Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Again?

When Food Wishes was first getting started, and funds were scarce, I did some freelance video production for various outlets, and apparently lemon ricotta pancakes was one such recipe. I know this because I got a request for ricotta pancakes recently, and when I tried to refer them to the blog link, I realized there wasn’t one.

I’m looking at you, About.com. Anyway, as it turns out, this is a new and possibly improved recipe, featuring…water? Yes, I tried this recipe once, with water instead of milk, and I actually liked it more. Or I thought I did, which is really all that matters.

Most lemon ricotta pancake recipes call for the eggs to be separated, and the whites whipped to give the pancakes more “lift.” Feel free, but if these pancakes were any lighter, they’d float off the plate. Speaking of lightness, I prefer using self-rising flour for this, but if you can’t, I’ve explained below how to make your own. Either way, I really do hope you give these delicious lemon ricotta pancakes a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes 2 large or 4 small portions:
3/4 cold water, or milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest (just the yellow part of the skin)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons *self-rising flour, or as needed to achieve very thick batter

* To make your own self-rising flour (2 cups worth): Sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, with 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chef John is Taking a Break!

Just wanted to let everyone know I’ll be on vacation this week. I'd call it a "Spring Break," except that makes it sound like I'm going to be chugging beer through a funnel, half-naked, while listening to Flo Rida, which is not accurate. 

I'll actually be sipping beer, half-naked, while listening to Flo Rida. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a the break, and suggest you use the time to catch up on videos you’ve missed. We have so, so many. Thank you, and we’ll see you next week!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Grilled Greek Chicken – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Erin go what? On the surface, this may seem like an inappropriate St. Patrick’s Day recipe post, but I’ve always considered this holiday one of the official signs of spring, and since that means it’s grilling season, then maybe this is appropriate after all? Yes, I went a long way for that.

As I mentioned in the video, the secret to this simple chicken is a very powerful marinade. This is one of those rare recipes where, when in doubt, we add a little more. Above and beyond that, the only way to ruin this would be to singe the skin/marinade with too high, direct heat.

We really want to sort of roast these pieces on the grill. So, don’t build a huge fire, and wait for it to turn ashy, before using semi-indirect heat to slowly cook the meat through. This way we get a tender inside, as well as and a gorgeous, caramelized exterior.

This is so flavorful that you really don’t need a sauce, but some fresh lemon is nice, as is a spicy yogurt. Just squeeze a little lemon into some nice thick, Greek yogurt, spike it with hot sauce, and you have a perfect condiment. And speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, this stuff pairs wonderfully with beer. I really hope you give this grilled Greek chicken recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

For enough marinade for 6 chicken thigh/leg sections:
6 to 8 cloves garlic, totally crushed or very finely minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano and/or marjoram
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 generous teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1/4 olive oil
about 1 tablespoon kosher salt to season chicken

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eggplant “Bacon” – Because Fake Bacon is Better than Real Eggplant

I love that my wife, Michele, follows Questlove on social media, but not just because it makes me feel cooler by extension, which it does, but also because he’s a huge foodie, and this enticing eggplant “bacon” came from his Instagram.

Links were followed, and I discovered the recipe was from Minimalist Baker, and although I did tweak the technique and ingredient amounts a bit, the recipe is basically thieved from this gorgeous blog post. Thank you, Dana! By the way, there they were brushed, but I decided to dip. Because my slices may have been wetter, they did take way longer to cook.

Personal taste being what it is, you’ll have to experiment with not only your sweet-salty-smoky ingredient ratios, but also with how thick you cut your eggplant, as well as how long you cook it. I went for thin and crispy, but it was closer to a bbq potato chip in taste/texture than bacon. I may slice it thicker next time, and see if I can get some chewy bits, woven through the crispy bits.

These would make for some tasty vegetable chips, but were especially enjoyable in a BLT, which I inexplicably didn’t photo. I blame low blood sugar. Regardless of how you enjoy them, I really do hope you give this eggplant “bacon” a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes enough “bacon brine” for 2 medium-sized eggplants:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons tamari, or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, depending on strength
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, a little coarser than usual
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggplants, sliced to about 1/8th inch

The original recipe calls for a 225 F. oven, but I would probably start this like I finished it, and that’s in a 250 F. oven. I’d plan on at least an hour baking time, but that will depend on thickness, pans, etc. Simply cook until they are how you want.

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Norcal" Nicoise Salad – Layered for Your Pleasure

I know I’ve made fun of salads served in Mason jars before, but when I was asked to contribute a layered Nicoise to an Allrecipes Easter feature, I immediately thought of this tragically hip presentation. Also, I didn’t have a straight-sided, see-through glass bowl to do the layered salad in.

I love a good Nicoise, and it’s perfect for layering, especially if you slice/chop up the ingredients first. Not only will your layers be easier to keep straight, but chopped salads are always a pleasure to toss with dressing. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed this avocado spiked French-style vinaigrette, and it paired perfectly with the rich, fatty, olive oil-packed tuna. 

Look for something from Spain or Italy, and you will be impressed with how much nicer it is than the stuff Charlie and his buddies are pushing. So, whether you composed this on a plate, in the classic fashion, or follow my lead, and create the world’s trendiest Nicoise, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Nicoise (amounts are up to you)
3-4 ounces per person olive-oil packed tuna
tender green beans
Yukon gold potatoes
cherry tomatoes
hard boiled eggs
Nicoise olives, or other pitted olives
parsley and/or chives
anchovy fillets, optional

Ingredients for the dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 anchovy fillets
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup ripe avocado
1/3 cup olive oil, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
water as needed to adjust texture
salt to taste

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Irish Cheddar Spring Onion Biscuits - They Only Sound Irish

I’ve received many food wishes for cheddar biscuits over the years, which I used to think was odd, until I learned about a certain version served in America’s most famous chain of lobster restaurants. I eventually got to try this casual dining delicacy, and while it really wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t great either, and I pledged to take the idea, and create a new and improved cheddar biscuit. That was like five years ago.

So, why all of a sudden the newfound interest? Two simple reasons. First, I had some gorgeous Irish cheddar in the fridge. Secondly, it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and the search engines demand something Irish, or at least something that sounds Irish. So, I combined those two facts, and decided it was time to make cheddar biscuits that would rival those at the aforementioned crustacean sensation. I know, a very high bar.

All kidding aside, these really did come out quite well, and I think that’s because we didn’t just mix the cheese into the dough. By layering and folding the cheese in, a la puff pastry, we get all the cheesy flavor, without making the biscuit too dense. Sure takes a few extra minutes, but I thought it was worth the effort. So, whether you’re going to make these for St. Patrick’s Day, or not, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Irish Cheddar Spring Onion Biscuits:
*2 cups self-rising flour, plus more if needed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons very cold butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded Irish cheddar, or other sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions (I used mostly the tender, light green parts)
-Bake at 400 F. for about 20 minutes

* To make your own self-rising flour for this recipe, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Baked Cauliflower Fries – How Not to Make Baked Cauliflower Fries

I won’t add insult to injury writing a long blog post about how disappointing this recipe was. The video pretty much says it all. And while I can’t honestly say I hope you try this yourself, a small part of me secretly hopes you do.

Not that I want you to experience the misery that was this recipe, but rather because maybe you’ll think of a way to actually pull this off. The taste was fine. Maybe even better than fine, but the texture was a huge letdown. You can’t win them all. Enjoy?

Ingredients for about 24 crappy cauliflower “fries:”
2 head cauliflower (about 5 pounds total), cut into florets
1 tablespoon kosher salt
- You should end up with about 3 1/2 cups of cooked, squeezed-dry cauliflower
To the cauliflower add…
2 large eggs
4 ounce (about 1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
1 ounce (1/4 cup packed) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 cloves peeled garlic, crushed fine
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
more cheese to dust top