Friday, October 18, 2019

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Fudge – Which Grandma? We’re Not Exactly Sure

There is nothing quite like a batch of old-fashioned peanut butter fudge, especially when it’s freshly made by your Grandma. Which is why I really wish my Grandma would have made peanut butter fudge. Oh well, she gets a pass because of the other delicious things she fed me.

This old-fashioned style of peanut butter fudge is not that easy to find. Admittedly, I’ve not looked that hard, but the times I have run across some, it always seems to be the soft, creamy version, which is not the kind I’m into. If it’s going to feel like peanut butter in my mouth, then what’s the point? No, I want something that feels dense, and firm in my fingers, but will almost instantly liquefy in when it hits my tongue.

As I mentioned, you’ll want to cut this when it’s just cool enough to get a clean slice. If you leave it in the fridge, and then cut it ice-cold, it will tend to fragment. The good news is that peanut butter fudge shards are delicious, so it’s not really that tragic of a problem. And yes, this technique will work with other nut butters, like almond, or cashew, just in case someone around you is allergic, but regardless of what you use, I really do hope you give this peanut butter fudge a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 64 small cubes of Peanut Butter Fudge:
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon fine salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups unsifted)
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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bacon-Wrapped Cranberry Walnut Pork – Fancy, Not Fancy

It’s getting close to that time of the year when we spoil our guests by making them extra-fancy, labor-intensive, time-consuming meals. Or, we can make them something like this bacon-wrapped cranberry walnut pork tenderloin instead, which just seems like it would be all those things. Yes, the hardest thing about this gorgeous recipe is not spilling the beans about just how simple it was to do.

This is really more of a technique video, than a specific recipe, since you can fill it with whatever strikes your fancy, but as far as seasonally appropriate ingredients go, I loved how this came out. Beyond being able to adapt this to your tastes, another advantage is that we can prep it ahead of time, and just pop it into the oven when we’re ready to rock, and by “rock,” I mean impress our guests.  

One thing to be aware of is that pork tenderloins do vary a bit in size. The one shown here was on the smaller side, and weighed in at just about one pound. They’re generally closer to 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds, and if that’s the case for yours, be sure to add a little more roasting time, and double check things with a thermometer.

Also, if you’re going to be doing more than one, make sure you’re buying tenderloins that are all about the same weight. The butcher will be more than happy to weigh a few, and get you what you need. Other than that, not much can go wrong, except of course, after a few glasses of wine you admit how simple and easy this really was. Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
1 trimmed pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 or 2 teaspoons freshly minced rosemary
 1 or 2 teaspoons finely sliced fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon bread crumbs, or enough to lightly coat surface
1/4 cup chopped, lightly toasted walnuts, or as much as you like
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries, or as much as you like
4 strips thinly sliced bacon, or enough to wrap the pork
- Roast at 450 F. for 25-30 minutes or until the bacon is browned, and you’ve reached an internal temp of at least 145 F.

For the pan sauce:
2/3 cup white wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cold butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
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Friday, October 11, 2019

Potatoes Romanoff - This Didn't Stay in Vegas

They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but that’s mostly because people just don’t remember exactly what happened. Happily, that’s not the case with this incredible Potatoes Romanoff recipe. About 10 years ago, I took a trip to Las Vegas with a group of food writers, and while I don’t recall much, I do remember learning how to make this ingenious potato gratin from Chef John Schenk, at his restaurant, Strip House.

He credits his Mom for the recipe, but the shallots and white pepper scream, “This was adapted by a restaurant chef!” Which reminds me, if you do use shallots for this, be careful. Since they go in raw, a little will go a long way. To play it safe, you can always sauté them in a little butter to take off the sharp, raw edge. Besides shallots, some thinly sliced green onions would be great, as would sautéed leeks, or even just finely minced yellow onions.

This would be a great side dish for those large holiday gatherings, since it can be made the day before, and then baked when needed. And as I said in the video, you can embellish this with all sorts of stuff, including such obvious choices as bacon, or fresh herbs, but no matter how you personalize it, I really hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
3 very large russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), scrubbed clean
1/4 to 1/3 cup minced shallots, raw, or sautéed for a milder flavor
3 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons fine salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
1 3/4 cups sour cream

- Bake at 425 F. for 30-35 minutes, or until browned and piping hot.
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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Pumpkin-Shaped Dinner Rolls – Your Guests Will Blow Their Gourds

The holidays are almost here, which means “show-off” baking season is almost here, and these pumpkin-shaped dinner rolls are just the thing to impress your guests, and more importantly, drive your culinary rivals mad with envy. Sure these take about 20 minutes longer to make than your already perfectly fine dinner rolls, but that’s nothing when you consider all the compliments that will be coming your way.

This very Instagram-friendly roll is the perfect thing to bring to that holiday gathering, and can be made using your favorite dinner roll recipe. The key here is well-oiled string, and being careful not to tie it too tightly. If the string gets embedded too deeply into the dough, it will tear the roll when you try to remove it, and there’s nothing that stops something from being cute, quite like a jagged tear.

By the way, if you don’t feel like tying all those knots, you can try and do this with one long piece of string, winding it around the dough ball, as you turn it, but I find that method harder, and less successful. Faster yes, but not as visually appealing once baked.

If you do a video search for this type of roll, you’ll also see people simply cutting slashes around the outside, which sort of works, but it just doesn’t come out as adorable. But, regardless of which roll recipe, or shaping method you use, I really do hope you give these pumpkin-shaped dinner rolls a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 “Pumpkin” Dinner Rolls:
(be sure to save a few tablespoons of dough for the stems)
1 cup warm milk
1 package dry active yeast
1 or 2 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon fine salt
kitchen string
vegetable oil for strings
- Bake at 375 F. for 20-25 minutes
- Feel free to give these an egg wash before baking if you want a shinier look.
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