Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Fresh Asparagus Patties – Spring is in the Air, After Coming Up Through the Ground

There are certain things I wait for every year that tells me spring is really here.  Baseball on the radio, having to change the clocks, and all that beautiful green asparagus piled high at the market. 

Even though we can now get asparagus pretty much year-round, it just seems to look and taste better this time year, especially if you’re listening to baseball, while observing the correct time.

And while I love whole spears of asparagus prepared simply, once in a while I crave a new and exciting delivery system, and these delicious, and beautiful patties were just that.  As I mentioned in the video, this was an experiment, but other than maybe cutting up the asparagus a little smaller, I don’t think I’d change too much. To clarify, I’m speaking about the actual patty itself, and not how it was served, since I have a few thoughts regarding that.

I gave a few alternative sauce ideas in the video, but what about topping these with poached eggs, and doing some kind of vegetarian Benedict? Or maybe make them a little bigger, and thicker, and serve them on a nicely toasted burger bun? There are just a few ideas to get you started.  Regardless of how you serve these asparagus patties, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 asparagus patties:
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed, blanched in well salted water (it should taste like sea water)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1 ounce finely grated pecorino cheese, or Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 unpacked cup after grating on a microplane)
1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
2 large eggs
olive oil, as needed for frying
fresh lemon to garnish and/or use in your *sauce

* My sauce was simply mayonnaise spiked with raw garlic, lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Corned Beef & Kimchi Fried Rice – Just Like Your Irish-American-Korean Grandmother Used to Make

After too many requests to count, I’m finally posting my recipe for kimchi fried rice, and by “my recipe,” I mean everyone’s recipe, since give or take a handful of meat, they’re all pretty much the same. 

Having said that, I’ll give a shout out to the lovely and talented, Maanchi, since I checked her channel to make sure I wasn’t missing any key elements, as well as learn how to say, “gochujang.”

I’m not sure how close I got to the later, but except for the seaweed, I did get all the ingredients right. Of course, the diced corned beef is optional, but if you do have some leftover from your St. Patrick’s Day, I highly recommend you give it a try. Bacon is another fine choice, as is almost any other diced meat I can think of.

The egg is also technically optional, but not for me. The way the runny yolk mixes into, and moistens the rice takes this to a whole other level. The poached egg also paired quite nicely with my “landweed” garnish, as it does with the much more traditional shredded seaweed. But, no matter how you accessorize, I really hope you give this corned beef and kimchi fried rice a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large portions:
1 generous cup chopped drained kimchi
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups diced corned beef or other meat
3 generous cooked rice, (I find cold works best for crustification)
1/4 cup kimchi juice
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons gochujang chili paste
1/2 cup sliced green onion
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil, or to taste
2 poached or fried eggs
shredded seaweed to garnish, optional

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Beer-Braised Lamb Shanks – Springing Forward with Lamb and Beer

We’re in one of those in between times of the year, when you start to see Spring ingredients and recipes, which are always a welcomed sight, yet the weather may still be cold and dreary, which is why these beer-braised lamb shanks work so well.

Lamb is a classic springtime meat, and by using the shanks, we not only get a great seasonal meal, but an extremely comforting one at that. Of all the cuts, the shank has the most connective tissue, and as long as you cook it enough, you’ll be rewarded with tender, succulent meat that warms you from the inside out.

However, if you don’t braise it long enough, the meat will be tough, rubbery, and borderline inedible, which means you’ll have to get online, and give that recipe a terrible review for not working. Okay, just kidding. What you really want to do is not stop cooking until it’s completely tender. Above and beyond how long to braise, try to use a deep pan that’s just large enough to fit however many shanks you’re doing in a single layer. A tight-fitting lid is also highly recommended.

As far as the beer goes, I used a cheap, unremarkable lager, which came in a 24-ounce can (which explains the measuring cup), and it worked wonderfully. If you’re feeling experimental, something like an amber ale would also be great, as would a fruity sour (which would make it a lamb-bic). The only thing I’d avoid would be something that’s super hoppy, as the bitterness may overwhelm the other flavors. Regardless of what beer you decide to use, I really do hope you get this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Portions:
2 lamb shanks (ask butcher for the smaller fore shanks)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large rib celery, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 large carrot, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons tomato paste
12 ounces not-too-hoppy beer
2 springs rosemary
pinch cayenne
sliced green onions, optional

Friday, March 9, 2018

Kimchi Corned Beef – Adding Some Seoul to St. Patrick’s Day

I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s Day, since apparently that’s the only day of the year I get to eat corned beef and cabbage. Besides the copious amounts of salt, nitrates, and fat, I have no idea way we’re not eating this stuff a couple times a week. Anyway, because this is usually an annual thing, most folks make it the same way, year after year, but that’s never been my M.O. I like to think of ways to creatively tweak the recipe, so that while I’m enjoying my new creation, I can think about how much I’d wished I just boiled it in water, with that little packet. 

What I’m trying to say is, not every attempt has been a homerun. Or whatever a homerun in Irish hurling is. This, however, was a success. The spicy, fermented cabbage, added a lot of extra savoriness, and not only to the meat, but even more so to the vegetables.  The potatoes especially soaked up a surprising amount of flavor, and may have been my favorite part of the whole dish.

I used a corned beef made from the round, instead of the traditional brisket, which worked out much better than I thought it would. If you do decide to go this lower fat option, be sure not to cook it too long. The fork should pierce the meat without too much force, but we do not want to meat falling apart, as it will become dry and chalky. Chances are you’re going to use a brisket anyway, which is much more forgiving, but something to keep in mind if you do go with the round. Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 ready to cook corned beef (mine was about 3 1/2 pounds)
4 cups kimchi, not drained
1 cup cold water or as needed
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
3 large carrots, cut in large chunks
2 ribs celery, cut in large chunks
green onions to garnish

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Beef Pirozhki – Russia, Russia, Russia!

Like most well informed, non-crazy Americans, I’m waiting for Russia to get their just desserts for interfering with our democracy; but, before we get to dessert, we need to have dinner, and that’s where these delicious beef pirozhki come in.

While not necessarily easy to make, the dough and filling are pretty simple, and the results well worth the trouble. Literally any filling will work here, but I was going for a very specific style of pirozhki, which I’ll describe as “mid-eighties, liquor store deli.” Allow me to explain.

I once worked as a bike messenger for like two days. After realizing how grueling it was, especially in hilly San Francisco, I spent my life savings ($120) to buy a friend’s scooter, which extended my career by a full 6 months. The money wasn’t great, and so for lunch I’d get a beef pirozhki from one of those sketchy delis you sometimes see in the back of big city corner stores.

They only cost two bucks, delivered a ridiculously high number of calories, and even though I knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing to eat, I grew to love the taste. So, when I decided to film this, I set out to get as close to that experience as possible. It took a few tries, but I ended up with something very similar. The only major difference is that I know for sure what meat was used.

Since you’re not trying to recapture a taste from your past, feel free to add more cheese to the filling, which will not only taste good, but also make the crumbly filling easier to work with. But, no matter what you stuff these with, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 15 Pirozhki, depending on the size:

For the beef filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried dill

1/3 cup chicken broth or water to deglaze
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, optional
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, optional

For the dough:
1 scant cup warm milk (just under a cup of milk heated to about 100 F.)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
about 3 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

NOTE: I’m not sure the amount of filling will match the amount of dough, but if you have extra of either, both can be frozen until next time.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Easy Cheese Soufflés – Sorry, Béchamel

It's not often that you cut a step or two from a classic recipe, and it actually comes out better, but that's what happened with this cheese soufflé experiment. I was actually working on something I was going to call “cheesecake soufflé,” and since I was adding cream cheese to the base, I decided to skip the classic white sauce, and simply smear everything together.

Not only did this make the operation much faster, and easier, the cheese flavor seemed to be “cleaner,” and more pronounced. Ultimately, I decided not to call this a “cheesecake soufflé, since hot cheesecake just seems wrong, but also because the technique works just as well for a savory version.

You’ll want to skip the sugar, vanilla, and maybe the lemon zest, but everything else should work the same. The cream cheese works really nicely as a neutral base to incorporate the rest of the ingredients, and literally any type of grating cheese will work for the second type. I love a nice sharp, aged cheddar, but Gruyere, Gouda, and Comté would all be wonderful in this.

As I mentioned in the video, despite being a very easy recipe, you will probably have to practice a few times to lock in the perfect cooking time. Variables like the oven type, ramekin size, and batter temperature will all effect the time. Plus, you have to decide how “French” you want yours. Regardless, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Soufflés:
2 large egg yolks
2 ounces cream cheese (about a rounded 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 ounce shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/3 cup unpacked)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, beaten with a pinch of salt to soft peaks
butter and sugar for 2 (5.5 ounce) ramekins

- Mine baked at 400 F. for 12 minutes, but your times will vary!