Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Spicy, Dicey, Mango Relish

I’m sure I’ve done at least 50 videos where I promise I’ll show a side dish or technique seen therein at a future date. Of course, I usually forget about it shortly thereafter, unless someone pokes me, but in the case of this spicy mango relish, I actually reminded myself.

I found myself in possession of some nice, fat shrimp, which I planned to spice up and sear simply (I promise to show that recipe at a future date). I was thinking of topping with some kind of fresh salsa, when I saw Michele had bought some mangoes for a lassi (I promise to show that recipe at a future date).

As luck would have it, the mangoes were sitting near a can of coconut milk, and I remembered the rice pudding video, and the diced mango technique I had so casually promised. The rest of the story is kind of anti-climatic.

This mango relish is wonderfully versatile and infinitely adaptable. It might be at its best simply enjoyed with tortilla chips, but a close second would be as I used it here, to dress some kind of spicy meat. It was crazy good on these shrimp. Promise me you will give it a try soon…or at a future date. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 3/4 cup Mango Relish:
1 mango, prepped as shown
2 tsp chopped cilantro
2 tsp sambal chili sauce, or other type of fresh or jarred chilies
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
big pinch of salt
Please Note: everything here is “to taste.”

View the complete recipe

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Humbling Strawberry Rhubarb Reminder

I was checking Twitter mentions last week, and saw that a viewer by the name of
nguyen4 had posted a strawberry rhubarb pie photo on Instagram (left), and credited me for the recipe. At first, I thought they were mistaken, as I didn’t recognize the pie as one of my creations, but then I realized that was because they’d made it so much better looking than mine. I hate/love when that happens. 

Anyway, once I got over this blow to my ego, I decided to repost this in case you missed it the first time, or just needed a little reminder as to what a fantastic spring pie this really is. Enjoy!

To read the original post and get the ingredient amounts, click here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Strawberry Granita – So Forking Refreshing

We never had air conditioning growing up, and the closest we’d get was a visit to the refrigerator. You’d open the door, and let the cool air wash over you, as you pretended to look for something to eat. Of course, after a few glorious minutes, mom would figure out what was going on, and yell to close the door. I wish I had known about this strawberry granita recipe back then.

You can make and serve this gorgeous granita any time, but it’s really best enjoyed during the summer months. Not only because it’s cold and delicious, but also because it forces you to stick your hot, sweaty face in the freezer four or five times to stir. It’s such a bracing and refreshing experience that I almost feel sorry for people that do have AC. Almost.

Besides a welcomed respite from the heat, this mandatory, periodical forking creates the dessert’s signature texture. By breaking up the ice crystals as the granita freezes, you’ll get what looks exactly like ground granite, which is where this sweet treat’s name actually comes from.

I know it’s still early spring, but strawberries are beautiful right now, so why not practice a few times before the serious heat waves hit? By the way, let me be the first one to say it to you this year…it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 servings:
(Note: Yes, this will work with other fruit and berry purees)
2 pounds strawberries
1 cup water
1/3 to 1/2 cup white sugar (depending on sweetness of berries)
(Note: I've not tried other types of sweeteners)
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
very small pinch of salt
*Note: freezing times will vary greatly depending on how cold, empty, large, etc., your freezer is. Just keep checking and forking!

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pita Bread – What’s in Your Pocket?

There are many baked products that you could make at home, but because of time, effort, and quality issues, probably shouldn’t. Fortunately, pita bread is not on that list. The dough is easy to make, and much like the flour tortillas we did, the taste and texture of the freshly made product is far superior to anything that comes with a twist tie.

The method is very straightforward, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about production. As you’ll see in the clip, after you roll the pita dough out, you’ll need to let it rest for 5 minutes before grilling. Since each one takes about 5-6 minutes in the pan, while one is cooking, you’ll want to roll the next, so it’s rested and ready to puff.

Speaking of “puff,” don’t be too upset if yours don’t go full balloon. Sometimes they all puff, sometimes some, and sometimes none. This is the way of the pita. But the good news is, even if they don’t fully puff, you should still get some sort of internal pocket with which to stuff. Even if you don’t, it’s okay…you’ll just call them “flatbread” instead! I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 pita breads:
For the sponge mix:
1 pkg dry active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm water (about 90-100 degrees F.)
1 cup (4.5 oz by weight) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, or until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms (about 8-9 oz by weight)
*Let rise about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Form 8 small, round loaves, let rise 30 minutes. Roll out and let rest 5 minutes before grilling.

View the complete recipe

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meatless Meatballs! Celebrating the Magical Meatiness of Mushrooms on Earth Day

I’ve wanted to turn our famous veggie burger recipe into a meatless meatballs recipe for a long time now, and figured there would be no more appropriate occasion than Earth Day to reveal the results. After all, as I joke about in the clip, eating mushrooms is about as close to literally consuming the earth as you can get.

Despite being completely free of meat, at least the animal kind, these “meatballs” were fantastic. Thanks to a thorough browning, the mushrooms provided more than enough savoriness, and the garlic, cheese, and parsley did the rest. As impressive as I thought the taste was, what really blew me away was how close the texture was to actual meatballs.

For me, the true test of any alternative meatless recipe is whether I would eat it again, based on taste and texture alone, and not just because it’s meatless. In this case, I would…many times over. No, I’m not giving up real meatballs, but for a delicious and vegetarian-friendly change of pace, these really were tremendous.

So, whether you're going to make these because you’re a vegetarian who has been searching for a meatless version, or you’re a hard-core meat eater who just can’t believe your ears and eyes, I hope you give these a try soon. Have a happy Earth Day, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 small meatballs:
(recipe can easily be doubled!)
1 pound white mushrooms, chopped into very small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt to sauté mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced onions
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 cup instant oatmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
packed 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 ounce by weight, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, very finely grated on a microplane
(Note: it looks like a ton of cheese in the video, but it was only 1-oz. Because I used a microplane to grate it, it created a huge looking pile of cheese. It would be about 1/2 cup if you measure, but use weight for this ingredient!)
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
pinch of dried oregano
2 eggs
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce.
*Let mixture sit overnight in fridge. Bake meatballs for 12-15 at 450 degrees F., then simmer in sauce for 30-60 minutes before serving.

View the complete recipe

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why She Cooks and Why She Films

I wanted to share this video by my pal, and super-talented video storyteller, Liza de Guia, featuring another dear friend, Jennifer Perillo, from In Jennie’s Kitchen. If you’re a regular on this blog, you know I’ve shared many of Liza’s gorgeous, entertaining videos before, and this one is no different. This video is part of Food Curated’s Why We Cook series, and it shows exactly why I’m such a big fan of both these talented women’s work.

I’ll let the video speak for itself, but I couldn’t agree more with Jennie’s thoughts on fear in the kitchen. By the way, Jennifer has recently published her first cookbook, Homemade with Love, and it’s getting rave reviews. I’ve not read it yet, but will be doing so very soon. If you’re interested in taking a look, you can check it out here. Special thanks to Liza for letting us share her work, and also to Jennie for being a continuing source of inspiration. I hope you enjoy this, and find it as moving as I did.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Celebrating National Garlic Day with Sopa de Ajo - Spanish Bread and Garlic Soup

As a very, very small percentage of you may know, tomorrow is National Garlic Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a big bowl of Spanish garlic soup? Sopa de Ajo is a wonderfully rustic bread soup, spiked with sliced garlic, paprika, and ham.

If that wasn’t enough to get your attention, it’s also topped with eggs poached in the fragrant, brick red broth. It’s like a steaming bowl of breakfast-for-dinner. 

Like I say in the clip, there are as many ways to make this as families in Spain, but I really think toasting the bread is key. You’re basically replacing the flavorless water in the bread with olive oil and awesome soup.

Plus, having the olive oil baked into the cubes makes for a better texture in my opinion. Whether you make this tomorrow to celebrate a totally made-up holiday, or wait until you have some stale bread sitting around, I really hope you try this incredibly comforting Spanish soup. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
About 6 cups of cubed French or Italian bread
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle on bread cubes
6-10 thinly sliced garlic cloves
2 oz ham diced
1-2 tsp paprika or to taste
6 cups chicken broth
4 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tzatziki Sauce – Can You Say Delicious?

Whenever I do ethnic recipes like this Greek tzatziki sauce, I’ll usually go online and listen to an audio dictionary or some YouTube videos to verify the pronunciation. Of course, just listening to it doesn’t mean I’ll actually be able to pronounce it that way. A western New York accent is a strange and unpredictable thing, but at least I know how far off I am.

This time things were a little different.  I must have listened to a half-dozen examples, and they all were fairly unique. Everything from how I say it, TA-ZEE-KEY, to something that sounded a lot like CHA-CHEE-KEE, which, by the way, is my new favorite way to say it. Just for fun, maybe you all can leave your best phonetic spelling of “Tzatziki” in the comments section, and we’ll see what the consensus is.

Unlike the pronunciation, one thing that everyone will agree on is that this garlicky yogurt sauce is truly of one of the world’s great condiments. This is quite literally delicious on anything savory, and with grilling season upon us, you’ll want this one in your regular rotation. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Make about 3 cups of Tzatziki:
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber, peeled, grated, tossed with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
juice of half a lemon or vinegar to taste
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill and/or mint
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste

View the complete recipe

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Friendly Pasta Primavera Reminder

This Pasta Primavera is one of my favorite spring recipes of all time, so I thought I'd post a little reminder just in case you have an opening in your meal plan this week. If you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and try this dish! It's truly one of life's simple, and very green, pleasures. Click here to read the original post, and get the ingredients. Enjoy!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fisherman’s Pie – The Deadliest Casserole

I’ve never been a huge fan of the fisherman reality shows like Wicked Tuna and Deadliest Catch. Seems like every situation that comes up, no matter how mundane, is made to look like a matter of life and death. Sure it’s relatively dangerous compared to selling shoes, but they’re mostly just fishing in crappy weather.

Riveting slip and falls notwithstanding, I think the real challenge in that environment would be trying to cook a decent meal. Imagine putting together this delicious, potato-crust-topped cod and spinach casserole in the galley of one of those boats. I actually get woozy thinking about it. 

Luckily most of us have a nice steady oven at home in which to make this comforting dish happen, rogue wave free. Speaking of the oven, be sure to check your fish to see if it’s flaking before taking it out. Mine took about 40 minutes, but my sauce and potatoes were warm. If you make your components ahead and they cool down, or your fish is thicker, it may take a while longer to bake, so poke and peek. You can always fix the top, and thanks to the broiler, no one will be the wiser. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

For potato crust:
3 russet potatoes
3 tbsp butter
nutmeg, salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
1/2 cup milk
For the sauce:
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cold milk
2 tsp lemon zest
salt to taste
For the rest:
1 tbsp butter to grease dish
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
2 pounds boneless cod filets
12 oz washed baby spinach
juice of 1/2 lemon
fresh chives to garnish

View the complete recipe

Thursday, April 11, 2013

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!

I heard that Friday is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, and what better way to commemorate than by making this epic version of America's favorite sandwich? Hopefully most of you have seen and made this before, but just in case, here you go. Enjoy!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Cashew Chicken – Keeping it Not Real

Grilling season is rapidly approaching, and chances are good that at some point you’ll be faced with a few leftover grilled chicken breasts. Will you take the easy way out, and make chicken salad? Or, will you be brave and attempt something way more interesting, like this Cashew Chicken? Probably the chicken salad, but I decided to post this just in case.

Yes, I’m at it again, making food that’s not trying to be Asian, yet looks close enough to upset people anyway. I can’t do anything about that, and won't be dissuaded from using sweet, rich cashews, and a spicy, sweet and sour sauce to disappear some leftover, grilled chicken just because some people will get annoyed.

Sure, there are a hundred ways to make it “better” or more “authentic,” but on a weeknight after a long day at work, with your show coming on in 20 minutes, none of that matters. This isn't about what you think when you taste it; it’s about what you don’t think. And what you don’t think is, “this is leftover chicken.”

Having said all that, I would be shocked and amazed if you didn’t tweak this to your own personal tastes. It really is a versatile recipe, and one I hope you try soon. Now, get out there and grill too much chicken, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6-8 thin slices of fresh ginger root
1 hot red chili pepper, sliced
1/2 cup dry roasted cashews
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 to 1 1/2 pound cooked chicken breast (about 2-3 breasts), cut into 1-inch cubes
For the sauce:
1/2 cup cold water or chicken broth, more as needed
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp ketchup
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce, more as needed
2 tsp sambal (hot ground chili sauce)
1 packed tbsp brown sugar
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

View the complete recipe

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Bunch of Asparagus Recipes

An abundance of fresh asparagus is one of spring’s great gifts to the kitchen, and there's no shortage of tasty ways to prepare this versatile vegetable. Just be sure to not let your fear of overcooking get in the way of the sweet, tender spears you deserve.

Nobody wants grey and mushy, but undercooked asparagus is tough and bitter, so be sure to check as you go. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh asparagus. Simply click on the link in the caption to see the video, read the original post, and get the ingredients. Enjoy!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Pie

Roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Roasted Asparagus with Fried Prosciutto and Poached Egg

Asparagus Souffle

Asparagus, Ham, and Ricotta Pizza

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Homemade Ketchup Because You’re Crazy Like That

I want to be very clear that I’m posting this copycat recipe for ketchup only because I’ve received countless food wishes for it, and not because I think it’s a great idea. It’s not even a good idea.  

This tweet I posted yesterday sums things up nicely,  “Making some homemade ketchup. Sure it costs more, and doesn't taste as good as store bought, but at least it takes a really long time to do.”

Of course, we’ve made lots of things that are generally better not homemade, like French fries and fried chicken, but this is much different. For most Americans, ketchup is one of our first taste memories, and if the flavor profile is even the slightest bit off, our brain computes this as “ketchup fail.”

Having said that, I’m very proud of how close this ketchup does come to those name brands in terms of taste, texture and color. I’ve never had a tomato paste-based ketchup that I liked, so I decided to cook down crushed tomatoes instead. This would require many hours of stirring on the stove, but by using the slow cooker, we take most of the labor out of the process. Sure it'll still take many hours to reduce down to a ketchup, but it will only require giving it a quick stir every hour or two.

As I joke about in the video (not really a joke), you’d have to be crazy to make your own ketchup, but despite my warnings, I know in my heart that many of you will give this a try nonetheless, and that makes me happy. Enjoy!

Ingredients to make 3 cups of Ketchup:
2 cans (28-oz) ground tomatoes (you can also used crushed, or just crush whole plum tomatoes)
2/3 cups white sugar
3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon onion powder (not salt!)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not salt!)
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 whole clove
* Cook on the high setting in an uncovered slow cooker until the mixture is reduced by about half and very thick. By the way, my “high” setting isn’t very high, so it took like 10 hours, but don’t rely on a time. Simply cook until it looks like mine did before I strained it.

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast items are one of the most popular food wishes around here, and while this isn’t technically a recipe, it is a critical technique to learn if you want to enjoy blueberry pancakes at their most delicious. 

Not only does this simple method ensure even distribution, but instead of dry, barely warm fruit, your blueberries will be hot, sweet, and bursting with juice. As far as the batter goes, you are on your own, but if you get stuck, try this old fashioned pancake recipe we posted a few years ago. It gets great reviews!

This video was actually inspired by a recent visit to a diner where I heard someone nearby order blueberry pancakes. That sounds pretty good, I thought to myself, momentarily regretting my corned beef hash decision. Well, good thing I stuck with the hash, as what came out was not blueberry pancakes, but pancakes with a handful of fresh blueberries tossed over the top.

Sorry, but those aren’t blueberry pancakes. No, the blueberries must be cooked inside the batter…but, just not too inside. By “throwing down” you’ll guarantee perfect cake/fruit integration every time. Of course this will work with other berries or cut up fruit, so feel free to try with anything you can grip. I hope you give this great technique a try soon. Enjoy!