Monday, January 30, 2012

Boil-n-Bake Baby Back Ribs – Crime Against Nature, Or Just Guilty of Being Delicious?

Here’s what I know: I took some baby back ribs, simmered them for an hour in a flavorful liquid, glazed them in sauce, roasted them in the oven for about half an hour, and they looked and tasted really good. I also know these boil-n-bake baby back ribs would be great at any party, preferably a Super Bowl party (during which the Giants win the game).

Here’s what I don’t know: Why so many people will lose their minds over the fact that I boiled these ribs. They’ll say it’s a crime against nature, and that these are just not the same as baby backs slowly roasted over smoky coals for hours and hours. Well, duh.

These aren’t meant to replace, or even compete with, a traditionally barbecued version. This is simply a fast and tasty alternative method for having a nice stack of ribs appear on your snack table. Seriously, what’s the problem?

This is one of those recipes where I don’t want or expect you to use the same stuff I did. This is more about the quick and dirty method than any specific ingredients. I would make sure the simmering liquid is very well salted, and have a decent amount of acid and spice, but other than that, anything goes.

As far as the glaze, I just threw a bunch of stuff in a mixing bowl, in a sort of stream of saucy consciousness, but very much enjoyed the results. Chinese 5-spice is wonderful with pork, and created a beautifully aromatic base for the sweet, sour, and spicy sauce.

By the way, if it looks like I was a little short on sauce, I was, but made a little more while they were roasting, and it was fine. The amounts below will give you plenty for a rack of baby back ribs. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

1 slab baby back ribs
2 1/2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
6 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp kosher salt (less if using fine salt)
1 tbsp Chinese 5-spice
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 bay leaves

For the glaze:
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp sambal chili paste, or to taste
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice

Friday, January 27, 2012

Balsamic Beurre Noir – A Black Butter Sauce Any Femme Fatale Would Love

It’s too bad I didn’t go to film school. If I had, I could have done a clever play on the film noir genre for this balsamic beurre noir recipe. 

Of course, it would have been done in black and white, and featured a chain-smoking, fishnet stocking-clad femme fatale who would eventually double-cross me after a few extended close-ups of spinning ceiling fans. But, I didn’t, so all you get is this plain old video for an incredibly easy and delicious, garlic-spiked, balsamic butter sauce. 

The name is going to confuse a few culinary students out there. Technically, a “beurre noir” refers to a sauce where the butter is cooked until it turns a very dark brown, almost black color. I’m using the term “beurre noir,” as one would use “beurre blanc,” a butter sauce made with reduced white wine, or “beurre rouge,” one made with red wine. The technique is identical for these types of sauces, and we just change the name depending on the color.

For you guys out there looking for Valentine’s Day recipe ideas, you can’t go wrong with this very sexy sauce. Everyone knows cooking dinner for your sweetheart on V-Day is way more romantic than taking her out, and you really can’t beat the old home field advantage for these occasions. You don’t have to hire a private dick to figure that one out.

Anyway, I hope you give this a try soon. Rent some classic film noir, grill up some meat or fish, and spoon over this dark, dangerous, and deeply delicious sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2-3 portions:
2 tsp melted butter
1 sliced garlic clove
1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced red chilies
1/2 tsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sloppy Toms – This Sandwich Has a Great Personality

I was so excited I’d been able to make such a fine Sloppy Joe with ground turkey instead of the usual beef, that I didn’t even consider its unsightly appearance as I ate. It wasn’t until later, as I edited the footage and photos that I realized this was not an attractive dish.

Even the best looking Sloppy Joe is a homely plate of food, but this was made even more so by the pale turkey meat. As I mentioned in the video, I believe a more thorough browning of the onions would have helped the color, and I will test that theory the next time I make this.

In fairness, it did look a little better in person, and the taste and texture were exactly as I had hoped. It tasted enough like a traditional beef Sloppy Joe to provide that satisfying comfort food fix, yet seemed much lighter.

Superficial beauty aside, this made for a very enjoyable lunch, and kept warm in a slow cooker, could also work very nicely for a Super Bowl party. I hope you give it a try soon. By the way, thanks to Me.Eat.Food for inspiring today post title! Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 Portions:
2 tbsp butter
1 onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey plus 1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, or to taste
cayenne to taste
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup water, or as needed
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese

View the complete recipe

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Buffalo Wing Sauce-Stained Spoiler: Giants to Win Super Bowl XLVI

As promised, here’s my official Super Bowl XLVI prediction, using Buffalo chicken wing bones! The game will feature the heroic New York Giants vs. the despised New England Patriots, and while I’m sure you would have enjoyed the game anyway, just think how much more fun you’re going to have winning all this easy money too.

The best thing about using bones to predict the winner is not having to waste time gathering information, analyzing game plans, and considering any actual facts. 

No, all the talking haircuts on TV can do that, I’m sticking with this time-tested, definitely-not-an-obvious-joke method. By the way, the fact that the "N" is backwards makes this even more of a sure thing. Why? Don't worry about it.

On a personal note, Michele and I were at Candlestick Park yesterday for the NFC Championship Game! The weather was dreadful, but the old ball yard was rocking, and the game turned into an epic defensive struggle that I’m glad we got to see in person. Go Giants! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Predicting a Super Bowl Prediction

I’ve received so many emails asking whether or not I’m doing my Super Bowl prediction this year, using Buffalo chicken wing bones. As you may know, we shocked the world last year with our absolutely spot-on prognostication that the Packers would win, cover the spread, and that the score would exceed the over/under line.

Well, great news! As soon as the teams are set, I’ll will toss the bones, and the rest will be up to you. And by “rest” I mean withdrawing your kid’s college funds and betting it all on the game. Stay tuned!

*For those of you that doubt the prodigious prognosticating power of these puny bones, I welcome you to feast your eyes on last year’s prophecy. Scoreboard!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Broiled Herb-Crusted Salmon – Stop Staring at the Seafood Case, You’re Making the Fishmonger Nervous

I don’t generally talk to strangers – heck, I barely speak to my friends – but once in a while I’ll see someone staring so cluelessly at the fish case in the grocery store, that I just have to jump in and offer them some unsolicited advice – usually suggesting a recipe like this broiled herb-crusted salmon.

This method of broiling salmon, with its simple to make mayonnaise-based crust, produces a magnificently moist and flavorful piece of fish. It can be varied a thousand ways, and other than the actual mayonnaise, literally every other ingredient is optional.

I love the combination of tarragon and Italian parsley, but I’ve used herbs like basil and thyme, which worked wonderfully as well. As far as the fish goes, a center-cut salmon filet is a perfect thickness for this, but other similarly shaped seafood will work.

So, if you happen to be one of those people who get that deer in the headlights look when choosing seafood at the store, I hope you give this great recipe a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Servings:
2 (8-oz) center-cut salmon filets
salt and pepper to taste
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp mayonnaise
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip – Don’t Bet the Ranch this Super Bowl

Arguing about what salad dressing is more appropriate for a baked Buffalo chicken dip recipe is kind of like debating about which shoes to wear with that Hawaiian shirt. Still, to some of us (and by “us,” I mean people from Western New York), these kinds of things are important.

No one can explain why, but for whatever reason, deep-fried chicken wings coated in hot sauce, taste really good dunked into creamy blue cheese dressing. However, despite this if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it dipping sauce, people started serving Buffalo wings with Ranch dressing. I’m not sure why, but assume it was some type of strong-arm tactics by the buttermilk industry. Those bastards.

I’m not saying that chicken wings dipped in Ranch are terrible; I’m just saying that the sharper, saltier tang of blue cheese dressing works much better. That goes for the classic hot wings, as well as when this iconic recipe is in dip form.

As I joked about in the video (it wasn't a joke), you can’t keep showing up at these Super Bowl parties with a bag of chips every year. So, if you’re ready to go from snack scrub to appetizer all-star, then give this great baked dip a try. Enjoy!

3 cups diced cooked chicken
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot pepper sauce, or other Louisiana-style hot sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese, plus a little for the top
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (if you can’t find, here is what’s in it)
cayenne, to taste

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And the Winner is…Food Wishes!

I'm proud to announce that Food Wishes has been awarded the 2012 Tasty Award for Best Food Program: Web. I can't thank you all enough for taking the time to nominate and vote for the blog. 

I wasn’t able to attend the ceremonies in Hollywood, but our dear friend Sara, from Average Betty, did, and graciously accepted on our behalf. When she wasn’t accepting other people’s Tasty Awards, she was accepting her own, winning for Best Critic or Review Series. Congratulations, Sara, and thank you for representing!

Speaking of representing, check out this great video Sara did recently featuring David Chang’s Potato Volcano from the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. If you're looking for a metaphorically suitable Valentine's side dish, this may be just the thing. Click here to check out the full blog post and recipe on Average Betty. Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

“Steakage” – Changing the Shape of Your Steak Sandwich

Hot dogs and hamburgers are fine for the regular season, but when the playoffs and Super Bowl roll around, you need to upgrade the tailgate menu to something a little more special, like this “steakage” steak sandwich.

The name comes from the fact that the steak is being treated more like a sausage link. The problem with a traditional steak sandwich is it usually consists of a thin slice of beef, grilled and served on a thick sandwich roll. The steak to bread ratio is way off, and it’s very easy to overcook the meat.

Here, by cutting our steak into thick strips, we not only have a more geometrically appropriate piece of meat for our smaller bun, but we are able to get a nice sear on the outside without having to worry about the inside overcooking.

I used a gorgeous flat iron steak, and I really hope you can get one from your butcher, but if you can’t, this technique should work for other cuts of steak as well. NY strip, rib eye, top sirloin, and tenderloin could all be made to work. The key is something that can be cut into a large slab first, ideally about 1 1/2-inch thick, and then into strips about the same width, and as long as your bun.

I was very happy with these, and really enjoyed the little extra something the grilled mushrooms provided. The smoky salad added an earthy texture to the grilled beef, and it was all tied together nicely with the barbecue vinaigrette. To make this easy and versatile condiment, simply combine 3 parts barbecue sauce, with 2 parts vegetable oil, and 1 part cider vinegar.

So, if you were planning on splurging for your next backyard tailgate, and want to serve something a little out of the ordinary, then maybe give this whole “steakage” thing a try. By the way, it goes without saying that this would rock with cheese on it, but the American Kobe beef I was lucky enough to use was so exquisite that I didn’t want to cover it up. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 fully-trimmed flat iron steak
6 hot dog buns
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
mayonnaise and arugula leaves as needed

For the mushrooms salad:
8 oz brown clamshell mushrooms, grilled, separated
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

For the bbq vinaigrette:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar

Monday, January 9, 2012

Creamy Mushroom Meatloaf – An Experiment in Letting Your Meat Loaf

If you’ve ever said goodbye to someone, and on the way out added a hearty, “Hey, don’t let your meat loaf!” then I just gave you a virtual high-five. In this context however, we’re taking about letting your meat “loaf” for a long time in a low oven, sitting in a rich, creamy shiitake mushroom gravy.

The main point of this exercise was to determine the benefits of cooking a meatloaf and sauce at the same time, in the same pan, but I was also planning on giving you a very nice “three meatloaf” recipe (using beef, pork and veal). Unfortunately, I wasn’t totally thrilled with the results, so you’ll have to wait until I perfect the final formula.

This "Three Meatloaf" recipe was good,
but not Food Wishes good, yet. Stay tuned!
Regardless, this technique will work with just about any meatloaf recipe out there. I really liked how the roasting meatloaf fortified the sauce with its flavorful drippings. The meatloaf was very moist, and seemed to have picked up some nuances from the sauce as well. One negative is you do have to skim a lot of fat off the top, but that seems a small price to pay for a quality one-dish meal.

You can adjust the texture of your gravy by adding more broth if it seems to be drying out during the cooking time, or, like I did, boil the sauce for a few minutes at the end to thicken it up a bit. Anyway, the next time you’re in the mood for meat in loaf form, and a creamy mushroom gravy, I hope you give this tasty technique a try. Enjoy!

1/4 cup butter
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups cold beef broth
1/2 cup cream
1 ready for the oven meatloaf (2-3 pounds)

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Banana Bread That’s Okay to Make Early

Banana bread is one of those things people rarely make on purpose. Even though you know you’re not going to eat seven bananas in a week, you buy the big bunch anyway, because, “it’s kind of green.” Now, those last three bananas are almost black and you’re feeling like a bad person.

Then you remember banana bread, and long story short, you realize you’re not a bad person…in fact, you kind of rock. While that’s the most common scenario, this scrumptious banana walnut loaf, spiked with dark chocolate chips, is so good you’ll want to make it well before the bananas get to that condition. Yes, it does come out better with extra ripe bananas, but if you can’t wait (like I couldn’t), you’re still in for a treat.

The chocolate chips are sparse here, but make a big difference in the overall flavor. This is a case where more wouldn’t necessarily make it better. This should be more of a snack, not a super-sweet dessert. When Michele makes this, she actually grates unsweetened baking chocolate instead, and it’s amazingly like that also. And, don’t even get me started on how good this is toasted.

The recipe is adapted from one by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, from their cookbook, City Cuisine. It’s one of the oldest cookbooks we have, and has tons of great recipes, so check the link if you’re interested. Enjoy!

Banana Bread Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
*Bake in a 9x4 loaf pan at 325 degrees F. for about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recipe 666: Deviled Eggs – Damn, These Were Hella Good

As I approached my 666th upload on YouTube, several subscribers wondered if I would do some sort of satanic-inspired recipe. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions was to eat less chocolate cake, I decided to go with the next most obvious choice.

My deviled eggs recipe is fairly standard, except I like to add a little cream cheese. Unlike mayonnaise, cream cheese firms up when chilled, and provides a little more luxurious texture. The other glaring addition is a simple, yet stunning ring of candied Fresno chili pepper. I think a little sweetness is important to balance the sharp flavors, and these “rings of fire,” along with a dash of rice vinegar, worked perfectly.

Besides sharing this much-requested recipe, and the gratuitous use of the words, “damn” and “hell,” the other reason I wanted to do this video was to prove that our previously posted hard-boiled egg method works as advertised. The procedure was posted back in March 2010, and some complained it didn’t work. Well, I used the exact same method, and it worked perfectly, again.

This time I’m giving an exact temperature of 210 degrees F, whereas before I just said to bring to a simmer. I imagine many failures were due to people not getting it to a high enough temperature. You also need a heavy pot and tight lid, as well as live close to sea level, but other than that, you should be fine.

By the way, I did try to get the Devil to make a cameo appearance, but he was too busy meeting with the Kardashians on a new deal. Anyway, the NFL playoffs are just about to start (Go, Giants!), so maybe give these sinfully delicious deviled eggs a try for your next big game day buffet. Enjoy!

12 large eggs cooked in 3 quarts of water as shown
2 tbsp cream cheese
1/3 cup mayo
1/2 tsp Sriracha or to taste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
chives to garnish
For the candied peppers:
1/4 cup red chili rings
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goat Cheese Apple Walnut Pasta – Suspect Supper Turns into Super Side Dish

It sounded so good on paper. Yes, this creamy, tangy goat cheese sauce, spiked with sweet apples and walnuts was going to make quite the memorable winter pasta dinner. The only problem was, halfway through the bowl I suffered that most dreaded of all pasta eating afflictions…palate fatigue.

For whatever reason, after three or four ounces of this perfectly fine concoction, I got tired of eating it. It wasn’t that it started to taste bad; it just became a little tedious. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, especially with a bowl of macaroni.

However, instead of declaring my goat cheese, apple, walnut pasta entrée idea a failure, I decided to cleverly re-brand it as a tasty, seasonal side dish. The same exact recipe that fell a little flat as a main course, turned out to be a stellar side for some roast pork.

Of course, with taste being as subjective as it is, maybe you’ll have a different opinion as to this pasta’s worthiness as a headliner, but I wanted to be clear about my official recommendation. Even simply adding some slices of cooked chicken breast would have transformed the dish into something a little less “one-note.”

By the way, this isn’t something to make way ahead of time, as the walnuts react with the dairy in the sauce, and will turn your leftovers a fairly disturbing purple-blue color! If you’re not going to eat this immediately, then don’t mix in the nuts until service. I hope you give this great winter pasta…err, I mean side dish, a try soon. Enjoy!

2 cups ditalini, or other small macaroni
1 tbsp butter
1 apple, diced
1 cup chicken broth
4 oz fresh creamy-style goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I Had for Breakfast

It's been a while since I posted a, "What I Had for Breakfast," photo, but this Dungeness crab cake Benedict was just begging to be shown off. It's topped with an Old Bay hollandaise, spiked with capers and tarragon. Happy New Year!