Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Garlic Naan – Now, 100% Tandoor-Free

Naan bread, especially this easy to make garlic naan, is the real reason Indian restaurants give you so much extra sauce when you order a curry. I mean, sure, the basmati rice helps, but good luck getting all that goodness off your plate using a fork.

Besides being near lots of great curries, the other advantage the restaurant naan enjoys is being cooked in the intense heat of the tandoor oven. However, we can pull off a pretty good version at home by using a smoking hot cast iron skillet. By the way, it shouldn’t literally be smoking, since we cook these without any oil in the skillet, but the key to this whole operation is waiting for the pan to get up to the proper temperature.

In fact, done correctly, the blistered bubbles will be charred to a lovely golden-black, so be brave. I’m working on the creamy cashew chicken curry seen herein, and hope to post that next, but in the meantime, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 Garlic Naan:
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1/4 cup plain yogurt
about 2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp fine salt)
1 tablespoon garlic butter
- Cook in a very hot, dry cast iron skillet for 2 to 3 minutes per side

For the Garlic Butter:
1/2 cup melted butter
4 cloves finely minced garlic
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Friday, February 15, 2019

Garlic Noodles – Roasted Garlic Crab Sold Separately

These deceptively simple, yet devastatingly delicious garlic noodles were invented in San Francisco, at a restaurant called, Thanh Long, back in the 70’s. Usually served with roasted Dungeness crab, the actual recipe is a very closely guarded family secret, but after lots of investigation, and even more experimentation, I think this is very close, at least for a non-MSG laced version.

Apparently, one of their “secret” ingredients is something called, Maggi Seasoning Sauce, which I decided not to use, since I’m not sure how easy it is for the average person to find. Besides, I think my assortment of savory, umami-rich substitutes did the job quite nicely, and everything in the ingredient list can be found at any large grocery store.

The most exotic thing here would be the oyster sauce, which is sort of a very savory, slightly sweet, thick, soy sauce-like condiment. And yes, it does have oyster extracts in it, in case that matters. If you can’t find it, just add a touch more fish sauce, soy, and Worcestershire, as well as little brown sugar.

Most garlic noodles actually call for sugar in the recipe, but I think that makes it too sweet for my taste, since the oyster sauce is fairly sweet, as is all that sautéed garlic. Regardless, whether you enjoy this with some roasted garlic crab, or as is, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 small portions Garlic Noodles:
For the secret sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
For the rest:
6 ounces dry egg noodles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cloves finely minced garlic
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
thinly sliced green onion to garnish
red chili flakes to taste
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

“Burnt” Basque Cheesecake - Yes, On Purpose

This “burnt” Basque cheesecake is one of the rare trendy recipes that I’m actually posting while it’s still trendy. I usually wait like three or four years, and by that time people have lost interest, and it seems like I’m doing it to be ironic. Well, this time the hype got to me, and now I understand why all the fuss.

By cooking the cheesecake in a very hot oven, we get a beautiful, dark exterior, which not only looks great, but the bittersweet notes it provides makes the light, creamy cheesecake inside seem even more rich, and flavorful. Besides the taste and texture, this method is just plain easier, as long as you can find some parchment paper.

Depending on the size of the roll or sheet you buy, you may have to overlap it, but as long as the pan is covered, and it comes up a few inches past the top, you’re fine. I assumed this technique was adapted from some ancient Basque recipes, but as it turns out, it was actually developed at a café in San Sebastian, called La Vina in the 70’s. That probably explains the Philly cream cheese.

Anyway, if you haven’t had the best luck with traditional cheesecake methods, you should stop trying, and just make this exclusively. Just make sure you tell you’re guests it’s supposed to be “burnt,” although if they’re on social media, they probably already know. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 9-inch cake pan (8-10 Portions):
24 ounces soft cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt (or 3/4 to 1 teaspoon Kosher salt)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs (you can use 5 large eggs)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

- Bake at 400 F. for 50 to 55 minutes, or until puffed and well browned. For a little more color, you can crank the oven up to 425 or 450 F. for the last 10 minutes or so.
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Friday, February 8, 2019

Pork Agrodolce – Treat Your Meat to Some Sour and Sweet

"Agrodolce” is a very generic Italian term for any type of sweet and sour condiment, and while it’s used on all sorts of things, it really shines, both literally and figuratively, when used for braising chunks of succulent pork shoulder. This really was a thoroughly enjoyable, soul-warming dish of comfort food, which is why I was so amused by how much it made me think of summer cooking.

I’m not sure if Italians “barbecue,” like we do here in the States, but this sauce very much reminded me of something we’d brush on a rack of ribs while sipping a cold beer. So, don’t be surprised if you see something like that happen once the weather warms up. In fact, a little touch of smokiness was maybe the only thing this dish was lacking, and we could have taken care of that with a little smoked paprika. Next time.

As I mention in the clip, once the meat is tender, and ready to serve, you’re going to have to decide whether to skim the fat. I’ll leave that decision to you and your medical team, but if you do, here are a few tips. It’s hard to skim rendered fat while it’s still in the baking dish, so I usually remove the meat, and pour the sauce into a measuring cup, or small saucepan. That way, we have much less surface area, and it’ll be way easier to spoon off the top. Also, if you make this ahead of time, and chill it overnight, the fat will harden, and you can easily remove it from the surface.

Either way, this pork agrodolce is amazing served on rice, pasta, polenta, or as I teased in the video, a big pile of ricotta mashed potatoes. In fact, I enjoyed those so much that if, and when, I adapt this sauce to the summer grill, I’m still going to use that as a side. But, no matter how you serve it, I really hope you give this it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions Pork Agrodolce:
3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3-inch chunks
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 or 2 anchovy fillets mashed
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

- Roast at 325 F. for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until very tender.

Note: While roasting, you can add a splash of water to the baking dish if things are drying out, and/or you can cook this covered after the meat has had time to brown. As long as the pork gets tender, and you’re left with enough agrodolce sauce to coat the meat, you did it right.
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