Friday, October 31, 2014

Crispy Pork Belly with Celery Root Puree – Three Fats Beat as One

Thanks to social media, food bloggers, and celebrity chefs with too much time on their hands, pork belly was/is all the rage. It’s a common site on menus across the land, and you can’t channel surf past a food show without seeing it.

It also helps that people are no longer terrified to eat a little fat, and that’s what I’m banking on with this pork belly recipe. Yep, turns out sugar and the simple carbs do the real damage, so belly up to the bar. Sure, the fat content is a tad high, but it’s no different than that your average sausage link, and when paired with a tart, aromatic, root vegetable puree, it doesn’t feel heavy.

In fact, I use a touch of extra virgin olive oil to accent the meat and celery root. Celeriac is delicious, but fat free, and even though I added a little butter, the grassy, peppery oil lends a bracing richness. The same goes for the crispy-edged pork belly, and the dish provides an opportunity to enjoy three great fats doing three different things. I thought this was amazing.

I recommend getting your pork belly with the skin removed. It can get supper tough, and I prefer to work with it on it’s own (see ChicharrĂ³n). We still get plenty of crispy goodness, and I want nice, tender, succulent bites; not something that’s work to chew.

As I mentioned, I will show you the celery root recipe in the next video, so stay tuned for that. If you just can’t wait, I’m happy to report that this can be served with all your favorite pork chop sauces and sides, so feel free to jump the gun, or root in this case. I hope you give this great fall appetizer a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 appetizer-sized portions :
1  1/2 pound pork belly, skin removed
season generously with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika
- Wrap as show and roast for 6 hours at 200 F. (*Note: I said 5 1/2 in the video, but my pork was almost room temp, so I’m adding 30 minutes since most people will use chilled meat)
- Chill, cut into serving sized pieces and crisp up in reserved fat before serving

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meringue Bones and Ghosts – Scary Easy

While I know no one is ever actually scared by the "spooky" Halloween treats you see posted this time year, I do know for a fact that many people are terrified to work with meringue. Hopefully, these bones and ghosts will help chase those demons away.

As long as your bowl is clean, and you don’t accidentally get any egg yolk in there, you should be fine. It may take a while, especially if you do it by hand, but if you keep whisking, eventually you should get a nice, glossy meringue that will hold a shape when piped.

Speaking of which, you can make this in any shape you want, in case you were thinking about trying to do a full skeleton (show off). Of course, different shapes may change the cooking time, but you’ll figure it out.  As long as your meringue feels firm and dry, you’re probably in good shape to let it cool in the oven.

By the way, I did these on a very humid day in San Francisco, and as they sat on the plate, they sort of stuck together a little bit.  They came apart fairly easily, but I wanted to ask our experienced bakers and candy makers if there’s a trick to prevent this kind of thing? Maybe some powdered sugar or cornstarch? Let me know if you have any ideas.

These are probably a little too time-consuming, delicate, and completely inappropriate to use for Halloween trick-or-treaters, but if you’re having a holiday themed party, these would be a hit. I hope you give these meringue bones and ghosts a try soon, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for  about 2 dozen small bones, or other shapes:
2 large egg whites, room temp (don’t get any yolk in it or it will not work!)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar or fresh lemon juice
a scant 1/2 cup sugar (that means almost, but not quite full), added a spoon at a time, once the egg whites start forming a very soft meringue
* bake at 225 F. for 1 hour, then turn off oven and let cool with door closed another hour

Monday, October 27, 2014

Butt Seriously, Folks

The next video won’t be posted until Wednesday this week, as I’m taking a couple days off for a little medical procedure that men my age are recommended to get. Hair transplant? No, it’s much further down. 

That’s right, I’m going in for a colonoscopy, and as a minor YouTube celebrity, I feel it’s my duty to encourage all my fans and viewers over the age of 50 to do the same. I just skimmed the brochure, but apparently this simple test can save your life. 

Remember, the longer you’re around, the more traffic these videos get. So, if you’re my age and haven’t had one done yet, please contact your doctor and get it scheduled as soon as possible…and as always, enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Love New York

The recently posted Beef on Weck served as a reminder of just how many great regional recipes come from Upstate and Western New York. Here are a few of my favorites that you may have missed. To see the full post and recipe, just click on the title, and away you go. Enjoy!

Chicken Riggies

The pride of Utica! Easy and delicious, this is Italian-American comfort food at it's finest.

Chicken Spiedies

This sandwich hails from Binghamton, and besides learning a great, new chicken recipe, you'll also learn what "zuzu" is.

Syracuse Salt Potatoes

Not only is this Syracuse salt potatoes recipe one of the most delicious ways to cook baby spuds, it’s also one of the most interesting.

Cornell Chicken

Despite being invented by an Ivy League professor, this simple grilled chicken recipe is nothing short of amazing.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Beef on Weck, Part 2: The Meat Within

As promised, this is how I do roast beef for "beef on weck." In episode one, we made the weck rolls, which are awesome, but become significantly more so when filled with freshly roasted beef and horseradish. And, don't even get me started on the au jus.

There are many cuts of beef used for this, including top round, rump roast, and brisket, but I like to use a nice thick top-sirloin roast. Instead of cooking it in the oven, I like to pan-roast this on the stovetop. There are many advantages to this approach. Since top sirloin roasts are only a couple inches thick, they cook relatively fast. They're also tender, flavorful, and because of their shape, very easy to slice thinly, which is one of the keys to this amazing sandwich.

As far as the au jus goes, it’s only going to be as good as the beef broth or stock you use, but I have a great tip regarding where to find the nice stuff. Most of your higher-end grocery store chains, which have in-house butchery departments, usually sell homemade stocks in the frozen food section.

It makes sense, since there are so many bones and meat scraps available. Not only are these products usually high-quality, they’re also pretty affordable, so check there before you use something out of a carton.

Anyway, thanks for your patience, and I really hope you try both recipes, and experience Buffalo’s best-kept, and most delicious secret. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Beef on Weck sandwiches:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 pound top-sirloin roast
salt and pepper to taste
2 or 3 teaspoons flour
2 1/2 cups good quality beef broth
2 tsp aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste
4 kummelweck rolls
extra hot prepared horseradish, as needed
serve with chips or fries, and pickles

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy National Nut Day!

Yes, October 22nd is National Nut Day (thank you, Twitter), and while no one knows exactly why, it does give us an excuse to repost this deliciously addictive, spiced nut mix.

With party season rapidly approaching, the timing is perfect for this easy to make snack. Follow this link for the full post and ingredients. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beef on Weck, Part 1: The Kummelweck Roll – You’ll Be Thirsty for More

Welcome to the first of a two-part series on one of this country’s most delicious unknown sandwiches, the "Beef on Weck." This simple, but brilliant creation features thinly sliced, horseradish covered, roast beef, piled high on a freshly baked kummelweck.

The roll's fragrant caraway seeds and coarse salt are a perfect accent, and when you add a steaming ramekin of fresh beef jus for dunking, you’ll understand why this is the pride of Western New York. Sorry, chicken wings.

As legend has it, a pub owner in Buffalo, New York created the sandwich, hoping the salty rolls made by a local German baker would help increase drink sales. That sounds about right, and I do have it on very good authority that beef on weck works well with beer.

So, even if you’re not into roast beef, I still recommend you give these great sandwich rolls a try soon. And, if you are into roast beef sandwiches, I invite you to stay tuned for what I believe is America’s finest example. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Kummelweck Rolls:
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm water (105 F.)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg white
1 generous tsp honey
*3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour total (use 1/2 cup with yeast and water to start recipe)

* I mentioned a dough tip during the video, and that has to do with not adding all the flour at once. I like to add about 80% of the flour called for, and then continue adding small amounts as the dough kneads, until I have the perfect texture.  You want a soft, fairly sticky dough that pulls off the sides of the bowl clean.

For the topping:
1 large egg white beaten with 2 tsp water
coarse grain sea salt
caraway seed

- Bake at 425 F. for 18-20 minutes

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dutch Babies – Almost as Easy to Make as Real Babies!

I had my first "Dutch Baby" in Chicago a few years ago, and have wanted to do a video on them ever since. I’ve always been fascinated by how many different breakfast foods you can create using just milk, eggs, and flour; and this is one of the more interesting examples. Especially considering the unusual, and borderline disturbing name.

Sometimes called “German pancakes,” these have very little to do with Germany, and nothing to do with the Dutch. Apparently they were invented by German immigrants who were referred to as “Dutch;” a corruption of the word “deutsch.” So, save your emails saying they don’t have these in Germany or the Netherlands. We know.  

As I mentioned briefly in the video, I like to use a little less batter than many recipes call for. I think this provides the best crispy-to-custardy ratio. I topped mine with butter, lemon, and powdered sugar, but any and all traditional pancake toppings will work wonderfully. I hope you give these beautiful ‘babies” a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 small or 2 large portions:
3 large room temperature eggs
2/3 cup room temperature milk
packed 1/2 cup flour (really pack the measuring cup firmly with flour)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp clarified butter
- Bake at 425 F. 20-25 min
* garnish with melted butter, fresh lemon juice (Meyer if you can find it), and powdered sugar.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala – God Save the Curry

I probably get more requests for Indian food than any other ethnic cuisine, so I was very excited to be posting this chicken tikka masala; until I found out it’s actually a British recipe. It was the same feeling I had when I found out that pizza wasn’t invented in New York. 

So technically, I still owe you an authentic Indian recipe, but in the meantime I think this will do nicely. While this is a stripped-down version, where we’ve cut out several time-consuming steps, it was still incredibly delicious, and very Indian curry-like. 

As I mention in the video, this is usually done with heavy cream, but I like to use coconut milk instead. It’s probably a little better for you, but above and beyond that, the subtle sweetness it provides works beautifully with the spices in the dish.

By the way, you can substitute chicken breast here, but since we’re not doing the traditional yogurt marinade first, I believe thighs work much better in this version. Usually chicken breasts are marinated in yogurt first, and then cooked in a tandoor oven, before being added to the sauce. It is a great way to do it, but even without that step, I thought this was excellent. So, I hope you give this American version of a British version of an Indian curry a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions of Chicken Tikka Masala:
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 or 3 tablespoons clarified butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 rounded tbsp finely grated peeled ginger
1 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
1 can (13.5-oz) coconut milk, or about 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth, or as needed (use to adjust sauce consistency to you liking)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
salt to taste
4 cups steamed rice

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spiced Apple Chutney ...I Mean “Applesauce”

We’re getting close to applesauce season, and if you’re in the mood for a little upgrade, then consider this exotic, but very easy, spiced apple chutney. Actually, it’s way more than a little upgrade.

These types of fruit chutneys are some of the most flavorful things you’ll ever taste, and perfect condiments for those special occasion holiday dinners. If you like applesauce, you’ll find this a fairly familiar experience, and despite the ingredient list, nothing really overpowers the fruit.

You don’t really taste shallots or garlic, and everything works to amplify the appleness. The salt, spice, and vinegar makes this a savory condiment to be sure, yet it still works in pretty much every situation regular applesauce would, except maybe as baby food. Although?

Anyway, like I said in the video, you may have to call this “applesauce,” and make it when no one’s around, but one taste and I’m sure you’ll agree the ends justify the means. I hope you give this great apple chutney a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 2 1/2 cups:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
4 apples, peeled, 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup diced shallots or red onion
5 thick slices ginger
1/4 tsp red chili flakes, or to taste
1 whole star anise
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves minced garlic

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Let Them Drink Pie!

We usually do at least one edible holiday gift idea video, and I’m sure we will again this year, but in the meantime I thought I’d share this from my friends at This is technically a drinkable holiday gift idea, but as they say, it’s the thought that counts, and I think anyone would enjoy getting a jar of this. You can get the full recipe here. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crispy Pork Carnitas – These “Little Meats” are Special Treats

There’s nothing like carnitas. Cubes of fragrantly spiced pork are slowly cooked in lard until they’re crispy on the outside, while at the same time remaining soft and succulent inside. Bust some up on a warm tortilla, drizzle with braising liquid, top with a little salsa, onion, and cilantro, and you’re probably enjoying the world’s best taco.

I said probably, since these things can be debated forever, and who has that kind of time when there are carnitas to make? This is a very simple recipe to adapt to the home kitchen, and as long as you cook the pork until it’s fork tender before crisping, you’re almost guaranteed a gorgeous pile of memorable meat.

I show how to do a whole pan at once under the broiler, but you can just as easily crisp up small batches in a frying pan set on medium-high heat. Just spoon in some reserved fat, and cook until crisp. Either way, this is a very important step, and not to be skipped.

There are hundreds of different spice combinations you can use here, and I often switch things up. I always include the salt, pepper, orange, garlic, and cinnamon, but then see where my mood takes me. Having said that, this is a pretty typical ingredient list, except for maybe the Chinese 5-Spice.

Mine contained cinnamon, fennel seed, clove, ginger, and star anise; so if you can’t find any, just add a pinch of each of those things instead. It seemed to add a little extra sweetness to the meat, and I may even use more next time. Besides that, oregano and/or thyme are nice additions, as are various chili powders.

If you’ve never tried to make carnitas at home, I really hope this inspires you to try. If you’ve never had carnitas at all, I need you to call in sick tomorrow, and make this recipe immediately. It’s that good. And don’t forget the fire-roasted salsa. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 servings Carnitas:
3 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder), rind removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp kosher salt (this needs to be salted generously!)
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
1 orange, peel and juice
8 cloves peeled whole garlic
2 bay leaves, torn in half
1/4 cup olive oil
- Roast at 275 F. for about 3 1/2 hours or until fork tender

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fire-Roasted Cherry Tomato Salsa – Tastily Teasing Forward

Sorry to spoil the surprise, but I just had to give away the fact that this delicious fire-roasted cherry tomato salsa was created to go alongside some pork carnitas we’ll be posting next. They made such an incredible pairing, I was tempted to post it all together, but then I remembered it was Friday, and there was a baseball game coming on.

Speaking of which, whether you end up making the carnitas or not, this gorgeous salsa would shine on any big-game snack table. The fire-roasting brings out a tremendous amount of flavor, and provides just the right touch of smoky goodness. I’m sure your friends are more than happy with the jarred stuff, but once in a while it’s nice to see if they’re paying attention.

You’ll want the flame of your broiler (or electric heating element) about 3-4 inches above the food, which may or may not be how far away your top rack is. If it’s too close, just use the next rack down, and use a pan like I did in the video to get it to the correct height.

By the way, I know eating “burned” foods mean ingesting carcinogenic materials, but I don’t care. This is no different than eating grill marks on a steak, or the crispy blackened ends on a brisket, and I’m not about to stop eating those things, so why would a few spoons of this scare me?

Anyway, stay tuned for the pork carnitas video, and in the meantime, I hope you give this fire-roasted cherry tomato salsa a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredient for about 2 cups of salsa:
2 tsp olive oil
1 generous pint cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100’s if you can find them)
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
8 whole cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 jalapenos, sliced
juice of a lime, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
pinch dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried cumin
packed 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Not Exactly P.F. Chang’s, But Close Enough for the Internet

I don’t do a lot of copycat recipes; mostly because I don’t eat at the restaurants people are requesting the recipes from. I mean, unless they're going to throw in a couple bottles of wine, I’m not going to Olive Garden to figure out how they do their breadsticks. These chicken lettuce wraps however, are a delicious exception.

When I go back to visit my mom, we usually make it to P.F. Chang’s at least once, and always start the meal with their very popular chicken lettuce wraps. Off the record, they do a good job with most of the dishes I’ve had, but the wraps are clearly my favorite.

There’s an addictive quality to the contrasting combination of flavors and textures, and since this recipe has been requested many times, I decided I’d give it a go. Fair warning, I did almost no serious corporate espionage to find out what’s actually in these, but regardless, I loved how this came out, and it seems close enough.

One key here is to use a very large, non-stick pan, so the braising liquid/glaze sticks to the bits of food, rather than the bottom of the pan. Other than that, the technique is pretty simple, and not a lot can go wrong…unless you try to use chicken breast. Even if you think you don’t like them, use thighs, because in this you will. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 8 large or 16 smaller lettuce wraps:
Chicken mixture:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
1/3 cup green onion
1 can (8-oz ) water chestnuts, drained, minced
1 cup diced shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger

For the glaze:
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp red chili flakes, or to taste
4 garlic cloves, minced
about 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, basil leaves, and green onions to finish

iceberg lettuce leaves as needed