Saturday, March 16, 2019

Coney Island Knishes – St. Patrick’s Day Leftovers Edition

One of my earliest “exotic” food experiences was eating potato knishes with my Dad when we’d visit Coney Island. There were the square variety, and we’d buy them from a hot dog cart, and since potatoes were my favorite food growing up, I was in heaven. I mean, mashed potatoes in a warm, flaky pastry? I’ll have two, please.

Back then they were still made with copious amounts of chicken fat, also know as “schmaltz,” which was the real secret behind their awesomeness, but you can make a perfectly fine version without that, especially if you have some leftover corned beef around. Regardless of how you fill these, the technique seen herein will work, and half the fun is trying new versions. As long as the base is mashed potato, spiked with onions fried in lots of fat, anything goes.

I think the baked version is the easiest, but if you feel so inclined, these can also be deep-fried, or pan-fried. No matter how you cook them, one of the keys is getting the dough nice and thin, so your finished product is mostly filling. Other than that, these are relatively simple to make, and the kind of snack that fills more than just an empty stomach, which is why I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 16 Knishes:
(Please Note: I only used half the dough in the video, and only made enough filling for 8 knishes, but the following ingredients will make 16 total)

For the dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup warm water

For the filling (might make extra):
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and boiled in salted water until tender
1/2 cup melted butter, and/or rendered chicken fat
2 cups diced yellow onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine salt), plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
8 ounces diced corned beef
1 cup finely chopped cooked cabbage

- Bake at 375 F. for about 40 minutes, or until golden-brown
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Irish Tea Cake – Was this Barmbrack Wack?

Every year I try to post at least one Irish recipe, and this time around I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary, and try my hand at Barmbrack. I love corned beef and cabbage as much as the next guy, but you can only film it so many different ways. Anyway, the thought of a nice, moist, dense, fruity tea cake for breakfast, with a cup of hot, black tea, sounded just about perfect, and so I started researching this ancient loaf…and researching…and researching, until I had seen and read so many recipes that I didn’t know which direction to go.

There are a huge variety of styles, from light, yeast-raised versions, to super-dense ones, similar to the often-maligned holiday fruitcake. So, I decided to just wing it, and use the force, which usually works out well, but this time, not so much. This is traditionally a Halloween treat, and my experience was equal parts trick and treat.

I’m hearing from my Irish friends on YouTube that I should have probably used baking soda, plus more tea to get a little more rise. They also say that using half wholegrain flour will inhibit the verticality as well. Notwithstanding my results, at the very least, I’ve hopefully made some of you aware of barmbrack, and maybe you’ll give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 9” x 5” loaf pan:
2 cups warm black tea
1⁄2 cup golden raisins
1⁄2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried currants
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole grain flour (I’m told this makes the loaf a lot heavier, so maybe use all regular flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I’m told I should’ve probably added a teaspoon of baking soda)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1⁄4 cup milk
2 tablespoons reserved black tea
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey or any whiskey
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons melted butter
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Saturday, March 9, 2019

German Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelkloesse) – Dial-Up Some Delicious Dumplings

Sorry for the late upload, but I had some mysterious modem issues, and this German potato dumpling video took over 5 hours to upload! I was having flashbacks to those good, old dial-up AOL days, and they weren’t good flashbacks. I do miss that cool modem sound, but that's about it.

Anyway, it’s late, but I wanted to post the ingredient amounts, and maybe I'll add some more info tomorrow, although these are so basic that’s probably not necessary. The only tip I’ll give is that I think baking the potatoes works better than boiling them whole. Peeling, quartering, and boiling until tender will also work, but don’t overcook them, otherwise they'll absorb too much water.

By the way, if you’re German, or know the same things they do, I’d love to learn why we're sticking croutons in the middle of these things. I totally get the crumbs on top, but inside? If you have an explanation, I’d like love to hear it, and in the meantime, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 to 10 German Potato Dumplings:
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
pinch of nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup flour
fresh chives to garnish
For the croutons/crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
2 cups fresh bread cubes
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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kouign-Amann – Yas Queen!

The fact that Kouign-Amann (Pronounced “Queen-a-mahn”) have become a popular item in bakeries across America is quite a tribute to just how incredible they really are, since to stock something that no one can spell or pronounce is generally considered a retail sales no-no. As you may know, I pride myself on mispronouncing things, but even I don’t like to be corrected by a salesperson, and their judgmental, I can’t believe you just said “kooeegan-aman” look.

Yet, despite the difficult name, they’ve thrived for the very simple reason that this is one of the world’s great pastries. Maybe the greatest. I guess that depends on who you talk to, but the irresistible combination of sweet, salty, sticky, buttery, crispy, flaky, and tender, is hard to beat.

I guess you could just buy some frozen puff pasty, or croissant dough, and skip to the last step, but unlike many of those, the base here is a fairly lean bread dough, which I think is one of the secrets. A richer milk-based dough, which already contains lots of butter and sugar, won’t necessarily provide the same contrast.

Speaking of secrets, I think the real magic of these is the salt. Apparently the authentic ones are fairly salty, and just as savory, as they are sweet, but you don’t want to over do it. I suggest starting with less than I call for in your seasoned sugar mix, and then tasting on a wet finger to see where you’re at. Then, add more until you think it’s right.

Part of me hopes you have a bakery that does these nearby, so you can easily taste them for yourself, but another part of me hopes you don’t, so you’ll try to make them. Either way, you’re in for a huge treat. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 Kouign-Amann:
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the seasoned sugar (mix, taste, and adjust):
2/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons of sea salt or kosher salt (less if you’re using a fine table salt)
For the rest:
8 ounces ice cold unsalted butter (2 sticks) for the pastry
1 tablespoon melted butter for the muffin pan
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Sunday, March 3, 2019

My Big Fat Greek Baked Beans – Finally!

As I may have mentioned on Twitter several times, Michele and I have both been sick all week, so please pardon the lateness, and brevity of this post. The good news is this Greek-style baked beans recipe is very simple, and there’s not a lot of extra info I need to pass along.

One thing I will mention is that while these are baking, be sure to peek once in a while to see if you need to add more liquid. You can bake covered, but then you don’t get the crustification on top, so I prefer to bake uncovered, and stir in a splash of water, or two, if it looks like it’s getting too dry.

If you can find gigante beans, they really are the best, but Conona beans also work great, as will any other large dried bean. Just be sure to soak them properly, and simmer them until tender before proceeding to the baking step. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m climbing into my big, fat bed. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 portions:
1 pound dried Gigante, Conona, Lima, or other large dried bean (soaked overnight)
3 quarts cold fresh water to boil in
2 bay leaves
1 large red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 cups tomato sauce or finely chopped fresh tomato
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons clover honey
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for the top
1 tablespoon kosher salt (2 teaspoon if using fine table salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups water, plus more as needed while baking
4 ounces feta cheese for the top
- Bake at 350 F. until beans are soft
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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mississippi Beef Short Ribs – Based on an Amazing Recipe I’ve Never Had

I usually make a recipe before trying to adapt it, but that didn’t happen with this Mississippi beef short ribs recipe, which is based on the viral sensation, Mississippi pot roast. In the original, the beef is braised in a slow-cooker with butter, pepperoncini, and packets of powdered au jus gravy, and powdered ranch dressing. I really wanted to try it, but I was afraid someone at the store would recognize me buying those last two ingredients.

Anyway, people were losing their minds over how delicious it was, and while I figured most of that was due to the copious amounts of MSG in the gravy, and dressing mixes, I was fascinated by the strange combination of ingredients, and decided to give it a whirl with some boneless short ribs.  I’m so glad I did, as this really did come out amazingly well.

The original recipe calls for a few whole pepperoncini to be scattered over the top, which in hindsight, probably would have worked out better. I used a ton of sliced peppers, and their intense briny taste almost made this seem too salty. So, like I said in the video, if you do use the sliced ones, be careful not to overdo it. 

The pieces of “short rib” I used, which are actually just neatly cut pieces of super-marbled chuck, where nice and thick, which means if yours aren’t, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time. As usual, we don’t want to go by time anyway, and simply keep cooking until they are fork tender. But, no matter the size or shape of your beef, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 Portions:
For the seasoning mix:
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoon finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the rest:
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and to taste
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
1 large onion, sliced
handful sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
6 whole pepperoncini peppers (or 1/3 cup of sliced like I used)
1/4 cup unsalted butter

- Roast covered at 350 F. for about 2 1/2 hours, or until tender.
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Friday, February 22, 2019

Creamy Cashew Chicken Curry – Moooove Over Real Cream

This creamy cashew chicken recipe is completely dairy-free (expect for the butter), but that’s not why you should make it. You should make this simple curry because it’s so rich and satisfying that you won’t even care that it’s better for you, and possibly the cows.

It really is pretty remarkable how similar the cashew cream is to regular heavy cream in appearance, taste, and in-sauce behavior. In fact, cashew cream actually thickens up faster than cream, which usually has to be reduced a bit before it will coat the meat.

As far as the rest of the ingredients go, there’s nothing too exotic, except maybe for the garam masala, which in case you’re wondering, translates to “hot spice.” There are many variations, but if you can’t find one, the most common ingredients are cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, mace, dried chilies, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and turmeric; just in case you want to whip up a batch of your own.

Speaking of spices, how much you should use in this is a very personal thing. Below you’ll see what I went with, which I thought was on the fairly mild side, so feel free to add more. Also, the salt in our dry marinade does a pretty good job of seasoning the chicken, but you’ll probably need more as it cooks in the sauce, so be sure to check. Of course, the hardest thing about this recipe is deciding whether to serve it with rice, garlic naan, or both, but I'm sure you'll figure that out when you give this a try, which will hopefully be very soon. Enjoy! 


Ingredients for 4 large portions Creamy Cashew Chicken:
For the Spice Mix:
(use a little more than half to marinade the chicken, and the rest to add to the sauce)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2  teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons paprika (hot and/or smoked would also work well)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 generous teaspoons garam masala, or other prepared “curry powder” blends

For the Cashew Cream:
3/4 cup whole roasted cashews
2 cups cold water

For the rest:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (mixed with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and spice blend, and marinated for 4 to 12 hours)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 yellow onion, chopped or sliced
rest of the reserved spice blend
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 finely minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 cup chicken broth
all the prepared cashew cream
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup freshly chopped cilantro
freshly squeezed juice of one lime, plus extra wedges for service
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Garlic Naan – Now, 100% Tandoor-Free

Naan bread, especially this easy to make garlic naan, is the real reason Indian restaurants give you so much extra sauce when you order a curry. I mean, sure, the basmati rice helps, but good luck getting all that goodness off your plate using a fork.

Besides being near lots of great curries, the other advantage the restaurant naan enjoys is being cooked in the intense heat of the tandoor oven. However, we can pull off a pretty good version at home by using a smoking hot cast iron skillet. By the way, it shouldn’t literally be smoking, since we cook these without any oil in the skillet, but the key to this whole operation is waiting for the pan to get up to the proper temperature.

In fact, done correctly, the blistered bubbles will be charred to a lovely golden-black, so be brave. I’m working on the creamy cashew chicken curry seen herein, and hope to post that next, but in the meantime, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 Garlic Naan:
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1/4 cup plain yogurt
about 2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp fine salt)
1 tablespoon garlic butter
- Cook in a very hot, dry cast iron skillet for 2 to 3 minutes per side

For the Garlic Butter:
1/2 cup melted butter
4 cloves finely minced garlic
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Friday, February 15, 2019

Garlic Noodles – Roasted Garlic Crab Sold Separately

These deceptively simple, yet devastatingly delicious garlic noodles were invented in San Francisco, at a restaurant called, Thanh Long, back in the 70’s. Usually served with roasted Dungeness crab, the actual recipe is a very closely guarded family secret, but after lots of investigation, and even more experimentation, I think this is very close, at least for a non-MSG laced version.

Apparently, one of their “secret” ingredients is something called, Maggi Seasoning Sauce, which I decided not to use, since I’m not sure how easy it is for the average person to find. Besides, I think my assortment of savory, umami-rich substitutes did the job quite nicely, and everything in the ingredient list can be found at any large grocery store.

The most exotic thing here would be the oyster sauce, which is sort of a very savory, slightly sweet, thick, soy sauce-like condiment. And yes, it does have oyster extracts in it, in case that matters. If you can’t find it, just add a touch more fish sauce, soy, and Worcestershire, as well as little brown sugar.

Most garlic noodles actually call for sugar in the recipe, but I think that makes it too sweet for my taste, since the oyster sauce is fairly sweet, as is all that sautéed garlic. Regardless, whether you enjoy this with some roasted garlic crab, or as is, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 small portions Garlic Noodles:
PLEASE NOTE: The saltiness of the following ingredients can vary, as can how sensitive people are to the taste of salt, so you may need to increase or decrease the amounts below. 
For the secret sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of cayenne pepper
For the rest:
6 ounces dry egg noodles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 cloves finely minced garlic
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
thinly sliced green onion to garnish
red chili flakes to taste
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

“Burnt” Basque Cheesecake - Yes, On Purpose

This “burnt” Basque cheesecake is one of the rare trendy recipes that I’m actually posting while it’s still trendy. I usually wait like three or four years, and by that time people have lost interest, and it seems like I’m doing it to be ironic. Well, this time the hype got to me, and now I understand why all the fuss.

By cooking the cheesecake in a very hot oven, we get a beautiful, dark exterior, which not only looks great, but the bittersweet notes it provides makes the light, creamy cheesecake inside seem even more rich, and flavorful. Besides the taste and texture, this method is just plain easier, as long as you can find some parchment paper.

Depending on the size of the roll or sheet you buy, you may have to overlap it, but as long as the pan is covered, and it comes up a few inches past the top, you’re fine. I assumed this technique was adapted from some ancient Basque recipes, but as it turns out, it was actually developed at a café in San Sebastian, called La Vina in the 70’s. That probably explains the Philly cream cheese.

Anyway, if you haven’t had the best luck with traditional cheesecake methods, you should stop trying, and just make this exclusively. Just make sure you tell you’re guests it’s supposed to be “burnt,” although if they’re on social media, they probably already know. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 9-inch cake pan (8-10 Portions):
24 ounces soft cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt (or 3/4 to 1 teaspoon Kosher salt)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs (you can use 5 large eggs)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

- Bake at 400 F. for 50 to 55 minutes, or until puffed and well browned. For a little more color, you can crank the oven up to 425 or 450 F. for the last 10 minutes or so.
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Friday, February 8, 2019

Pork Agrodolce – Treat Your Meat to Some Sour and Sweet

"Agrodolce” is a very generic Italian term for any type of sweet and sour condiment, and while it’s used on all sorts of things, it really shines, both literally and figuratively, when used for braising chunks of succulent pork shoulder. This really was a thoroughly enjoyable, soul-warming dish of comfort food, which is why I was so amused by how much it made me think of summer cooking.

I’m not sure if Italians “barbecue,” like we do here in the States, but this sauce very much reminded me of something we’d brush on a rack of ribs while sipping a cold beer. So, don’t be surprised if you see something like that happen once the weather warms up. In fact, a little touch of smokiness was maybe the only thing this dish was lacking, and we could have taken care of that with a little smoked paprika. Next time.

As I mention in the clip, once the meat is tender, and ready to serve, you’re going to have to decide whether to skim the fat. I’ll leave that decision to you and your medical team, but if you do, here are a few tips. It’s hard to skim rendered fat while it’s still in the baking dish, so I usually remove the meat, and pour the sauce into a measuring cup, or small saucepan. That way, we have much less surface area, and it’ll be way easier to spoon off the top. Also, if you make this ahead of time, and chill it overnight, the fat will harden, and you can easily remove it from the surface.

Either way, this pork agrodolce is amazing served on rice, pasta, polenta, or as I teased in the video, a big pile of ricotta mashed potatoes. In fact, I enjoyed those so much that if, and when, I adapt this sauce to the summer grill, I’m still going to use that as a side. But, no matter how you serve it, I really hope you give this it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions Pork Agrodolce:
3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3-inch chunks
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 or 2 anchovy fillets mashed
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup green onions
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

- Roast at 325 F. for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until very tender.

Note: While roasting, you can add a splash of water to the baking dish if things are drying out, and/or you can cook this covered after the meat has had time to brown. As long as the pork gets tender, and you’re left with enough agrodolce sauce to coat the meat, you did it right.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cheesecake Flan – False Advertising Has Never Tasted So Good

I tried to create a flan that tastes like cheesecake, but ended up with a cheesecake that tastes like flan, and yet I wasn’t disappointed in the least. While this may not have lived up to its enticing name, it was still one of the most delicious flans I’ve ever had.

Based on a cream cheese flan, I thought the addition of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and some graham cracker crumbs, would create the perfect hybrid, but our caramelized sugar had other ideas. It’s amazing how such a thin layer of caramel can dominate the other flavors, but that’s exactly what happened here, and if we really wanted a “cheesecake flan,” we’d need to omit that from the recipe.

Except if we did that it wouldn’t be a flan, and we’d have to call it “cheesecake custard.” So, let’s move past the name, and simply focus on what a great dessert this really was. I’ll probably skip the crumbs next time, since they didn’t add much, and annoyingly soaked up the pool of caramel on the plate. But, regardless of whether you include the crust, or what you decide to call it, I really do hope you give this gorgeous recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 4 Cheesecake Flans:
Please Note: I used four 5.5 ounce ramekins, and had a little custard mixture leftover, so you can probably get 5 out of this recipe if you use a slightly smaller ramekin, or fill them with less batter.

For the ramekins:
1 teaspoon melted butter or vegetable oil to grease ramekins
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar, caramelized to an amber color over medium heat

For the custard:
1/2 cup room temp cream cheese
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

For the crumb crust:
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter
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