Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sweet Potato Biscuits – Before or After

I originally planned for these sweet potato biscuits to be this year’s Thanksgiving leftover recipe, but they came out so well, I decided to upgrade them, and I’m now officially suggesting you make these as one of the centerpieces for your feast. The downside of that plan is that you’ll have to share them with your guests.

Adding things like mashed sweet potatoes can cause all sorts of issues in a biscuit recipe, since they need to take the place of some of your “wet” ingredients, and considering how much thicker they are than something like buttermilk, over-mixing the dough can occur. By the time the potato mixture is incorporated, you can develop too much gluten, which can make biscuits tough.  

So, to protect against that, we’ll do most of the mixing while we form and fold our dough on the work surface. Not only does this make for a tender biscuit, but as you saw, we also get lots of beautifully buttery layers.

These are amazing with just plain butter, but for a little seasonal twist, I made a pomegranate spread, and have explained how to do that below. No matter what you serve this with, I really do hope you give these amazing sweet potato biscuits a try soon Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 large or 12 normally sized Sweet Potato Biscuits:
1 1/2 cup mashed orange sweet potatoes (cooked in well-salted water, drained thoroughly)
3 1/4 cups *self-rising flour 
(*if using all-purpose flour, add 4 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1 1/2 tsp fine salt)
1 rounded tablespoon brown sugar
12 tablespoons ice cold butter, grated in
1/2 cup buttermilk

For the pomegranate spread:
4 tablespoons room temp butter
1 teaspoon pomegranate syrup, aka pomegranate molasses (you can make your own by reducing juice until it thickens)
1 teaspoon fresh pomegranate juice, for a better color
fresh pomegranate seeds to garnish

Friday, November 17, 2017

Peposo dell'Impruneta - Making Bad Beef Better Since Before Columbus

Some recipes have amusing, or romantic stories for how they came to be, but this peposo isn’t one of them, unless you consider making bad quality beef taste better by covering it in black pepper, amusing or romantic.

As the story goes, the workers who made terracotta tiles in the city of Impruneta, would place this stew into clay pots, and leave it their still-hot kilns overnight, where it would be ready the next morning. Since they were often stuck using less than fresh meat, copious amounts of black peppercorn was used to make the beef palatable.

Luckily, this recipe adapts quite nicely to fresh meat, and produces one of the more uniquely flavored braised beef dishes I’ve ever had. The amount of black pepper is up to you, but even the ridiculous amount I used wasn’t overpowering. The acidity and sweetness of the reduced wine balances everything beautifully.

I hear that beef shank is the traditional cut of meat to use, but short ribs worked really well. You could even use some beef chuck, cut into two-inch pieces, but you’d have to adjust the cooking time. Having said that, forget the time, and keep cooking until a fork goes in easily. Regardless of which cut you use, or how fresh it is, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
6 bone-in beef short ribs (about 8 to 10 ounces each)
1 tablespoon kosher salt to coat the beef
8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, freshly crushed
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sage leaves
3-4 small sprigs rosemary
2 cups red wine, preferably Chianti
2 bay leaves
salt to taste, to adjust sauce
- Simmer on low, covered, about 3 1/2 hours, or until fork tender. Turn occasionally.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Caldo Verde – My Green Soup Redux

Caldo verde is many things: simple to make, inexpensive, nutritious, famously delicious, and beyond comforting. What it isn’t, however, is Spanish. I learned that after posting a version of this soup 10 years ago, when I tagged it as “Spanish Cuisine,” and a few very “passionate” Portuguese viewers let me know, in no uncertain terms, that was not accurate.

This soup hails from the Minho Province in northern Portugal, and now that the record has been set straight, we can move on to just how great this simple soup is. This is one of those recipes where you actually hope for horrible weather, so you can enjoy it in all its soul-warming glory. This is so hearty and comforting, you’ll almost forget how good it is for you.

I recommend trying to find Portuguese linguica, but like I said in the video, pretty much any cured, spicy, smoked sausage will work. Andouille would be a great choice, as would a dried chorizo. As usual, feel free to adapt this as you see fit, but I wouldn’t change the recommended russet potatoes.

They have the perfect starchiness for this soup, and produce a wonderfully silky texture. Waxier red potatoes won't work as well, but, having said that, it’s your soup, so do what you want. Just don’t call it Spanish. So, whether you wait for some nasty cold, wet weather or not, I really do hope you give this caldo verde a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 large portions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces Linguica sausage
1 onion diced fine, plus a pinch of salt
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, sliced
2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
2 quarts chicken broth or water
2 pounds kale, trimmed, chopped, washed and drained
pinch of cayenne, optional

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pork Saltimbocca – Jumps in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands

You have to give it to the Italians when it comes to naming recipes, and this pork saltimbocca is a perfect example. By now, you’ve probably heard that “saltimbocca” means “jumps in the mouth,” which makes perfect sense if you’ve had it before.

Maybe we should start doing this to American recipes? For example, we could rename Buffalo Chicken Wings, “Order More Beer Bones.” Let me think that one through a little more, but the point is, I love the idea of trying to describe a food’s affect in its name.

If you don’t want to mess around making the fake pork stock with the chopped up trimmings, you can still use the gelatin trick, and simply dissolve a teaspoon into a cup of chicken broth, and reduce it by half. However, the browned scraps do add extra meatiness, and this way you won’t have to feel guilty about trimming off too much meat. By the way, if you’d made our demiglace, you could skip the gelatin and add a nugget of that.

Feel free to use the more classic veal loin for this recipe, but the pork tenderloin really works beautifully. It’s just as tender, and maybe even a bit more forgiving if slightly overcooked. Which reminds me, don’t overcook this. Slightly pink pork tenderloin is completely safe, not to mention juicy and delicious. So, whether you use pork, veal, or even a chicken breast for this, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:
1 to 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin, seasoned generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
about 12 sage leaves
4 large thin slices prosciutto
flour for dusting
2/3 cup white wine, or Marsala wine for a little sweeter sauce.
- Be sure season the final sauce before serving.

For the stock:
1 tablespoon butter
chopped pork trimmings
1 cup homemade or low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water, or as needed
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- simmer until reduced by half

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

“Code Red” Cheese Spread and a Hot Pepper Challenge for ALS

I was halfway through production on this “code red” cheese spread, when I heard that Andrew from “Binging with Babish” had tagged me for his Hot Pepper Challenge for ALS. What are the odds? Anyway, I happily accepted his challenge, although, as you’ll see from this video, I took the coward’s way out, and used the almost already completed pepper spread, instead of eating whole chilies. I have some gastrointestinal issues that, while relatively minor, would make such an endeavor “problematic.” So, to make up for my good judgment, I donated a little extra, and hope you can do the same.

Above and beyond raising some funds for ALS research, this delicious spread is simple to make, and a real crowd-pleaser. Just ignore those initial complaints. As you’ll observe, people will literally be spreading more of this on their next cracker, while they tell you that it's too spicy. It isn't, and by the end of the party, they will agree. They may be sweating when they do, but they'll agree.

Here’s the link to Andrew’s video, where he shares the inspiration for the challenge, as well as heroically eats a habanero, AND a ghost pepper. It hurt just to watch. If you'd like to participate, the link is https://www.gofundme.com/alshotpepperchallenge. I really hope you give this great pepper spread, and hot pepper challenge a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 4 1/2 cups “Code Red” Cheese Spread:
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese
8 ounces fromage blanc, mascarpone, or just more cream cheese
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup sriracha hot sauce
2 tablespoons ghost pepper hot sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons hot smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste
salt to taste

Friday, November 3, 2017

Chicken Little – The Sky is Not Falling

Armed with nothing more than a sharp boning knife, and some patience, pretty much anyone can make this visually impressive, “chicken little.” At least that’s what I’m calling it, for lack of a better name. In the business, this is sometimes referred to as an individual chicken ballotine, which really doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

I was thinking of going with “pear chicken,” but then I’d have to deal with all those “where’s the pear?” comments. Anyway, regardless of the name, this is a real showstopper, and easily adaptable when it comes to seasonings, and glazes. I did the simplest pan sauce possible, by deglazing the drippings with a splash of chicken stock, but you could use wine, and/or demiglace, to fancy it up even more.

I’m recommending that we cook this to an internal temp of 150 F., to ensure ultra-juicy meat, which will terrify some of you, “Henny Penny’s”. I still see recommendations online to roast chicken to 165 F., which is not only crazy, but completely unnecessary. Anything that would harm you is killed at 140 F., so please try to relax.

Since there is a bit of production involved, I do suggest making these ahead, and keeping them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Not only will they roast to an even more beautiful golden brown, but your flavored butter ingredients inside will have time to permeate the meat. So, whether you’re making these to impress guests at a dinner party, or just improve your knife skills, or both, I really hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:
one 1.5 pound game hen (this will work with any size bird, but roasting times will change)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the butter:
1 clove garlic, sliced
large pinch of salt and pepper
1 teaspoon minced thyme and rosemary
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup seasoned chicken broth to deglaze and reduce in roasting pan

- Roast at 450 F. for about 30 minutes, or until internal temp of 150 F.