Friday, January 18, 2019

Beef Rendang and the Case of the Invisible Sauce

Don’t think of this amazing Indonesian beef curry as not having a sauce, think of it as not needing a sauce. By the way, it has a sauce – you just can’t see it. Flavorless water evaporates when you reduce a pan sauce, like we’re doing here, but fat doesn’t, nor does flavor, which is what makes this such a unique, and deliciously addictive dish.

Originally the recipe was developed as a way to preserve meat in hot and humid Indonesia, which is why it was cooked until dry. The lack of moisture, along with all these naturally antimicrobial ingredients meant you could keep this around for weeks without it spoiling, and apparently people enjoyed the taste and texture so much, they continued making it this way long after refrigeration was available.

Having said that, if you do want some sauce to serve with it, simply add more water during the cooking, or cover for part of the time, and you’ll be all set. Which reminds me, if you do cook this the day before, as recommended, you’ll want to add a big splash the water to the pan when you reheat it. Add some water, cover it, and when you think it’s heated through, uncover, crank the heat, and cook until it reaches your desired degree of dryness.

The ingredient list below does contain a few semi-exotic items, so I’ve added what to substitute with in parentheses, but all in all most of these things should not be that hard to find, especially online. But whether you make a few substitutions or not, I really do hope you give this intensely flavorful, and invisibly-sauced beef rendang a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for 4 large portions Beef Rendang:
4 shallots, sliced (or red onion)
6 garlic cloves
1.5 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
1.5 inch piece galangal (or ginger)
1 Fresno red chili pepper
2 Serrano chili pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 or 2 tablespoons red chili flakes, depending on desired heat
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 2-inch pieces
1/2 stalk lemongrass, lighter part, bruised with back of knife
1 can coconut milk
1 generous tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons tamarind paste (or zest from a lime and lemon, plus juice from 1 lime)
steamed rice for service, garnished with cilantro and lime if desired
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Folded Pork Cutlets – Layers of Flavor, Literally

I thought I’d seen all there was to see when it came to pan-fried pork cutlets, but then I saw something called Katsu “Mille-Feuille,” and I realized I hadn’t seen anything yet. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but I really loved the unusual look and feel, as well as the internal flavoring opportunities the multi-layer technique provides.

Besides figuring out what to flavor yours with, the other main challenge is deciding how long to cook them. The 4 to 5 minute time I gave is just a guess, since it depends on the thickness of, and fillings in, your cutlet. Although the folding and cheese inside will help keep things moist, pork tenderloin can dry out, so I don’t recommend going past 145 F. internal temp.

However, the problem with testing by poking it with a thermometer is that you’ll have hot juices spurting out, which would be a shame. This is why I like to go with the poke test, and when it springs back enthusiastically, it’s usually done. Also, a few minutes of resting time will help even out the heat, and moisture, but by the time you add your sides, and get to the table, you should be fine.

As I mentioned in the video, this method screams for personalization, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Whatever that may be, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Portions:
1 trimmed pork tenderloin, split in half lengthwise
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 ounces grated cheese, or as needed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
For the breading:
enough all-purpose flour to coat
beaten egg
panko, or regular plain breadcrumbs
olive oil for frying (at least 1/4 inch of oil in the pan is recommended)
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Samosadilla (Samosa Quesadilla) – Flat Better

I love samosas, but I don’t necessarily love all the work and mess involved with assembling and deep-frying them, which is why I’m such a huge fan of this quesadilla approach. Plus, above and beyond the faster, simpler method, the results may be even better than the original. Okay, hear me out.

While it’s true a perfectly made, expertly fried, and quickly served samosa is superior to this version, that can be a very rare combination of events. By comparison, this is almost impossible to mess up, and if you use enough oil in your pan, you should be able to achieve a beautifully browned, crispy crust that rivals something out of a deep fryer.

Like I said in the video, even if you don’t make samosadillas, the filling is a world-class potato salad in its own right. A scoop of this next to some grilled meat, like tandoori chicken for example, would make for a gorgeous plate of food. Fair warning though, Michele and I like big, bold flavors, so please feel free to adjust the ingredient amounts below to your tastes. Whether they’re enjoyed hot, warm, room temp, or cold, we really do hope you give these samosadillas a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 6 Portions:
6 large flour tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 minced Serrano chile
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground corinader
1/2 teaspoon turmeric            
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 cup green peas
1 1/2 pounds cubed Yukon gold potatoes, cooked until tender in salted water
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice from 1 lemon
salt to taste once mixed

For the Cilantro Lime Chutney Sauce:
1 large or 2 small bunches fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh picked mint leaves
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 sliced Serrano chile
1 or 2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup plain yogurt
pinch of salt, optional
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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo) – Fast, Fun, and Inadvertently Gluten-Free

Brazilian cheese bread is very easy to make, and features a chewy, cheesy, bready center, encased in a beautiful, thin, pastry crust. It also happens to be gluten-free, thanks to it being root-rich. These are made using tapioca flour, which not only makes them grain-free, but is also responsible for their very unique texture.

Tapioca flour is pretty easy to find these days, and I get mine from a guy named Bob, who runs a mill, but if your local market doesn’t carry it, I recommend finding some online. There are lots of fun recipes you can make in addition to these, like homemade tapioca pearls for bubble tea, just to give one enticing example.

As I mentioned in the video, you can easily adjust the thickness of your dough by adding another splash of milk, or more tapioca flour depending on what you're into. Some folks swear by a thinner batter, which they bake in muffin tins, but to me those come out too much like popovers, and don’t have the same chewy, cheesy center.

Happily, Brazilian cheese bread ingredients are fairly inexpensive, which means you can play around with a few batches, and see for yourself. No matter what you end up with, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 24 Brazilian Cheese Breads:
(Please note, I only made half a batch)
 2 1/4 cups tapioca flour, plus more as needed to adjust texture
1/2 cup lightly flavored olive oil and/or vegetable oil
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces freshly grated mozzarella (about 1/2 cup)
2 ounces freshly and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano* (about a cup unpacked)
2 large beaten eggs
pinch of cayenne
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