Friday, April 19, 2019

Fresh Spring Vegetable Tart – Eat Your Heart Out, Giuseppe Arcimboldo

This spring vegetable tart only looks hard to make, and would be a perfect centerpiece for any special occasion meal, just as long as you put it out on the table a little bit early, since we’ll need to allow enough time for all the Instagramming that follows. And please, no flash photography.

As long as you use a wide array of colorful vegetables, and tuck them into a gnarly base of greens, this easy cheese tart/salad can’t help but look gorgeous. In fact, the hardest things will be deciding which vegetables to use, and how to prepare them.

As I said in the video, you can go with anything from raw to roasted, but my favorite way to prep the vegetables, is to simply blanch them briefly in boiling, salted water. Just cook them for a few minutes to take off the raw edge, and then plunge them into cold water, before draining, and dressing.

Above and beyond the veggies, this cheese filling will work with any soft cheese, but I think the tanginess of the goat cheese is an important factor, so if you use something milder, you may want to sneak in some lemon juice. Regardless, of what specific ingredients you use, I really hope you give this gorgeous vegetable tart technique a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for a 10-inch round Spring Vegetable Tart:
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (round or rectangular)
(This tart can be made with any type of shell, including piecrust, phyllo, etc.)
1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water (for brushing, and then for the filling)
For the filling:
1 1/4 cups goat cheese
salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne to taste
1/4 cup freshly chopped herbs, like dill, parsley, thyme, tarragon, basil, chives, etc.
the rest of the egg wash
1/4 cup heavy cream
For the vegetables:
2 handfuls mixed colorful salad greens (including something light and frizzy if possible)
2 to 3 cups of bite-sized fresh vegetables, briefly blanched in salted water
1/2 cup thinly sliced raw radishes, and cherry tomatoes
For the dressing (this is what I used, but your favorite salad dressing will work):
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Easy Baked Beef Brisket – Slow and Low is Not the Tempo

Remember that time you waited all day for your “low and slow” beef brisket to finish cooking, and once it finally did, it was dry? It left you disappointed, disillusioned, and wondering what went wrong. Well, I won’t bore you with all the scientific, easy-to-Google details, but basically meat can “stall” during long, low-heat methods, and never reach the proper internal temperature to fully release all the succulent goodness. 

If you really nail it, the results can be amazing, and I’ve gotten lucky a few times on the smoker, but this significantly faster method is much less risky. Unless you really overcook it, you shouldn’t have to worry about dry meat, and you can instead worry about other things, like whether you cooked enough meat. By the way, I'm not sure if they invented it, but I adapted this from something I saw watching an America's Test Kitchen rerun, so if you have issues, please contact them.

Speaking of enough meat, if you decide to use a whole brisket, this method will work as shown, but you’ll probably need to give it a little more time at the end to ensure it’s fork tender. Or not, but there’s only one way to find out, so have your poking fork handy, and use as needed. Whether you’re looking for a brisket recipe for Passover, or you’re simply interested in moister meat in less time, I really hope you give this easy, baked brisket recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions Easy Baked Beef Brisket:
(Adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
3 pound beef brisket (the flat half of a full brisket)
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

For the gravy/braising liquid:
2 tablespoons butter, oil, or rendered fat
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup apple juice or cider

- Bake at 325 F. for 1 1/2 hours, then reduce oven to 250 F., and cook for about 2 hours 15 minutes, or until fork tender.
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Friday, April 12, 2019

Lamb Borek and the Secret of Sogginess

Lamb borek is stunning to look at, and even more enjoyable to eat, which is all thanks to, believe it or not, intentionally soggy dough. This is something I didn’t grasp the first time I made it, and I just brushed melted butter between the layers, hoping for something really crispy, and flaky, which in Phylloland is standard operating procedure. However, since my dough was not made flexible by the egg/yogurt/butter wash we used here, it basically exploded in like seven spots when I tried to roll it up. Lesson learned.

Besides moisturizing the phyllo, this magic mixture also adds flavor, thanks to the tangy yogurt; and the melted butter helps create a fairly crispy exterior as well. So, while we don’t want to fully saturate the sheets, a light brushing really does wonders. If you use a 9 or 10 inch round pan like I did, three rolls should work out nicely, but this technique will work no matter what you bake it on. You can also skip the spiral effect, and keep them straight, or bend them into any other shape.

You’ll need a package of phyllo that provides at least 12 decent sheets, and I really hope yours is better than the tragic box I bought. However, as bad as mine was, it still worked out quite nicely, so I’m not exactly sure why I’m complaining. Anyway, whether you make the recipe as listed, or tweak the filling to your tastes, I really do hope you give this lamb borek recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 large portions:
(for one 9-10 inch round baking dish)

1 package frozen phyllo (filo) dough
2 teaspoons sesame seeds for the top, optional

For the lamb filling (you’ll have some leftover):
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 pounds ground lamb
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons currants
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup water

For the egg/yogurt/butter wash:
1 large egg
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon melted butter

For the yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons very finely sliced mint leaves
lemon juice to taste
1 crushed garlic clove, optional
enough water to achieve desired texture
pinch of salt and cayenne

- Bake at 400 F. for 35-40 minutes, or until browned and crisp.

Note: Save any extra phyllo, since the filling recipe above makes extra, and you can fold up some smaller, triangular boreks if you want.
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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

American-Style Soufflé Pancakes – Also Known as Not Japanese-Style Soufflé Pancakes

These easy to make soufflé pancakes use the same basic technique as their extremely trendy Japanese cousins, but are much easier, don’t require a mold, and actually taste like pancakes. Of course, these won’t garner the same love on Instagram, but hey, what we sacrifice in verticality, we more than make up for in less hot air.

The fully inflated version just isn’t dense enough to satisfy me as a pancake, and mostly makes me want to bake actual soufflés. By the way, no matter what pancake recipe you like best, if it has eggs in it, you can do the same thing with the whites, and it almost always improves the texture.

I joked about putting hot pancakes on cold plates in the video, but in the restaurant business, this is no laughing matter. It’s one way you can tell whether pros or amateurs are running the place. At home, I usually just turn my oven to the lowest setting, and warm the plates in there, ideally next to some bacon.

Running them under hot water also works, as does zapping them in the microwave for 20 seconds. Regardless of the plate’s temperature beneath them, or what you top these with, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 4 large or 6 smaller Soufflé Pancakes:
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
pinch of salt
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon self-rising flour (see note below)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons butter for cooking

Note: 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.
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Loco Moco – Sounds Much Better in Spanish

This amazing Hawaiian comfort food classic is made by topping rice with a fried burger, which is then smothered with a rich, brown gravy, and finished with a fried egg. Seriously, how did it take until 1949 for someone to think of this combination? And, once they did, why exactly did they name it, “crazy mucus,” which is what this actually translates to.

I’ll let you read all about that here, but disturbing names aside, this really is a cheap, filling bowl of goodness, that can be adapted in all sorts of ways. The beef patty is standard, but spam is also used, as is roast pork, and even seafood.

I like the classic burger best, although as I mentioned in video, I do recommend using a thinner patty, around 4 ounces, which will make this easier to eat, as well as provide a better beef-to-rice-to-gravy ratio. I had a pound of meat and decided to make two portions, but in hindsight I should have saved half for something else.

Of course, you’re having a pretty good week when you’re complaining that your burger was too thick for your loco moco. Anyway, I hope you had a great week as well, and that you give this fast, and very satisfying Hawaiian classic a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:
1 teaspoon unsalted butter for cooking the burger
2 ground beef patties (4 to 6 ounces is ideal)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne to taste
2 tablespoons minced green onions (white/light parts)
2 cup cooked white rice
2 fried egg
sliced green onions to garnish

For the gravy:
1 1/2 cups high-quality beef broth
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
few drops of sesame oil, optional
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch (or a little more if you want a thicker sauce)
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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Bacon Wrapped Spring Chicken

I’m running off to a very important meeting, and between getting some notes together, and finding a clean shirt, I don’t have time to write the bacon wrapped Spring chicken post just yet. So, for now you’ll have to settle for the ingredient amounts, and I promise I’ll fill out the rest later. Enjoy! 

Okay, I'm back, and ready to finish off this post. Except, I'm not sure exactly what to add, since the technique is every bit as easy as it appears in the video. The only real point of emphasis is keeping the knife relatively still where it goes into the side of the breast, as you cut a nice big pocket inside. Other than that, just be sure to tuck your bacon ends under the chicken, and you shouldn't have too much trouble. 

You should probably use a thermometer to check the doneness, but a great rule of thumb is when you see and hear juices from the stuffing and chicken start to leak into the pan. I just did a quick lemon deglaze, but time permitting, the browned bits in the pan will make a great pan sauce, like the one we did in this Airline Chicken video. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:

For the stuffing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced green onions (aka spring onions)
2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, grated Gruyere, cheddar, blue, or any other cheese
2 tablespoons freshly chopped green herbs (tarragon, parsley, dill, a little thyme, are all great choice alone or combined) 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 rounded teaspoon fine dry breadcrumbs

For the rest:
2 eight-ounce boneless skinless chicken breast, cut as show
enough salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne to generously season chicken
4 to 6 strips of bacon, or enough to wrap chicken breasts
1 teaspoon oil to grease pan
juice from 1 lemon to deglaze pan drippings

- Roast at 425 F. for about 30 minutes, or until an internal temp of at least 155 F.
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