Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons – What a Difference an “O” Makes

I’ve always found it amusing that macaroons, which are one of the easiest cookies ever, has the same name, give or take an “o,” as the famously difficult macaron

Even though they have the same origin, which the Italian word maccarone (also where we get macaroni), they couldn’t be more different in texture, as well as the skill they require.

Since we did (and totally nailed) the hard one, I figured I should do the easy one, especially since I just got back from vacation, and something simple seemed like a really good idea. Speaking of easy, using sweetened condensed milk streamlines the operation, and produces a very nice texture, but if you can’t find it, there are many macaroon recipes that use white, or powdered sugar, so don’t let that slow you down.

Regarding the chocolate dip, you can just melt, and use any kind you like, but for that extra professional touch, I suggest tempering the chocolate before you dip.  There are many complicated demos online, which involve heating and cooling the chocolates using very specific temperatures, and they work great, but I generally don’t have the patience. 

Instead, I use a shortcut method that involves chopping up some dark chocolate into the size of peas, melting 75% of it, and then stirring in the other 25%, until it melts. That should get you pretty close, and at the very least you’ll have a firmer, snappier texture than if you just melted all the chocolate at once, and started dipping. Either way, I hope you give these easy coconut macaroons a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 24 Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons:
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 large egg white
3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
- Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Chef John is on Vacation

I wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be on vacation for the next week or so, and really looking forward to doing absolutely nothing. I'm sure I'll do some cooking, since it's always fun to experiment with new recipes without the pressure of having to film and edit them at the same time. Who knows, some of them may even end up making it onto the channel. 

I may also brush up on my golf game, which is currently not good. As you can see from the video below, I really need to learn how to hit the ball the right way, and not backwards between my legs. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a nice, relaxing break, and suggest you use this time to catch up on any and all videos you may have missed. We have a ton. Thank you, and stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao) – Sweet, Steamy Memories

In younger, leaner times, I’d often rely on the delicious, inexpensive calorie bomb that is the steamed barbecue pork bun. They were twice the size, and for a few bucks you could get very full…for about 30 minutes, and then you were starving again. Nothing a Mission-style burrito couldn’t fix.

Anyway, the filling was chopped Chinese-style barbecue pork mixed with some kind of mysterious, gelatinous red sauce, which was significantly sweeter than what I’m doing here. 

That’s probably why they don’t seem to come out quite the same as I remember. I probably need a lot more sugar, as well as copious amounts of MSG. Having said that, I was pretty pleased with my insides, but as usual I encourage you to freestyle. 

Here’s a link to a fairly classic pork bun filling recipe, in case you want something slightly more authentic, and since it looks just like the stuff I mentioned above, I might give it a try next time. But, regardless what you fill yours with, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 Steamed Barbecue Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao):
For the dough:
3/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
2 cups *self-rising flour
For the filling (this made more than I needed):
2 cups chopped Chinese-style barbecue pork, or other barbecued pork product
1/4 cup finely sliced green onions
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce, or as needed
salt (soy sauce) and cayenne to taste
2 teaspoons white sugar, optional

*If you don't have self-rising flour, you can use 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted with 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon fine table salt.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Lemon Jalapeño Marinated Mussels – Definitely My First or Second Favorite Way to Eat Mussels

I might give you a different answer in the middle of February, when there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of mussels, swimming in some kind of garlicky, winey broth, but this time of year, chilled and marinated are my favorite way to go.

You can dress these anyway you want, but no matter how you flavor them, you’ll want to follow the same basic technique. By cooking the mussels with a minimum of moisture, and then reducing the liquids for the base of our marinade, we get an even more intense flavor, as well as an extra little kick of salinity.

By the way, I completely forgot to strain the cooking liquids before making the dressing, which can mean some grit, or tiny pieces of shell getting into your final product, so after everything is reduced, press the onion and juices through a mesh strainer before proceeding.

Most mussels sold at the grocery store are fairly well cleaned, but if yours aren’t, be sure to scrub well, and remove any beards. To ensure top quality, depending on proximity to the store, you can cook a couple when you get home, chill them, and then give them a test taste.

Mussels should have a fresh, sweet, mild, tastes-like-the-ocean flavor, and if yours don’t, or are gritty, or odd in any way, simply take them back, and get a refund. Anyway, that’s the worst-case scenario. The best-case scenario is what you see here, and I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 pounds of Mussels:
2 pounds black mussels
1 tablespoon olive oil for sautéing onions
1/2 onion, finely diced
pinch of salt
For the marinade:
reserved reduced cooking liquids (about 1-2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 lemon juiced
2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeño
2 tablespoons champagne, rice, or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
extra pinch of salt if needed
red Fresno chili to garnish optional
NOTE: Serve on ice or a cold plate, and not on salt, unless it is very large grain, and won't stick to the shells.