Friday, September 30, 2016

Apple Fritters – Not a Raw Deal

Just a few months ago, making something like apple fritters would have seemed crazy, but this time of the year, it makes perfect sense. Whether it makes perfect sense to spend the extra time and effort cooking the apple pieces before adding them to the batter, is something you’ll have to decide.

I didn’t think I liked apple fritters, but turns out I just don’t like chunks of almost raw apple, surrounded by a doughnut. Maybe I’ve just been going to the wrong shops, but I’ve never enjoyed the texture, and always wanted to try them with cooked apples.

For all I know, this is sacrilege to apple fritter purists, if there is such a thing, but it sure worked for me. I also like to use sparkling apple cider, instead of the usual milk, or regular cider. I’m not sure how much lighter it really makes them, but it seems to help. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!  

Ingredients for about 16 small apple fritters:
2 large or 3 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon butter to cook apples
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar, (plus 1 tablespoon for cooking apples)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup sparkling apple cider, or as needed

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bulgogi Beef – How They “Barbecue” in Korea (the Good Korea)

This is going to be a pretty easy post to write, since I know almost nothing about the fine art of bulgogi. I do know that if you follow along with what I did in the video, you’re going to end up with something very delicious, and fairly gorgeous, so that’s a good place to start.

I also know that you can control the texture by making your slices thicker or thinner, as well as changing the marination time. Obviously, the thinner the slice, and the longer it’s in the marinade, the softer and more tender the meat becomes. However, you can go too far, ending up with something mushy, and unappetizing.

Unfortunately, this is a matter of trial and error, and so to avoid all that, I generally go with just an hour or two, which always seems like plenty to me. I don’t want mushy meat, in the best examples I’ve had of this in Korean restaurants, while tender, still had a little bit of chewiness to them. Besides, the fact that this is such a fast-acting marinade, is one of the big advantages.

If you don’t do the boneless short ribs, and go with pork loin, or chicken, you’ll want to be especially careful, since it has less connective tissue. By the way, if you are an experienced bulgogi master, please feel free to pass any tips along. I really hope to give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
1 1/4 pound boneless beef short rib, or any other meat, sliced about 1/8-inch thick
4 finely crushed garlic cloves
1 generous tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/3 cup freshly grated Asian pear
1/4 cup grated yellow onion
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 or 2 tablespoon light brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes (Gochugaru)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
sliced green onions to finish
steamed rice

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to Make Perfect Instant Mashed Potatoes for Fun and Profit

I almost never do sponsored videos, and that has nothing to do with not wanting to sell out. I’d love to sell out. Who wouldn’t? No, it’s more the fact that very rarely does everything line up to make one of these possible, as it did with this video for Idahoan Signature™ Russets Mashed Potatoes.

Rarely do I get offered a chance to feature a product that I actually like, and use, so when they offered to sponsor a video, I jumped at the chance to show off one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Although, these are a far cry from the gummy, horribly artificial tasting stuff I ate as a kid. Made properly, they are remarkably close to freshly made.

And by properly made, I mean follow the directions on the package, which for an old chef is not easy. As you know I’m not big on measuring, but for this, that’s really the key. If you don’t believe me, go out and buy a package, and taste for yourself, as I think you’ll be impressed. I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Obligatory Sponsored Post Disclaimer: This post and video were sponsored by Idahoan Signature™ Russets Mashed Potatoes, and I was compensated for my efforts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pizza Dough Pretzels or Bavarian Bagels?

When you’re shopping, and get a sudden craving for homemade soft pretzels, there’s not a lot you can do to satisfy that yearning immediately. Sure, you can set some dough when you get home, and wait for it to rise, but by the time that’s done, how do you even know your still going to want pretzels?

Well, the solution to this probably not very common problem is store-bought pizza dough. While I don’t necessarily recommend it for making world-class pizza, if you’re willing to eat something that looks like a bagel, it works very well for making pretzels.

By the way, if you’re wondering exactly, specifically, and precisely what the difference is between bagels and pretzels, I’m not sure I’m the one to ask. I believe the doughs are slightly different, as well as the solution they’re boiled in, but above and beyond that, you should hit the search engines up for more details.

Normally, I would’ve done that before writing the post, but did I mention the pretzels and beer? Like I said in the video, if you do want to make your own pretzel dough, go for it, since the technique will work the same no matter where you’re dough comes from. Regardless of what you use, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 homemade soft pretzels:
1 pound prepared pizza dough, plus all-purpose flour as needed, divided into six balls
6 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
coarse salt

- Bake at 400 F. for about 20 minutes, or until beautifully browned, and stretch marks have formed. Exact times will depend the specific size and shape of your pretzel.

- Tip:  if you’re making rings, be sure to stretch them out, so your pretzels are not too thick. You don’t want them any fatter than I made, otherwise they become too bready. Larger, thinner dough rings we’ll give you a chewier pretzel, closer to the ones you get at the mall.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Classic Guacamole – How to Make Guacamole Like a Guacamaster

It’s National Guacamole Day, or at least for a few more hours it is. Having said that, there is no bad day to make guacamole. There are few things as easy, healthy, and delicious as this ubiquitous dip. However, unless you’re grinding your aromatic vegetation in a molcajete, or against a cutting board as seen here, you’re really not tasting a classic guacamole. 

The flavors not only become more intense, but actually change in character. This is just what those bland, fatty, but delectable avocados need. That and a thoughtful seasoning of lime juice, and maybe some more salt.

I know we’ve already posted a guacamole video, but that was like 8 years ago, and probably before I knew how to make it properly. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions:
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely diced white onion
2 tablespoons minced serrano pepper (or more jalapeño)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided in half (half to grind, half to add later)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for grinding vegetables, plus more to taste
6 small or 4 large Hass avocados
1 cup diced ripe tomatoes, drained, optional
juice of one lime, or to taste

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chicken à la King – Only in America

Chicken à la King is one of my favorite classic, comfort foods, and in additional to being delicious, you also get to make up your own story of where the name came from. Just promise me not to use mine. You can have the recipe, but the Don King story is proprietary.

This is an easy recipe to adapt, and you can also make it thicker/thinner if you want by simply changing the amount of roux. Have a little extra stock on hand to thin if need be, and not a lot can go wrong. And don’t even get me started on how great this is for using up leftover vegetables.

As I mentioned in the video, I’ll normally make this kind of thing the day after roasting a big chicken. You can eat some, and save the rest of the meat and bones for this. Or, you can just roast two chickens. They refer to that as “have your chicken and eat it too.” I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for two large, or four small portions:
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
2 large shallots, minced
1 cup diced sweet bell peppers
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, depending on how thick you want it
1/4 cup dry sherry (there is no substitute, except maybe a little splash of a mild, sweeter vinegar)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Italian parsley
1/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
4 cups cubed roasted chicken
fresh chives to garnish

Friday, September 9, 2016

“Naked” Cherry Tomato Salad – Sans Skin for the Win

I’ve wanted to show this “naked” cherry tomato technique for a while now, and after having something very similar at a Japanese restaurant recently, I decided the time was right. The tomatoes this time of year in Northern California are spectacularly sweet, and there is literally no better way to enjoy them, and that includes eaten raw.

You really don’t have any idea how tough a cherry tomato skin really is, until it’s not there anymore. With this we get that same sweet/tart explosion of juicy flavor, as the fruit pops in your mouth, but with no skin to distract us. We’re talking pure tomato pleasure.

I used sherry vinegar, since my tomatoes were like candy, but if yours are less stellar, you may want to go with a sweeter vinegar, like rice or balsamic. By the way, I usually go with basil for this, but the shiso they used at the restaurant worked so perfectly, that I decided to go with mint, which has a similar fragrance and sweetness.

I realize that peeling cherry tomatoes may seem tedious, or even ridiculous, and I’m sure there was a time when I felt the exactly same way; but then you try these, and it all makes complete sense. I really hope you give these naked cherry tomatoes a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 "Amuse Bouche" sized portions:
24 perfect cherry tomatoes (3 per portion, plus extra for “quality control”)
a little fresh mint, basil, or shiso
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
course sea salt to finish, optional

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Parmelet – Turning the Late-Night Omelet Inside Out

Like most late night, post-saloon culinary experiments, I wasn’t expecting too much as I attempted this crispy, inside-out parmesan omelet, so I was fairly thrilled with how it turned out. The caramelized cheese had formed a thin, but protective layer, and since the eggs had never directly touched the pan, they were moist and tender. It might have been the cocktails talking, but I started to think I had stumbled on to some sort of omelet hack, which improves both the texture of the surface, and diminishes the chance of dry, bitter, overcooked eggs. 

I also tried this with cheddar, and it works pretty much the same. There is one catch, in that you need a nonstick pan for this to work, but other than that, not much can go wrong, and so much can go right. Like what to stuff in the middle. As long as you heat it first, a reasonable amount of any classic omelet filling would shine.

This will also work whether you use one or three eggs, depending on the texture you’re going for. Using a single egg is kind of a cool trick, since the cheese layer is almost as thick, and you can really appreciate the crispness even more. I hope you give this great new omelet technique a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one Parmelet:
8-inch non-stick pan
1 teaspoon olive oil
25 grams (just shy of 1-ounce) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1,2, or 3 large eggs, beaten
1/8 teaspoon water per egg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fresh Berry Fool – It Would be a Pity Not to Make This for Labor Day

There are like a thousand approved ways to combine sweet cream and fresh fruit, but this gorgeous fool may be my favorite. Of course, the easy-to-joke-about name helps, but what I really love is how surprisingly light this is. It's also very easy, which seems totally appropriate for a possible Labor Day dessert.

While certainly not light on the calorie counter, this stuff is shockingly airy on the palate. It’s that contrast between the rich, fluffy cream, and the syrupy, tangy fruit, which makes this so much greater than the sum of its parts. Fresh berries are a classic, but this would work with peeled, diced, ripe peaches.

By the way, contrary to what you heard in the introduction, this isn’t called a “fool” because it’s so ridiculously simple to make. Apparently, it comes from the French word, "fouler," which means "to mash." I guess we’ll let you decide which story to go with. I think you know which one I prefer. Either way, I really do hope you get this fool a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for four large portions:
3 cups fresh berries (raspberries, broken blackberries, quartered strawberries)
1/4 to 1/3 cup white sugar (more sugar you use the more syrup you get)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup crème fraiche (yogurt or sour cream maybe subbed - *if using yogurt or sour cream, stir into the cream once it’s almost fully whipped)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup crumbled butter shortbread cookies, or vanilla wafers