Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New England Clam Chowder Dip – Because Great Soups Make Even Better Dips

Truth be told, this New England Clam Chowder Dip is actually the first soup I’ve ever turned into a dip, but I still stand by my title. After all, what are soups, if not really thin, hot dips you eat with a spoon? 

The point is, while this may be my first soup-to-dip conversion, it’s probably not going to be my last. I’m looking at you, Mulligatawny.

I thought I was inventing something new here, but of course, like everything else, many people had already given this a go. The funny thing was, every recipe I looked at called for this to be served with sliced bread, which I thought was odd. To me, potatoes are like the second or third best ingredient in a chowder, so why not serve this with chips?

Besides that, my other big improvement was to up the bacon content. Some recipes called for as little as two slices. Two slices of bacon? What am I supposed to do with that? So, I went with three times as much, and it turned out to be a very good decision. While quite “bacon forward,” the clam flavor still came through, and all in all, this really was very chowder-like.

The only semi out-of-the-ordinary ingredient used was a spice blend called, “Old Bay.” This is not very hard to find in the big grocery stores, but just in case, here is a link to make a your own. Besides, even if you have some in the pantry, it may have been there for quite sometime, and while Old Bay works well, old, Old Bay may not, so it might not be a bad idea to make a batch anyway.  Either way, I really do hope you give this a great hot dip a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one small casserole dish:
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup diced celery
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
1 pound cream cheese, room temp
4 ounces white cheddar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
2 cans (6 1/2 ounces) chopped clams, drained
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
pinch of cayenne for the top
potato chips to serve alongside

Friday, January 26, 2018

Philly Cheese Steak Dip – Fly Eagles, Fly

I was going to say this Eagles-inspired cheese steak dip would be great to serve at your Super Bowl party, but I just remembered we’re not allowed to use the term “Super Bowl” anymore, since that’s aggressively protected by the National Football League’s lawyers. So, instead of saying, Super Bowl, again, I’ll just say “Big Game.”

Regardless of what’s printed on your invitations, this easy to make hot dip would make a handsome addition to your snack table. Like all great party foods, it’s wonderful hot, warm, room temp, and, I’ve heard from a reliable source, even delicious cold. By the way, never print invitations to your Big Game party.

As I mentioned in the video, there are several approaches for preparing the steak in this. You can chop it up raw, and then brown it, or brown pieces of steak, and then chop it up, as we did here, or, if you really want to save some time, you could brown up some ground beef, which should also work pretty well in this.

For a vegetarian version, you could do this with well-browned mushrooms, which I’m guessing would be very tasty. I’ll never know for sure. Anyway, stay tuned for some kind of party food celebrating the other city in this contest, but in the meantime I really do hope you give this Philly cheese steak dip a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 24 portions of Philly Cheese Steak Dip:
1 pound top sirloin steak, cut into inch thick slices (any beef should work)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced peppers (use a mix of sweet, hot, and/or pickled peppers)
1 pound cream cheese, softened
8 ounces shredded provolone cheese
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
touch of cayenne
- sliced baguette to serve alongside

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sticky Garlic Pork Chops – What Do You Think, About Slightly Pink?

This sticky garlic pork chop recipe seems too good to be true. It only takes a few minutes of prep work, requires no tricky techniques, and doesn’t call for any hard-to-find ingredients.

And for the last time, Asian fish sauce is not hard to find. It used to be, but it’s now carried in every major grocery store, and I consider it a must-have in anyone’s kitchen.

Above and beyond the sauce, which is also our marinade, the other key to this recipe is finding some nice, thick, bone-in pork chops. While this will theoretically work with thin, boneless “chops,” we give ourselves much more room for error when it comes to achieving the perfect doneness.

Speaking of which, I shoot for about 140 to 145 F. internal temperature, which will produce a very juicy, tender piece of meat. Sure, you may see a subtle, pale pink hue, but it’s still perfectly safe to eat, and you’ll be amazed at how much nicer the texture is, especially after sitting in the brine-like marinade.

Of course, if you’re one of these people who always cooks pork well done, because your grandparents told you about the horrors of trichinosis when you were a kid, then fine. Go ahead and cook it all the way through, until it’s nice and dry, but you really are missing out. You’re still not convinced? Either way, I really do hope you give these sticky garlic pork chops a try soon. Enjoy!

For the marinade/sauce mixture (would probably be enough for 4 chops):
1/3 cup light brown sugar
6 to 8 cloves crushed or very finely minced garlic
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 thick-cut pork chops, bone in (about 10 to 12-ounce each)

Friday, January 19, 2018

The “Hot Brown” – Kentucky’s Favorite Bourbon Absorbent

As I joked about in the intro, for something to be called a “Hot Brown,” and still become so wildly popular, is a true testament to just how amazingly delicious this really is. 

Invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, to help late night partygoers keep going, this hot turkey gratin may be my all-time favorite, fork and knife sandwich.

And for something that seems so decadent, I don’t actually find it to be all that heavy of a meal. Of course, that could be the bourbon talking. I guess you could use milk instead of cream to lighten this up, but unless you’re going to start eating these several times a week, I think you should stick to the original formula.

I’m sure this would be okay with some thickly sliced turkey from the deli, but roasting your own is pretty easy, and you can use the leftovers for a few less extravagant sandwiches. Either way, I really do hope you give this Kentucky classic a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for the sauce (enough for 4 small or 2 giant portions):
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for grating on top
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste

For the turkey (enough for 4 portions):
1 teaspoon oil or butter to grease baking dish
2 pound boneless turkey breast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence, or other dried/fresh herbs of your choice
- Roast at 350 F. to an internal temp of 148 F.

For each Hot Brown:
2 pieces white bread, toasted
6 ounces roast turkey breast (3 thick slices)
3 slices of tomato
enough prepared cheese sauce to cover
grated Pecorino Romano for the top
paprika or cayenne for the top
2 slices bacon, precooked
chopped Italian parsley

- Finish under a low broiler, or in 475 F. oven until the sauce is bubbly and browned, and the bacon is cooked. To cheat, you can cook bacon crisp separately, and just top the finished dish, but I think it tastes better if you brown with the bacon on top.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Chocolate Croissants – But Just Barely

I’ll admit to being pretty underwhelmed the first time I had a chocolate croissant, or “pain au chocolat,” as I’d mispronounce it; but eventually I realized the relatively sparse amount of chocolate wasn’t any kind of stinginess, but rather the true secret behind this amazing pastry.

Properly done, this should ride that line between sweet pastry and a savory bread, so don’t overdo it with the chocolate chunks; otherwise you’ll lose that beautiful balance. Other than that, not much can go wrong. Just be sure to bake them until nicely browned, and let them cool before enjoying.

While this will work with that dough in the tube, I’d like to think you’d make a batch of your own dough using our recently posted croissant recipe. Don’t worry, it only seems like a lot of work. Either way, I really do hope you give these chocolate croissants a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Chocolate Croissants:
1 batch of croissant dough from this recipe (split in half for two batches of 6)
about 1 cup roughly chopped chocolate chunks, or chips
1 large egg, plus 1 tablespoon of water for the egg wash
coarsely ground sea salt
- Bake at 400 F. for about 20-25 minutes, or until well-browned

Friday, January 12, 2018

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, or “Pizza” As We Call It In New York

The biggest problem with Chicago-style deep dish pizza, especially for a New Yorker, is that it’s called “pizza.” I’m not sure what else it could’ve, or should’ve been called, but when you grow eating thin-crust, and all of a sudden someone hands you a plate of this, with a fork, and calls it pizza, it’s quite the shock to the system.

Having said that, for the home cook at least, this deep dish pizza is actually much easier to pull off than your classic thin-crust, which really benefits from a 700 F. pizza oven. Another advantage is that we don’t have to worry about too much, or too many toppings, which is usually the fatal flaw of a poorly made NY-style pizza.

One key, besides the buttery, cornmeal-infused crust, is to be sure your sauce is very thick, and flavorful. Some Chicago pizzerias simply use seasoned, coarsely crushed tomatoes, but I prefer using a sauce, as long as it’s reduced at least as much as you see here. Your favorite will work, but just in case you don’t have one of those, here’s a link to our official pizza sauce recipe.

I went with a pretty basic sausage and cheese version here, but you can, and probably should, add other things like peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Same goes for switching up the cheeses, but I do like the combo of fresh, and firm mozzarella. I don’t think it’s quite as good if you use all one, or the other. Regardless, I really hope you give this “pizza” a try soon. Enjoy!

For the dough (enough for a 12-inch cast iron skillet):
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 3/4 cups flour, plus more as needed

For the fillings/toppings (in order of application):
4 ounces sliced provolone
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from casing
4 ounces firm, low-moisture mozzarella
3 to 4 cups very thick pizza sauce (I made a double batch)
2 ounces (about 1 cup very finely grated) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil for the top
more cheese and parsley to garnish

- Bake at 425 F. for about 35 minutes

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Denver Omelet – Denver, Colorado, Not Denver, France

This Denver omelet was one of the first things I learned how to make professionally, during my brief, but exciting career as a short order cook in high school. So, it was a little disconcerting to learn when I arrived at culinary school that everything I had done was totally wrong.

According to the chefs teaching me how to make a classic French omelet, my Denver omelet was overcooked, over-browned, and included too many ingredients.  It was made very clear that if I made that for my exam, I would fail, which was confusing since I thought they were really good, and the people at the diner where I’d worked seemed to agree.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate both styles of omelet, and understand they really are two entirely different things. I’m not sure exactly why, but I seem to prefer the softer French version for breakfast, and this heartier American-style for lunch, or dinner. Maybe it’s the browning, or denser texture, but it really does make for a great “can’t figure out what to have for dinner” idea.

As with all omelets, feel free to toss in anything you want, but just be sure to cook it long enough before adding the eggs.  To me there’s nothing worse than an omelet with crunchy, undercooked vegetables in it, and that’s really the only way to screw this up. But, no matter what you use, or when you enjoy this, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one Denver omelet:
1 tablespoon butter
3 large eggs
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced smoked ham
2 tablespoon finely diced onion
2 tablespoon finely green bell pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

Friday, January 5, 2018

Chennai Chicken Wings – A Football Snack from the Land of Cricket

I used to do a new chicken wing video every year before the Super Bowl, but that yearly ritual stopped when I sort of ran out of things to do with them. Being from Western New York State, where chicken wings are as much a religion, as they are a snack, I didn’t want these posts to become gratuitous and contrived.

However, this year I was inspired to reestablish the tradition after enjoying an appetizer called “Chennai Chicken,” served at Dosa, which is one of my favorite Indian restaurants in San Francisco. Their version features thin strips of breast coasted with a ton of spice, and deep-fried to a gorgeous brick red.  

It’s one of those dishes you can’t stop eating, no matter how badly your mouth is burning, and I thought it would make a great approach for a batch of Buffalo wings. Since they’d never published the recipe, I did a lot of guessing here, but think I got pretty close. One of the key ingredients is an Indian spice blend called garam masala, which isn’t too hard to find, but if you can’t, here’s a link to a recipe for making your own.

As usual, feel free to alter the spice amounts as you see fit, but as I said in the video, do not skip the rice vinegar sauce. It really makes the dish. I’m not sure if these wings are too exotic for your Super Bowl party, or if your guests are not exotic enough for them, but I really hope you give them a try anyway. Enjoy!

4 pounds split chicken wings
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon rice flour
4 teaspoons cayenne
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons kosher salt

For the ginger oil:
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon julienned or grated ginger root
2 teaspoons sambal (spicy ground chili sauce)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Ben Franklin Breakfast Bowl – One Founding Father’s Alternative to Fast Food

I much prefer teaching to preaching, but this time I’m attempting to do both, with the hope that you might introduce this delicious breakfast bowl into your morning routine. I’m not sure if an apple a day really does keep the doctor away, but I do know that being in the drive-thru line every morning, doesn’t.

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which may or may not be true, but I’ve always found it to be the most difficult meal of the day.  There never seems to be enough time, and so it’s easy to get into a rut, resorting to questionable choices such as sugary cereal and milk, or fast-food breakfast sandwiches.

As far as specific ingredient choices go, I like to use chilled Honey Crisp, or Fuji apples, and, as I mentioned in the clip, sheep’s milk is my preferred yogurt. Some say it’s easier to digest, and it contains higher amounts of linoleic acid, which apparently helps with fat loss, but I simply prefer the taste. Just be sure to use a plain yogurt, since many flavored varieties contain a shocking amount of sugar.

So, whether you try this to help with that New Year’s resolution, or you’re just looking to add some variety into the morning routine, I really do hope you give this Ben Franklin breakfast bowl a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one portion:
1 cold, raw apple, cubed
6 ounces plain sheep’s milk yogurt
2 heaping tablespoons granola (click here for our recipe)
chopped nuts and/or additional seasonal fruit to garnish