in August is almost a crime against nature, but let your conscience be your guide. Also, frozen corn is almost always yellow, and I really prefer the color of the white corn here. In any case, I hope you give this delicious, and very summery scallop dish a try soon. Enjoy!  

For 4 first-course sized portions:
For the corn “cream":
2 ears white corn
2 tbsp butter
salt to taste
1 cup chicken broth or water
pinch of cayenne
For the scallops:
12 large scallops
2 tsp high-heat vegetable oil (like canola or grape seed oil)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste
1 tsp kosher salt
1 red fresno chili, sliced thin (I glazed my pepper rings in the hot pan with a slash of water, a small chunk of butter, and juice of 1/2 lemon)
radish sprouts to garnish

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bok Choy Steamed Rice – You Can Taste the Unconventional Wisdom

With all the fancy, grilled summer meats flying around, it’s easy to forget about the side dishes. Nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen, when they could be outside playing volleyball in jhorts, but with this easy bok choy rice, you can have something way more interesting in the same time as it takes to make plain rice.

I believe we’ve covered this before, but yes, I’m cooking the stems about 15 minutes more than is fashionable. I love a crisp stalk of bok choy as much as the next guy, but here we kind of want it to melt into the rice. Conventional wisdom says to cook quick, but I wanted a softer, sweeter, and more subtly sulfuric grain. Think braised cabbage rolls if you’re still having a problem.

By the way, if your rice package says 2 parts water to 1 part rice, ignore it. Too much water is the main reason people screw up rice. I find 1 1/2 cups of water to each cup of long grain rice works way better, especially in dishes like this. So, ignore those directions, and give this delicious side a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 cup long grain rice
1 large bok choy, separated, and sliced
1 tsp soy sauce, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sambal chili sauce
toasted sesame seeds to garnish

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I’ve Been Parodied!

This hilarious video comes from the lovely and talented, Helen Rennie, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Fellow YouTubers Laura Vitale and ChefSteps are also given the business. Great job, Helen! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Broiled Chicken – Welcome to Plan “B”

I once heard Alton Brown say that a broiler is nothing more than an upside-down gas grill, which is certainly not how most Americans think of theirs. While most people are fine melting cheese over their nachos with it, or browning a casserole, the broiler is seldom used to cook meats.

Well, the next time rain ruins your dream of a grilled chicken dinner, I hope you fire it up, and give this easy, alternative method a try.  Not only are you getting the same intense, direct heat, but you also have more control, since you can adjust how far the chicken is from the flame. I prefer the meat about 7-8 inches under the heating element, but feel free to adjust as needed.

As you’ll see, I like to flip mine over every 6-7 minutes until it’s done. This should take between 30 and 40 minutes, but that can vary greatly depending on the size and temperature of you chicken, as well as your broiler’s heat.

By the way, you’ll want to finish with the skin side up, so the bird gets a nice, crisp finish. This is important, especially if you’re recording sound effects. I hope you give this simple and delicious broiled chicken a try soon. Enjoy!

For 2 portions:
3 pound chicken, cut in half, back bone removed
salt as needed
lemon and fresh herb to finish
- Broil on high for about 30-45 minutes, turning often, or until done. 
*Note: Some glass baking dishes will shatter under a broiler, so unless you're sure yours is high-heat proof, a metal pan is a better bet. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bonus Burrata

Since we posted our burrata and tomato salad video, I've been hearing that many of you went out and found some of this amazing cheese, and are now totally hooked. That's great news, since the more popular it gets, the more expensive it will become. Hey... wait a minute.

Anyway, you're going to need other ways to enjoy your new addiction, and this very sexy fig brulee with burrata comes highly recommended. I can't think of a better quick summer dessert. If you'd like, you can check out the original post here, and as always, enjoy!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Stacked Tomato & Mozzarella Salad – Now 100% Mozzarella Free!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using a nice, fresh mozzarella in your Caprese salad, but once or twice a summer, you simply must treat yourself to the natural wonder that is burrata cheese.

Comparing mozzarella and burrata is a little unfair, as burrata is significantly richer and creamier. It’s not like comparing apples and oranges; it’s more like apples and supermodels. In fact, burrata means “buttered,” which is really all you need to know.

Like I said in the video, if you do use burrata, please try it “as is,” before pouring over any vinegar. The subtle sweetness of this mildly tangy cheese is a delicate flower; so don’t crush it with a heavy hand.

Burrata used to be a specialty item, but I now see it next to the fresh mozzarella at all of your nicer grocery stores. While it will cost a little more, and may take a drive across town to find, I believe you'll find the extra effort well worth it. I hope you give this a try soon...before it snows. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 1 serving:
1 perfect vine-ripened tomato (don’t even bother using a supermarket tomato!)
4-6 tablespoons burrata cheese, or fresh mozzeralla
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and torn basil to taste