Friday, December 7, 2018

Chocolate Yule Log – This Bûche de Noël Only Looks Difficult

If you’ve never made a Yule Log because you thought it would take a lot of time and effort, then you probably made the right decision, since it does. But, if you haven’t tried this classic holiday dessert because you thought it required advanced baking and pastry skill, then get ready to bûche, since the techniques required are actually quite simple.

This classic holiday dessert is a showstopper, but it’s often better looking, than it is tasting, which is not the case with here, thanks to a simple-to-make, rich chocolate sponge cake, and mocha buttercream filling. Having said that, if you have a favorite frosting or filling, literally anything you can spread will work here. As long as you can slice it later, pretty much anything goes.

I forgot to add the vanilla extract, and I’ve made that correction in the ingredients below, but above and beyond what you add to the batter, you can also drizzle the baked sponge with many delicious, possibly adult beverages. Coffee liqueur is a great choice, as is dark rum, Kirsch, and Framboise, just to name a few. This practice probably started to cover up dry, overcooked cake, which of course would never be a problem for us, but even a perfectly cooked sponge can benefit if you’re so inclined.

As far as the decorations go, just a dusted and frosted Yule log makes for a great presentation, but half the fun is creating a scene around your log, and an image search should give you plenty of ideas. I may try to sneak in a video for how to do the meringue mushrooms, but not sure exactly when. Regardless of how you decorate it, or what you flavor it with, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one Chocolate Yule Log (8 portions):
NOTE: This was for a 13 X 18" sheet pan)
2 tablespoons melted butter for greasing pan
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large room temperature eggs (do not use cold eggs)
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Bake at 400 F. for 8 to 10 minutes

For the filling:
NOTE: I though mine had too much buttercream, so I'd probably use 2/3 rd for this and save the rest for cupcakes)
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup room temp butter
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons coffee liquor, and or any other flavoring or extract, or a splash of milk to achieve a light, fluffy buttercream
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

Ganache frosting:
1 cup hot heavy cream
8 ounces dark chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
-->

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Kimchi Pancakes – Come for the Savory Pancake, Stay for the Dancing Fish Flakes

I remember getting a request for kimchi pancakes many years ago, and while I recall being intrigued, apparently not enough to actually research the recipe, and do a video for it. That all changed after seeing it on a local bar menu, where Michele and I enjoyed not one, but two orders of these incredibly tasty, and visually thrilling, savory pancakes.

I loved the taste and texture, but what really got my attention were the dancing bonito flakes on top. I’d never seen anything quite like that, and found it as mesmerizing, as I did delicious. As I mentioned in the video, those kimchi pancakes came with a little drizzle of spicy mayonnaise, which depending on how decadent of an experience you’re going for, isn’t a bad idea, especially if you plan on frying these up, and cutting them in wedges to serve as a snack at a party.

If you want a thicker, and more substantial kimchi pancake, you want to use less liquid, or more flour, so that your batter isn't quite as runny as mine. Personally, I enjoy this style a little more, since you end up with a thinner pancake that’s crispy around the edges, but still moist and tender inside. Having said that, you should definitely experiment with different textures to see what you like best.

These are also a perfect catchall for leftover meat and vegetables. Just chop it up, toss it in, and see what happens. Speaking of seeing what happens, if you want to watch fish flakes dance, you’ll have to find some bonito, which means finding an Asian market, or buying them online, and I highly recommend you do just that. Either way, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Appetizer Size Kimchi Pancakes:
1 1/2 cup chopped drained kimchi (12 ounce jar)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons kimchi juice
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
about 3/4 cup all purpose flour, or as needed
4 tablespoons bonito flakes for the top, optional
-->

Friday, November 30, 2018

Mini Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls – No Wings Were Harmed in the Making of This Snack

These mini buffalo chicken egg rolls remind me of the time I ordered something called “boneless Buffalo wings,” many years ago. Like all Western New Yorkers, I have a deep affection for this messy, but delicious snack, and so I was very excited about being able to enjoy some without having to deal with the wing bones.

As I waited for my order, I felt sorry for whichever prep cook had been given the tedious task of de-boning them. However, my sympathy was unwarranted, since what they were calling “boneless buffalo wings” were nothing more than strips of fried chicken breast, coated in the same sauce. While happy for the prep cook, I was disappointed they weren’t wings.

So, it’s a little bit ironic that all these years later, I'm now using chicken breast to create a Buffalo wing alternative, but at least I’m not trying to trick anybody. That aside, these really do have a very similar flavor profile, and I should probably be more concerned with the people who are going to be upset I’m calling these egg rolls.

What’s not going to upset anybody is just how great a party snack these really do make, and not just because they’re delicious. Even sober people make a mess eating actual buffalo chicken wings, but that’s not going to be an issue here, thanks to their very user-friendly design. So, if you’re planning a party soon, I really do hope you give these a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 14 to 16 Mini Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls:
8 ounces diced cooked chicken breast
1/3 cup diced celery
2 ounces blue cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
14 to 16 square wonton wrappers
more Louisiana hot sauce for dipping
-->

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lemon Gingersnap Posset – A Lemon Pudding to Die For

This lemon posset seems too good to be true. Not only does it feature a rich, thick, luxurious texture, and intense, clean citrus taste, but it’s also egg-free, starch-free, and gelatin-free. As if that wasn’t enough, it only takes three ingredients, and could not be easier to make. Notwithstanding its calorie count, this may be the perfect special occasion dessert.

Like I said in the video, I used lemon since my posset was being paired with gingersnap crumbs, but the first time I ever had this it was done with lime and graham cracker crumbs, and was equally stellar. Next time I think I’ll try it with both, since once you experience this magical mixture, there’s always going to be a next time.  

This reminds me a lot of lemon curd, especially with how perfectly it pairs with fresh seasonal fruit, but the lemon flavor is even more intense, despite actually using less juice. It’s also significantly faster and easier to make. So yes, this does seem too good to be true, and yet somehow it is, which is why I really do hope you give this lemon posset a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 4 Portions of Lemon Gingersnap Posset:
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup white sugar
1 generous tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup crushed gingersnaps, or other crunchy cookie
4 or 5 teaspoons melted butter, or enough to moisten crumbs
whipped cream and seasonal fruit to garnish
-->

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Leftover Turkey Tamale Pie – Sorry, Pumpkin, There’s a New Thanksgiving Pie in Town

Even if your turkey is perfectly cooked, the reheated leftovers can be a little dry and uninteresting, especially since the gravy always runs out before all the meat is gone. 

That’s why soup is such a popular choice for using up the last remnants of your bird, but this tamale pie will serve the same purpose, only in a significantly more exciting, and flavorful way.

There are two basic types of tamale pie. One features a cornbread topping, which is like eating chili with cornbread, and the other a traditional masa dough, which is like eating chili with polenta on it. Here, I wanted to create something that gives us the best of both, and I was very happy with how this came out.

While I’m branding this as a post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey recipe, it’s really a “how to make tamale pie” video, since you can sub in virtually any other meat and/or vegetable, and it should work just as well. In fact, I’m actually thinking of doing a version using cubed butternut squash as a turkey-adjacent side dish. Regardless of what you use, I really do hope you give this easy and delicious tamale pie a try soon. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients for 6 Portions Turkey Tamale Pie:
(I used a 9" X 12" baking dish)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1 red bell, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 can (7-oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3 to 4 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 packed cup)
1 jar (15.5-oz) red enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cup self-rising flour*
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese for the top

- Bake at 375 F. for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

* If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can use 3/4 cup all-purpose flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt.
-->

Friday, November 9, 2018

Loaded Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes – A Savory Delete of the Sometimes Too Sweet

They say your greatest strength is also your biggest weakness, which certainly is true when it comes to sweet potatoes.  The starchy sweetness that makes this tuber such a popular holiday side dish, is also its fatal flaw, since, for me at least, it quickly leads to palate fatigue. After a few bites of mashed sweet potatoes, or sweet potato casserole, I’m pretty much over the experience, and I’m reaching for the cranberry sauce to reset my tongue, but here we’ve mixed in a few ingredients specifically selected to cut that sweetness, and push this much closer to the savory side of town.

Lime, jalapeño, and sharp cheddar may seem like odd choices here, but paired with the green onions, and bacon, they work wonders, and I had no problem finishing a whole sweet potato. And by whole, I mean two. By the way, these orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are often sold as “yams,” but they’re not, in case that ever comes up in conversation.

Besides all the obvious reasons, this is a great choice for your Thanksgiving table, since you can prep it ahead of time, and then bake them when you’re ready to serve.  They will also stay hot for quite a while, which is another reason they’re nice around the holidays, when oven space can be limited. So, whether you make these for a special occasion, or some completely un-special weeknight meal, I really do hope you get give these loaded, twice-baked sweet potatoes a try soon. Enjoy


Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
8 ounces bacon, sliced
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup diced jalapeno
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese, plus a little bit for the top
2 tablespoons crème fraiche, or sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
-->

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Spicy Salami Spread (Nduja) – Almost Instant Soft Serve Salami

I’m not saying this spicy salami spread is as good as traditional nduja, but I am saying this takes about 3 months less time to make, and still delivers most of the characteristics that make this Calabrian delicacy so amazing. And just in case you’re not familiar with nduja, a few of those characteristics are a rich, spicy, super-savory flavor, and soft, luxurious texture.

Finding some decent salami to use should be simple enough, but depending on where you live, the oil-packed Calabrian chilies may not be as easy to acquire. Any decent Italian market will carry them, so ask your Calabrian friends where they shop, but if that doesn’t work, you can find them online as well. Or, you could use another spicy, jarred pepper product like Sambal, or simply use fresh hot chilies like Fresno, or cherry peppers. If it’s spicy, and it’s a pepper, it will work.

You can substitute bacon for the pancetta, but since bacon is smoked, your final product will taste significantly different. Not bad, just different. In any event, the wonderful ways you can use this are extensive. I gave a few ideas in the video, but other highly recommended uses include adding it to pasta sauces, salad dressings, ravioli fillings, and even as a pizza topping.

Having said that, this stuff is so unique, and delicious, your guests might not leave you with much to experiment with, which is fine, since this is so fast and easy to produce. So, with peak entertaining season right in front of us, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 2 cups Spicy Salami Spread (Nduja):
4 ounces sliced or diced pancetta, cooked, fat reserved
1/3 cup seeded hot Calabrian peppers
3 tablespoons Calabrian pepper oil from the jar
12 ounces sliced salami
1/4 cup room temp butter
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed to adjust the texture to your liking
-->

Friday, November 2, 2018

Portuguese Custard Tarts – The Hieronymites Got This Right

I’ve made custard tarts before, but never the world-famous Portuguese custard tarts, and I’m thrilled to report the results were shockingly good. This really was one of the best pastries I’ve ever enjoyed, custard or otherwise. 

Which is a good thing, since they do require a bit of effort to produce. The recipe itself is simple, using just a few basic ingredients, but there are numerous steps, and a certain amount of finesse is required, but the results are so worth it. After watching a few dozen videos on the technique, I decided to try the short cut version first, which uses frozen store-bought puff pastry. The results were not good. Since puff pastry is leavened with yeast, and contains so many more layers of butter and dough, my crust turned out too thick, and gummy, and wasn’t nearly as thin and crispy as it should’ve been. It may have been my technique, but officially I’m blaming the dough.

So then I attempted an “authentic” dough recipe from scratch, which was infinitely better. It’s a little tricky to work with, since the dough is very sticky, but I think that’s one of the keys here. Seems like the extra moisture in the dough, which is activated by the very hot oven, is what creates the signature flaky, crispy texture.

As far as the custard goes, it’s a relatively simple procedure, and we even streamlined one of the steps. You’ll have to decide whether you’re going to include lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla, which are apparently considered optional ingredients in Portugal, but I really enjoy the flavor, and wouldn’t change a thing. Regardless of what you decide to add, or not add to yours, like I said in the video, these should be on everyone’s baking bucket list. So, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


For the dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup cold water
Note: adjust with more flour or water to achieve what’s shown in the video
1 stick (4 ounces) very soft, high-quality unsalted butter

For the sugar syrup:
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
zest from 1 lemon

For the custard base:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Bake tarts at 550 F. for 12 minutes or until the pastry is browned and bubbly, and the tops start to blister and caramelize.
-->

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Crispy Garlic Breadcrumb Chicken – No Fry, Not Dry, Must Try

Trying to convert a fried recipe into a baked one is usually a disappointing exercise in futility, but this crispy garlic breadcrumb chicken turned out to be a very enjoyable exception. 

While not exactly the same as a pan-fried, breaded cutlet, if you want to eat tender, flavorful chicken with lots of crispy, crunchy bits, then this significantly less-messy method is for you.

One of the keys to this technique is to use panko breadcrumbs, which are much larger, and more jagged than regular, fine breadcrumbs. If you can’t find them, you can easily make you own. Just pulse chunks of stale white bread in a food processor until coarsely ground, and then spread out on a baking sheet, and place in a 275 F. oven until they are dried and crispy.

Above and beyond being easier, this method also allows us to introduce some additional flavor, and moisture, thanks to the “glue” we use to attach the crumbs. I went very simple with my formula, but as I mention in the video, you can add all sorts of herbs and spices to yours. Either way, the next time you want crispy, breaded chicken with less mess, and more flavor, I really do hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8-10 ounces each)
salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil for searing
1/4 cup chicken broth for the pan

For the garlic breadcrumbs:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 finely crushed or minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For the “glue:”
1 tablespoon mayo
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the optional pan sauce:
1/3 cup chicken broth
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
-->

Friday, October 26, 2018

Pig in a Pumpkin – Trick and Treat

Okay, so we’re not using a whole pig, but we are using a whole pumpkin, which not only produced some very succulent, flavorful pork, but also made for an absolutely stunning presentation. This looked so good, that many people might think it was faked, which really is the ultimate compliment.

While this would work in any pumpkin, try to find ones sold as “sugar,” or “pie” pumpkins,” since they have a thicker, sweeter flesh, compared to the ornamental ones sold for jack-o'-lantering. I believe the variety I used was called “cannonball,” but simply look for round, heavy-feeling varieties about the size of a volleyball, displayed in the produce department, and not outside, or in front of the store.

As I said in the video, you can season this anyway you want, but regardless of what exactly goes in your gourd, make sure you roast it until the meat is tender. How long will depend on the size of course, so be sure to test the meat as it cooks. The only thing I’d do differently next time, would be to pour in a little more cider after a few hours in the oven, since a lot of it evaporated as it roasted, and I wanted more “sauce” when I was done.

After you remove the meat for service, ladle out all the braising liquid, and let it sit for a few minutes, so you can skim off most of the fat. Thanks to the little bit of flour on the pork, it should have a nice thickness, but you can always adjust that with some more roux. Or, simply make a sauce separately, and then just spike it with your drippings.

Also, if you wanted to add another step, you could use a blender to make a smoother sauce, but I’ll leave that up to you. Either way, if you’re looking for a fun, and very seasonably appropriate way to cook some pork shoulder, I couldn’t think of a better, or more beautiful way, which is why I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one Pig in a Pumpkin:
1 volleyball-sized cooking pumpkin
3 1/2 to 4 pounds of boneless pork shoulder
1 rounded tablespoon kosher salt (the pumpkin will absorb some of this)
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
- garlic and sage would have also been great here
2 tablespoons flour to coat pork
1 tablespoon olive oil for browning meat
at least 2 cups hard cider, or more if you can fit it in before or during cooking

- I roasted mine at 350 F. for about 4 hours
-->

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Sweet Potato Soufflés – Even Easier Than Easy

Soufflés have always had the reputation for being a difficult, and temperamental thing to make, which I’ve never really understood. As long as you can manage to whip some egg whites, and fold them into your batter without knocking all the air out, there’s really not much that can go wrong. 

And that’s with the traditional method, which requires making a saucy base first. These soufflés are even easier than that, since mashed sweet potato is the base. I like to microwave my sweet potatoes, mostly because it’s faster, but you can certainly roast them in a 375 F. oven instead. Just prick them as shown, and bake for as long as it takes to get them very soft. I’d love to give you a time, but that depends on the size.

I kept these very plain, so as not to distract you, but you can add all sorts of things. Cheese, bacon, and herbs, just to name a few. And that’s for savory applications, since these will also shine as a dessert. Just add some maple syrup or brown sugar to the mashed potatoes, to taste, along with appropriate spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, and you'll be in for quite the seasonal treat. But, no matter how you flavor these, or which course you serve them, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 to 6 Sweet Potato Soufflés:
2 teaspoon room temp butter to grease ramekins (mine were 5 oz. size)
4 large room temperature eggs, separated
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup milk                                                 
crispy fried sage leaves to garnish, optional

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Green Chile Pesto and Roasted Chayote Squash Side Dish – Thanks, Rick!

If you’re going to steal one Rick Bayless recipe, you might as well steal two, which is exactly what I did here with this green chile pesto, and roasted chayote squash side dish. Like I said in the video, most great chefs encourage this type of thievery, as long as you give them credit, which I’m happy to do.

What I’m calling “Green Chile Pesto,” is really his Green Chile Adobo, but I thought my audience would better relate to a “pesto,” since that’s what this reminds me of the most. Although, I’m not sure how it would be in a pasta, and don’t have any immediate plans to find out.

What it was great in, was this very simple chayote squash dish, which is really more of a warm salad. If you can find chayote near you, I recommend you give it a try, but if not, grilled zucchini or other summer squash would also work, as would something like roasted acorn or delicata squash.

I’d try to choose a fairly mild olive oil for this, since we have enough heat and bitterness from the peppers. Which reminds me, don’t over blend this. While some chefs claim it’s just a wives tale, I’ve found that if you over-process an olive oil-based sauce, especially ones with garlic in them, it can get very bitter. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and so on behalf of Chef Bayless and myself, I’d like to say, we really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for the Green Chile Pesto:
6 Serrano peppers
1 Poblano pepper
6 cloves garlic, still in the paper
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 bunch Italian parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or about 3/4 teaspoon fine salt)
3/4 cup mild tasting olive oil, or vegetable oil
juice from 2 fresh limes*

* You can add the lime right to the pesto if you’re going to use it all at once as a sauce for something, but this seems to keep longer in the fridge without it added in, and so I prefer to add it to whatever I’m using it with instead.

For the Chayote Squash Side Dish:
3 Chayote squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
juice from 1 lime (unless already added to your pesto)
2 or 3 heaping spoons of Green Chile Pesto
1/3 cup crumble soft goat cheese, plus more for the top
pumpkins seeds to garnish, optional
-->

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Baked Potato Puffs – A New Way to Pomme Dauphine from a Potato Fiend

The hardest line cook job I ever had was working the broiler station at the Carnelian Room, where on a busy night I’d prepare over 250 steaks and chops, which wasn’t even the most difficult part. No, the biggest challenge was actually frying these potato puffs to order, to go on all those plates.

It was a lot of work, but a labor of love, since pomme dauphine, as my French friends would call this, is one of the greatest foods ever invented, especially for potato fanatics like me. However, as with most fried foods, they can be messy to make, and unless you have an industrial-strength hood fan, your kitchen will smell like a deep fryer for days, which is why I wanted to try and do a baked version.

I was very happy with the results, and while the outside wasn’t dark and crispy like the fried version, the inside was virtually identical, and thoroughly enjoyable in their own right. Whether you’re making them as a warm snack with a dip, or to go alongside some eggs, or a grilled steak, the baked version should work out just fine.

Of course, since we’re getting close to Thanksgiving, if you are one of these people who deep-fries the turkey, I would probably go with the traditional method. Especially since you’ll be cooking outside where sneaking a few of these while you’re working will be pretty easy to get away with. Either way, I really do hope you give these potato puffs a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 Small Baked Potato Puffs:
(I did a tiny test batch, so I highly recommend doubling or tripling the recipe)
1 cup cooked, plain mashed potatoes (Yukon or Russet)
salt and cayenne to taste
small pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
butter for the muffin tin
For the pastry dough:
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 large egg

- For a mini muffin tin*, butter well, and bake at 450 F for about 20 minutes, or until browned and puffed.

- Or, deep-fry at 375 F for a few minutes until browned and puffed.

* These might work in a regular muffin tin, but you’ll need to bake longer.