Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Miso Braised Beef with King Trumpet Mushrooms – Comforting and Exciting?

When people think comfort food, they generally think of classic, iconic recipes that are made the exact same way every time. No one likes change, and it’s this timeless consistency that in large part makes these dishes so comforting. However, as much as I love a traditional beef stew, or braised beef short ribs, once in a while, I enjoy using these same techniques with a few non-traditional ingredients, just to shake things up.

Speaking of which, if you’re not familiar with miso, it's a fermented soybean and rice paste, and it just makes everything taste better. It’s relatively easy to find in your larger grocery stores, and a few spoonfuls will add an extra element of savoriness to these already savory dishes. To balance that, among other things, we’re also adding a touch of maple syrup, which helps give this even more of an autumnal feel.

I kept things pretty simple with the vegetable additions, going with just mushrooms and onions, but the classic beef stew array of carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes would also work as well. And I wasn’t kidding about the King Trumpet mushrooms being as good as the beef. They really were amazing, and this would make for a fantastic meatless meal using those alone. Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions Miso Braised Beef:
2 tablespoons peanut, or vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, or boneless beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch thick strips or chunks, seasoned with salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne
1 tablespoon butter
3 or 4 King Trumpet mushrooms, halved, or any mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup sake, or white wine
3 tablespoons yellow miso
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or any vinegar
1/4 cup sliced red chilies
1/4 cups sliced green onions

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)

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

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.