Friday, May 30, 2014

Prison-Style Meatloaf – How to Stretch Your Meat Further

The main point of this prison-style meatloaf video is to show you what happens when you make meatloaf like your grandparents did. And no, I'm not accusing your relatives of spending time in the joint. During the Great Depression this type of dish was a popular strategy for stretching what little meat you had, into as filling a meal as possible.

As times got better, people went back to meatier versions, and now only low-budget, high-volume food service operations feature this culinary dinosaur. I did an Italian meatball-inspired version, which was quite nice, but this method will work with virtually any meatloaf recipe.

Most modern meatloaves call for about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dry crumbs per two pounds of meat, and here we’re using 1 1/2 cups. It makes a significant difference in the texture, producing something much softer and moister. While not as "meaty," this does make for an interesting alternative to play around with. I'm looking at you, family of 10.

As I say in the video, I decided to spike my tomato sauce with too much balsamic vinegar, which rendered it not great. So, if you’re going to follow this recipe, just use a regular pasta sauce, or your favorite meatloaf glaze. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 1 giant meatloaf (about 10 large portions):
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground chuck
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about a packed 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups very dry white bread crumbs (not toasted!)
1 1/2 cups milk to soak (squeeze out excess)
3 or 4 cups of tomato sauce to bake in, optional

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream – This is So Not Cheating

Many people consider this type of strawberry ice cream recipe a “hack” or a “cheat,” because we’re skipping the more time-consuming and sometimes temperamental egg custard step; but even if I didn’t want to save time, and possibly eggs, I’d still prefer this method.

To be clear, I’m only speaking about this specific flavor of ice cream. For deep, dark chocolate, or butter pecan, I’ll take the classic French-style every time. But, for sweet, juicy strawberries, I’m not a big fan of the subtle egginess you get with the traditional method.

For me it muddles the fruitiness, and coats the tongue a bit too much. When I eat a bowl of this on a blazing hot summer day, I want nothing but pure strawberries and cream goodness. To achieve that you need to include a lot of strawberry puree, and all that extra liquid means the texture will not be quite as luxurious. It’s minor sacrifice.

Feel free to skip the 10-second blending of the cream, but I like how it very slightly thickens the mixture. A few seconds too long however, and you’ll have whipped cream, which is going to give you a frozen mousse effect; not something I’m into personally.

By the way, rumor has it that these make some pretty spectacular ice cream sandwiches, if you can get your hands on some shortbread cookies. So, as we head into another long, hot summer, I hope you give this fast, simple, and very delicious strawberry ice cream recipe a try. Enjoy!

12 ounces trimmed strawberries (one of those baskets should get you close)
3/4 cup white sugar
very tiny pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 cups heavy cream

Monday, May 26, 2014

Next Up: Strawberry Ice Cream

Celebrating Memorial Day

I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy Memorial Day, and as usual, ask you to take a few moments in between bites of whatever grilled goodness you’re enjoying to remember all the chefs and cooks that serve so bravely feeding our troops in times of war.

I’ve said this before, but it’s the thank-you emails I get from our servicemen and women stationed abroad that I find the most inspiring of all. To be able to provide these heroes with a few moments of entertainment makes my otherwise frivolous existence seem a little less so. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America!

Photo above is from our No-Bake Cheesecake Flag Cake video

Friday, May 23, 2014

Asian-Style Grilled Flap Meat Salad – You Heard Me, Flap Meat

Memorial Day marks the official opening of American grilling season, and what better way to celebrate than with this unique, and delicious flap meat? Hilarious name notwithstanding, this classic “butcher’s cut” is every bit as flavorful and tender as flank or skirt steak, and is usually cheaper as well.

This is not something they keep in the meat case, so you’ll have to ask them to cut you a few pounds, but it’ll be worth it, and they’ll think you’re cool. Most people haven’t heard of flap meat or flap steak, but it’s hardly an exotic cut. 

If you like Mexican food, and order carne asada, you’ve enjoyed grilled flap meat. While it did make for some extremely tasty Asian-style lettuce wraps, you can use this in so many other wonderful ways. Half the fun is playing around with different marinades and spices, but regardless of how you flavor yours, you should try this in tacos, as well as for an amazing Philly cheesesteak. 

Just be sure to get that grill really hot before you slap down your flap. This needs to be cooked hot and fast, and as close to the coals as you can get. Since everyone asks, I’m using a charcoal Weber “Q,” which is unfortunately not made anymore. Hey Weber, please make this grill again. Thank you. Anyway, if you’re looking for a fun, new meat for your Memorial Day cookout, I hope you give this grilled flap meat a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 4 portions:
2 pounds flap meat
2 tbsp green curry paste, or as needed
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp coconut milk
freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
salt if needed
Lettuce, carrots, red onions, chopped peanuts, and cilantro leaves for salad
--Marinate for 4-12 hours in fridge, or an hour out at room temp.

*For the dressing, into the reserved meat juices, I added sambal, fish sauce, and rice vinegar to taste. I didn’t measure anything, and neither should you. Taste, adjust, repeat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Creamy Asparagus & Cauliflower Soup with Hold the Bacon

It's hard to make a plain old vegetable soup with a well-stocked fridge. You want to make a light, healthy, restorative soup, but as you reach in the fridge for the vegetables, your hand has to pass things like butter, cheese, and crème fraiche; not to mention dealing with bacon’s sweet, smoky, siren song.

But this time, I resisted all temptations and somehow managed to keep this fairly pure. I don’t expect you to show the same restraint. However, if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a delicious bowl of soup that despite being dairy-free, looks and feels pretty creamy. We have cauliflower to thank for that.

The soup looks like a classic cream of asparagus, and your eyes will fool your palate to a certain extent. In addition to giving it a nice color, the bumpy superfood also provides a smoother texture to the soup than the less starchy asparagus could achieve alone.

Speaking of nice color, try to get your hands on some nasturtiums. They are quite safe to eat...I’ve heard from several people...and have a very subtle watercress-like flavor. They’re not fried bacon, but what is? Anyway, whether you choose to accessorize this soup or not, I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 8 cups of soup:
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 chopped cloves garlic (you can also add diced onions, leeks, shallots, etc at this point as well)
*6 cups chicken broth, or water for you vegetarians
1 head cauliflower cut into small florets (about 1 3/4 lb)
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste 
nasturtium petals for garnish
*use more or less broth to adjust soup to your desired thickness.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Classic Split Top Hot Dog Buns – How We Should Be Rolling

When we posted our hamburger bun video last year, I received a bunch of requests for hot dog buns. My first thought was, just take the same dough and shape it into logs instead of rounds. I mean, come on…how hard is that? Turns out, that was just the grocery store talking. I’d been so used to eating those insipid side-split rolls, it took seeing a photo of a lobster roll to remember what a real hot dog buns are supposed to be like.

Don’t get me wrong; if you hand me a hot dog at the ballgame, it’s not like I’m going to throw it back in your face (unless you have Dodger face paint on), but given the choice, this butter-crisped, split-topped bun is the way to go. Thanks to its genius design, the meat and fixings go in the top, which leave three relatively flat sides to toast in butter. How this thing never got patented is the real mystery.

Just be sure to either buy hot dogs large enough to fit your homemade buns, or adjust the size of your rolls to match your favorite wiener. I’m sorry, but people who put short hot dogs on the long buns, and then pinch off the ends of the bread, should be put in jail. Not for life, but at least 3 to 5 years.

You can also make the same number of rolls as you have hot dogs, which apparently is the kind of calculation the hot dog bun industry can’t quite master. Okay, hot dogs come 10 in a package, so let’s do the buns in packs of 8. Seriously, what’s wrong with these people? Anyway, math aside, I hope you give these old-fashioned, split top hot dog buns a try soon. Enjoy!

Please Note: As I mention, this is the exact same dough as our hamburger bun recipe. Click here to watch the official dough video

Ingredients to make 8-10 hot dog buns:
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann's “RapidRise” Yeast)
1 cup warm water (105 F.)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 pound all-purpose flour (*about 3 1/2 cups)
*Note: add a 1/2 cup of the flour to the yeast and water, and then the remainder before kneading

Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown

Monday, May 12, 2014

Chef John’s On Vacation!

Please Note: Photo is for metaphorical purposes only.
Chef John is not vacationing in the tropics.
There are many things I enjoy about my partnership with Allrecipes – amazing tech support, access to state-of-the-art equipment (I don’t know how to use it, but still), and being able to work with talented, like-minded foodies; but above and beyond that, I love that they actually make me take vacations.

At first, they had to force me to take them, since I was convinced that if I went a week without posting a video, the Internet would implode. After realizing that wasn’t the case, my ego and I relaxed, and now we actually look forward to these mandatory breaks.

Anyway, I’ll be off all this week, and while comments will be published, I’ll not be monitoring the blog, so when it comes to questions and comments, you’ll be at the mercy of fellow foodwishers. Good luck with that. Thanks, and see you next week!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Green Goddess Dressing – Oh. My. God.

What's the difference between Green Goddess dressing and Green God dressing? Green Goddess dressing takes a lot longer to get ready. Sorry, but I couldn’t fit that joke into the voice over. Anyway, here’s my take on San Francisco’s very own, Green Goddess dressing.

This creamy, herby, addictively delicious sauce is not only my favorite salad dressing, but also one of my favorite dips as well. You can of course tweak the acidity with more or less lemon, as well as play with the salt and pepper, but please, do not change the trio of herbs. The way the parsley and chive play against the sweet tarragon makes this unlike any other herb dressing.

This is truly fit for a Goddess, and with Mother’s Day coming up Sunday, what better way to make your mom feel like one? That, and a complete spa package with extra long foot massage, and she should be set. I hope you give this Green Goddess dressing a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 cups of Green Goddess Dressing:
(all the following amounts should be adjusted to your tastes)
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup chopped tarragon leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Next Up: A Tardy Green Goddess

Due to major plumbing circumstances beyond our control, today's new video will be tomorrow's new video. The good news is, you'll have this classic American dressing in plenty of time to impress mom. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sausage Stuffed Piquillo Peppers – Not So Rare Spanish Beauty

There’s nothing quite like the piquillo pepper. They’re sweet, fruity, slightly smoky, and just bitter enough. For me, they’re the San Marzano tomatoes of peppers. And while I enjoy them in literally anything, these delicate, triangular beauties are just made for stuffing.

I don’t think I’ve ever filled them the same way twice, and while this most recent exploration was quite amazing, who knows what the future will bring. Having said that, this one may be worth repeating. I loved this Spanish-inspired combination of flavors.

The thing to keep in mind is that since you’re only cooking these for about 20 minutes, you’ll want to stay away from things that take longer than that. Things like raw rice, or larger chunks of vegetables just won’t work well here. Thankfully that leaves like a thousand other possible ingredients, so you have that going for you.

These are surprisingly easy to find, and any high-end grocery store should stock them. Gourmet cheese shops almost always have them, and you can find them all over the Internet. If all else fails, ask any Spanish person living near you, and they will know. I hope you give these beautiful peppers a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Stuffed Piquillo Peppers:
12 Piquillo Peppers
olive oil, as needed
4 oz chorizo, Merguez sausage, or any spicy sausage meat
1/2 cup diced green onions
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked white long grain rice
2 oz goat cheese
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp parsley, plus more to garnish
cayenne to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 large egg
2 tbsp sliced or chopped almonds
1 tsp blood orange zest
1 tbsp blood orange juice
400 F. for 15-20 minutes

Monday, May 5, 2014

Salsa Cruda de Nuevo

I wanted wish everyone a very happy Cinco de Mayo, or as I used to call it, "Mexican St. Patrick’s Day." I don’t anymore, since I heard about some college kids who now have to do a year of tolerance training, after planning a celebration called “Cinco de Drinko.” While funny, it is inappropriate, and so I’ve decided not do any more jokes like that...after this paragraph.

Anyway, in addition to large amounts of beer and tequila, the cornerstone of any great Cinco de Mayo party is the salsa, and this version we posted a few years ago is about a thousand times better than anything you’ll get from a jar. I hope you give it a try, if not today, sometime soon. Click here to view the original post, and get the ingredient amounts. Enjoy!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Olive Oil Poached Tuna – You Can Tuna Fish

You’re perfectly happy eating regular canned tuna, until the day you taste the imported, olive oil-packed tuna, and realize exactly what you’ve been missing. You tell people that there’s nothing better, but that’s not entirely true. There’s this.

By gently poaching fresh ahi tuna in olive oil, you can create a “tuna fish” of exceptional quality. The taste and texture are amazing, and you can adapt this in many ways. Besides switching up herbs and seasonings, you can cook the fish to a wide range of doneness.

Traditionally, the tuna is cooked all the way through, and preserved in the oil. This is a perfectly fine way to do it, and you will be blown away by the results. If you want to cook it through, simply keep it in the oil on low heat, until it’s just barely pink in the center (it’s okay to peek). Then proceed as shown, and by the time it cools it will be perfect.

Or if you prefer, you can follow my lead, and give it a briefer basting in the hot oil, so that after cooling in the oil, you’ll still have some gorgeous pink running through. There are so many variables, so the 5-7 minutes I did mine should only be a guideline for you. If you stop when the tuna is rare to medium-rare, by the time it cools in the hot oil, you should get something close to what I have here.

You can also do just one steak in a smaller pan, and it should work about the same. By the way, do not throw away the olive oil! You can use it for salads and pastas, or strain and freeze for another batch. It may take you a few experiments, but once you dial it in to how you like, you will be enjoying one of life’s great pleasure. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

2 thick cut ahi tuna steaks (about 10-12 ounce each)
enough olive oil to come to surface of tuna steaks
handful of thyme sprigs
2 whole garlic cloves, bruised
red pepper flakes to taste
sea salt to taste