Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Next Up: Chicken Nuggets!

Due to loud, non-rhythmic pounding from a construction project next door, today's video, featuring a Super Bowl party-inspired chicken nugget, will be delayed until later this evening, or tomorrow morning. I hope/predict it will be worth the wait. Stay tuned! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Sloppy Dip – G.I. Joe (Generally Inspired-By)

Don’t let the catchy name fool you; this sloppy Joe-inspired dip really shouldn’t cause that big a mess at your Super Bowl party, just as long as your guests aren’t too sloppy themselves. You can test them by having them pronounce, “sloppy dip.” If they say it more like, “shloppy dip,” cut them off.

For me this checks all the boxes for a hot party dip. It’s relatively cheap, and easy to make, but maybe more importantly, it’s great hot, warm, or room temp. It’s also incredibly versatile, and I can think of about two-dozen things off the top of my head that would be great in this.

Like I said in the video, you don’t have to present this as a baked dip. You can just leave it on the stove, on low, for guests to dip into. People are always hanging out in that area anyway. Otherwise, you can broil it in any oven-safe casserole dish, or do it in a sauce pan like I did, which can also be kept on low heat after browning the cheese. No matter how you serve it, I hope you give this great, and sloppy dip a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes 12 portions of Sloppy Dip:  
2 pound extra lean ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 diced green bell pepper (1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
cayenne to taste
1 cup ketchup
2 cups chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Spanish Farro – An Ancient Recipe for an Ancient Grain

Spanish rice was one of the first recipes I made for my parents after returning home from my first semester at culinary school. Ironically, I didn’t learn the recipe in class, but rather at a Mexican restaurant I worked at part-time.

I don’t remember much from that job, or decade, but I’ll never forget how that rice was put together, and that’s exactly how we’re doing it here – except for one minor detail. We’re not using rice.  

I really love farro, and have used it in various rice preparations, always with great results. This was no exception, and maybe my favorite so far. This larger, meatier, “ancient” grain pairs perfect with the spices, and I find it even easier to cook perfectly than rice.

If you don’t have a pan like the one used in the video, simply prepare everything in a skillet. Once your broth starts to boil, transfer it into a 2-quart casserole dish, wrap with foil, and proceed as directed. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!  

Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder, or other dried, ground chili
1 teaspoon chipotle
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup “pearled” farro, rinsed, drained well
2 cups chicken broth

- Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes, or until farro is just tender

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Cuban Sandwich – Hold the Mojo

I don’t do a lot of sandwich videos, which is a shame, since the blog posts are pretty easy to write. Anyway, as promised during the last bread video, here’s how I like to build a Cuban, or Cubano sandwich.

From the early, non-troll feedback, I hear we did a pretty good job, except apparently I was supposed to serve some mojo sauce as a condiment. We did a beef mojo, which would not be great in this, but I don’t think we’ve ever filmed the sauce. Consider it on the list.

Slices of citrus-roasted pork seem to be very common in the sandwich, but I prefer more of a pulled pork. I used our paper pork recipe, which was great, but carnitas, generously moistened with some of its own fat, would also work quite well. 

I've always assumed that day-old bread was perfect for grilled sandwiches, but I've heard that real Cubans are made on fresh bread, and that people who use stale are crazy. What say you? Regardless of how fresh your bread is, I really hope you give this Cuban sandwich a try soon. Enjoy!

There are no amounts given, since you are the Mark of your Cuban, and fully capable of deciding how much “stuff” to use. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cuban Bread – Commence Operation Cubano Sandwich

I didn’t think I liked Cuban sandwiches, and even went so far as to publicly call them overrated, but it turns out I was eating them on the wrong bread. 

You can’t just use any old sandwich roll, and this fact was lost on me until I had one on the real deal. Shortly after finishing, I recanted every negative comment I’d previously made.

By the way, if you’ve never heard of a Cuban sandwich, stay tuned, because that will be the star of our next video. If you want to get a head start, besides practicing the bread, you’ll need some type of roasted, or pulled pork; and I’m happy to report we have many recipes that would work, including our famous paper pork, pulled pork, or carnitas.

One thing that makes this bread unique, besides the addition of lard, is the double-hit of yeast. We use dry yeast to start the dough, as usual, but also add a starter that we let ferment overnight. I assume that’s to provide a little extra flavor, as well as a some additional lift, but I didn’t want to do too much research, since I do enjoy a little mystery with these types of things.

Traditionally, some of the starter is saved, with a little fresh water and flour added, and kept in the fridge to make more bread. Not a bad idea, otherwise you can probably just add all of it to the dough. You’ll probably need a bit more flour, but as I stressed in the video, we’re going to be feeling for that anyway. So, stay tuned for the Cubano sandwich video, and in the meantime, I really hope you give this bread a try soon. Enjoy!

For the starter:
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
- mix well and refrigerate overnight

For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
- mix and let stand 15 minutes
- add starter from day before (reserve 1/4 cup if you want to keep your starter going), plus:
3 tablespoons lard
2 teaspoons fine salt
about 3 cups flour, or as needed (I used 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
and 1 1/2 cups bread flour)
water to spray tops of loaves

Monday, January 16, 2017

Next Up: A Very Special Bread

Another long, holiday weekend has come and gone; and so another Tuesday video won't be posted until Wednesday. Hopefully it will be worth the brief wait. Stay tuned! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pâté de Campagne – Finally, Something Complicated

Every once in a while, I get a food wish that has nothing to do with a specific recipe, but rather it’s a request to post something complicated, and challenging to do. Well, this country-style pâté is about as close as we’re going to get.

Calling this recipe complicated is sort of a stretch; "involved” would probably be more accurate. There are many steps, and the ingredient list isn’t short, but none of the techniques are very difficult, or particularly time-consuming.

Coarsely grinding the meat is probably the most crucial step, but as you saw, if the meat is very cold, the attachment on your stand mixer will do an adequate job. If you don’t have one, you can pulse on and off in a food processor, and as long as your meat was partially frozen, this will work.

Another option is just to place your meat order with a real butcher, and ask them to coarsely grind it all together for you, after which you can simply process the rest of your ingredients, and add them to your already ground meat and fat. Speaking of fat, I used some chopped up bacon, but virtually any kind of pork fat will work. 

If you do use bacon, either in the pâté, or to wrap with, I suggest using one that’s lightly smoked, so as not to overpower the rest of the flavors. Anyway, I realize this may seem like quite a production, but if you enjoy charcuterie, this would make for a very fun, beautiful, and quite delicious project. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one Pâté de Campagne (16 portions):
1 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (aka “pork butt”), cut into one-inch cubes
6 ounces duck leg meat (meat removed from 2 or 3 legs)
4 ounces fatty bacon, chopped
4 ounces chicken livers, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
25 grams kosher salt (about 5 teaspoons)
1/8 teaspoon “instacure” pink curing salt
3/4 teaspoon *pate spice mix
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cognac or brandy
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dried cherries, optional
1/2 cup pistachios, optional
8-10 sliced of bacon, or a few sheets of caul fat to line the **mold

* For the Pâté Spice:
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

** My bread pan was a little smaller than standard, but a regular 9 x 5 inch loaf pan should work perfectly here.

-- Cook in water bath at 350 F. until internal temp of 155 F. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Broccoli Soup au Gratin – Thin to Win!

It was one of those weeks. The holiday pushed me off schedule by a day; they’re doing construction next door, which means I can’t record at certain times; and if that wasn’t enough, this amazing looking soup was a total disaster – a temporary disaster – but a disaster nonetheless.

The good news is, I saved it in the end, and hopefully we’ll all be better for it. Turns out a cheesy crouton, like one you’d enjoy on a French onion soup, is a terrible idea, if your soup is extra thick, and bordering on a purée.

I came close to tossing everything, and ordering pizza, but what kind of example would that set? So I thinned it out, passed it through a fire mesh strainer, and gave it another try. This made it significantly better, and the ingredient amounts seen below have been adjusted, so you should get a texture similar to my final version.

I’m not sure when/if I’ll try this again, but if I do, I’ll use small croutons, so I can eat it without drenching all the cheesy bread with the first few bites. While I officially hope you give this a try soon, I secretly hope you experiment with better soup choices to use this potentially great technique. Enjoy!  

Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus probably more to taste
3 cloves minced garlic
2 pounds broccoli, trimmed
5 to 6 cups broth, or as needed to adjust texture
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
6 round crispy croutons the same size as your crock (or 3 cups of little salad croutons)
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar, gruyere, or combination of the two
*Note: Be sure to adjust with more broth if need be, as well as pass the soup through a fine mesh strainer to achieve a finer texture.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Next Up: Something with Broccoli

As you may have noticed, due to the holiday on Monday, Tuesday's video was published on Wednesday, which means that Friday's video will post on Saturday. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Coconut Cream French Toast – It Only Sounds Like Pie

I try not to do recipe names that sound way better than they taste, but I went with coconut cream French toast anyway. I didn’t think “coconut French toast” did this justice, and while certainly not pie-like, the flavor profile was kind of close, and I was very pleased with the results.

I was debating whether to coat the soaked bread with raw coconut, and toast it while the slices were frying in the butter, but decided it would be smarter to do it separately. That way we get perfect golden-brown flakes, without having to risk it getting too dark in the pan.

By the way, I can’ t stress how important it is to not use fresh bread. The drier the bread, the better the French toast, since you’ll be absorbing the maximum amount of our creamy coconut batter. So, the next time you have half a loaf of bread leftover from a dinner, slice it up, and leave it out overnight to dry.

If you want to cheat, you can lightly toast fresh bread beforehand, which, after cooling, will sort of simulate stale bread. Either way, I really hope you give this coconut cream French toast recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for two portions of 3 half-slices of bread:
3 thick slices very stale French or Italian bread (cut in half to make 6 pieces)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup coconut milk (do not use low-fat)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons butter for frying
2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes
maple syrup, fresh mango, and lime to garnish