Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Baltimore Peach Cake – Infested with Beauty and Deliciousness

I’ve never been to Baltimore, so I can’t comment on the current state of affairs, but what I can tell you is that this easy to make, yeast-based “cake” really is amazing, and would have been even more so with a few minor tweaks. I was afraid of it coming out too dry, so I went with a very wet dough, and also didn’t bake it quite as long as I could have, but these are easy fixes, and my next one should be spot on.

As you saw, I did test with toothpick, as you should, but I made the mistake of sticking it between the peaches and not underneath one. If I had, I would’ve popped it back in for a few more minutes, and it would have been fine. Also, I’ve heard a thinner cake would have also helped the situation, which simply means using a larger baking dish. I went with a 9 x 12, so if you have the more standard 9 x 13, that should work out even better.

They say this recipe was brought to Baltimore by German immigrants, who apparently used to top it with caramelized onions, which on one hand seems like it would work, and yet on the other hand, doesn’t at all. Anyway, maybe one of our more adventurous viewers will give that a whirl, but regardless, I really do hope you give this unique Baltimore Peach Cake a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one 9 x 13 pan:
3 or 4 sweet, ripe peaches
1/3 cup sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup melted butter, for the dough
1 large beaten egg
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon fine salt)
about 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons butter to grease baking dish, and to drizzle the top
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, or any sugar for the top

For the glaze:
1/3 cup peach or apricot preserves or jam, heated up with a splash of water to glaze the top

Friday, July 26, 2019

Fortune Cookies – I See Cookies in Your Future

Don’t make this fortune cookie recipe because it produces a deliciously light, crispy sugar cookie. Make it because you get to fill them with whatever funny, profound, prophetic, and/or ridiculous message you want. Whether it’s sharing a positive prophecy with a friend, proposing marriage, or passive-aggressively letting your roommate know they need to do their dishes, there is nothing quite like a fortune cookie to do the job.

I’m not particularly great at shaping these, but if you can just somehow get them close, once they’re piled on a plate, or in a bowl, they’ll look just fine. The more important thing is making sure you cook them enough; otherwise they won’t be crispy when cooled. The entire cookie should be crispy, so do a few tests, and make sure they’re right. I usually shoot for about a 50-75% brown to golden ratio on the surface.

Wearing gloves when shaping might not be a bad idea, but I guess that depends on how tough your fingertips are. What I’m trying to say is that if you burn yourself, our lawyers will not return your calls. Anyway, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, and you have a relatively painless experience making these fortune cookies very soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 10-12 Fortune Cookies:
1 large egg white
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour, plus more if needed

- Bake at 350 F. for about 10 minutes, or until browned.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Buttermilk Barbecue Chicken – Sorry, Fried Chicken, Your Secret is Out

Buttermilk is a very popular marinade for fried chicken, but for whatever reason, it isn’t often used with other chicken cooking methods. Which is kind of surprising, especially when you taste just how effective it is for something like this beautiful barbecued chicken.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that yogurt, a very similar product, is quite popular in grilled chicken marinades. So, what do people have against buttermilk? I remember my mother-in-law, Peggy, mentioning one time that she hesitates to make recipes that call for it, since she never knows what to do with the leftovers.

I guess people are used to having yogurt around, but apparently they find the thought of a half carton of buttermilk in the fridge a little disconcerting. I have two words for those people…buttermilk biscuits. Also, buttermilk pie. Of course, you could just make a double recipe, and use it all, but the point is, don’t be afraid.

Regardless of whether you’re going to have some leftover, or how you’re going to use it, if you’re looking for an easy, and delicious change-of-pace to the typical barbecue chicken recipes, then I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 portions:
1 whole chicken (about 2 1/2 to 3 lbs.), cut in half as shown
For the marinade:
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Best Beef Tri Tip – This Tip is Tops

I received a food wish for roast beef recently, which can be done with many different cuts, but I ended up deciding on the always amazing beef tri tip, since it’s affordable, flavorful, and using this low-temp roasting technique, nearly fool-proof. Above and beyond the great results, this is also one of the easiest approaches out there.

No marinating, no searing, no nothing; just rub on some salt and spices, and pop it into the oven until it reaches the doneness you want. Of course, you can sear it before roasting, or do a reverse-sear afterward, but even without those optional steps, you’re going to be enjoying a lovely plate of roast beef.

Since we’re using such a low temperature, there isn’t going to be much carry-over heat, so be sure that you reach your target temperature before pulling it out. I went with 128 F., thinking it would climb up to 135-ish, but it never went over 130. That worked for me, since I love medium-rare meat, but if you want something a little more done, maybe pull at 135. Either way, be sure to wrap it, and let it rest for 20 minutes before cutting into some of the juiciest beef you’ve ever had.

This is one of those “professional” cuts of beef that are popular in restaurants, and barbecue joints, but not so much for the home cook. It might be a regional thing, as they are a little more common in California, but I really just think it’s a matter of folks not knowing what a great, and easy cut of beef this is. So, with apologies to all the people that wanted to keep this a secret, I’ll close by saying I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 generous servings:
2 1/2 to 3 pound beef tri tip
For the rub:
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon freshly minced fresh rosemary

- Optional ingredient suggestion: 1/2 cup beef or chicken broth to mix into the salty, but delicious pan drippings.

- Roast at 225 F. for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it reaches 130 F. for medium-rare.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Crispy “Bloomed” Onion – Better Than Bloomin’

This no-fry version of Outback’s famous “Bloomin’ Onion” is way easier to make, way less messy, and yet tastes every bit as good. Maybe better, since every bite is perfectly cooked, and crispy. In fact, this came out so well, I didn’t even think about making a sauce to go with it, although that might be a nice addition.

Over the years, I’ve received many food wishes for a copycat bloomin’ onion video, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. First of all, you need a special cutting device to really get it right, but mostly it’s the deep-frying part that turned me off. This is one of those things that’s easy to make using a giant, restaurant deep fryer, but in the home kitchen setting, not so much. Which is why I loved this approach so much.

We really do get an extremely similar experience here, and the doneness of the onion is almost identical to what comes out of a deep fryer. The “petals” are sweet, and tender, but not soft, as well as each and every one contains the perfect amount of crispy crumbs. I was also going to say this version is way less greasy, but not everyone would consider that an advantage.

Regarding my “onion nachos” comment in the video, I think this recipe would go beautifully with all sorts of additions. Basically, if it’s good with onions, it would be good scattered over the top of this. Either way, whether you make these as shown, or come up with your own variation, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients to make two 10-12 inch round pans:
4 large red onions, quartered, boiled in heavily salted water as shown
For the crumbs:
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup olive oil, plus a drizzle for the top
2 cloves finely crushed garlic
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for the top
chopped parsley to garnish
- To finish, brown under the broiler, or in a 450 F. oven until crispy and heated through

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Peaches and Cream – Literally

This new and “improved” peaches and cream recipe might not have tasted any better than the classic, but at least it was more complicated. Turns out that a splash of cold, fresh cream is all that sweet, ripe peaches need, which is probably why no one ever cooks it first when making this.

It wasn’t like the first version was horrible to eat. It wasn’t, but the cooked, sweetened cream, sort of fought with the peaches, both texturally, and with the natural sweetness of the fruit. The lemon didn’t help things either, but at least I was able to appreciate the real one I made after coming to my senses.

As usual, I’ve listed the amounts I used below, but you should adjust the sugar syrup depending on the sweetness of your peaches. If they’re amazingly sweet and juicy, just slice them, and cream them up. Otherwise, modify as needed, but either way, I really do hope you give peaches and cream, the classic version, a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups sliced fresh peaches
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Summer Sausage – Winter Isn’t Coming

Traditionally, summer sausage is made, and cured in the winter, so that it’s ready to enjoy during the summer, but unless you have some sort of time machine, we’re going to have to settle on this easy, and much faster, shortcut method. Despite only taking a few days, this really is very close in taste and texture to everybody’s favorite gift-basket sausage.

The method is very simple, but just be sure to test for doneness with a thermometer, ideally a probe thermometer, which will alert you when the center of your sausage has reached your target temperature of 150 F. This will ensure we achieve a smooth, salami-like texture.

As far as the taste goes, feel free to spice this anyway you want. With just a little bit of research you could use this simple technique to make many similarly styled sausages, like your own personalized pepperoni, or signature salami. No matter how you flavor this, it will help if you do include a pinch of pink curing salt (aka Insta Cure #1), which you hopefully have leftover from our homemade ham recipe.  

If not, it’s easy to find online, but for the record, the recipe will work without it, just not maybe quite as spectacularly. By the way, if you’re not sure about using nitrites, check out this great article by Michael Ruhlman. Curing salts aside, I really do hope you give this great summer sausage recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for One 2-pound Summer Sausage:
1/4 cup diced celery, minced or smashed into juicy bits
2 pounds freshly ground beef (85/15 lean to fat ratio)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 rounded tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons whole mustard seeds
20 grams kosher salt (2 tablespoons if you use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. This is best done by weight.)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1/4 teaspoon pink curing salt (Insta Cure #1)
1 tablespoon white sugar

For the “smoking” wash:
1 tablespoon liquid smoke mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water

- Cook at 275 F. for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or to an internal temp of 150 F.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Ba’corn Cheese Corn –Korean Bar Food at its Finest

I would not have guessed this bacon-studded “cheese corn” is a popular bar snack in Korea, although it does make sense, since this really would be amazing with a cold beer. I’m guessing that American soldiers might have had something to do with the creation of this amazing amalgamation, but nevertheless, this stuff is pure bacon-y, creamy, cheesy, corny decadence…and this is the light version.

The original recipe uses a combination of mayonnaise and sweetened condensed milk (which I still can’t fully wrap my head around), but we’re going with heavy cream here, for a less sweet, less oily approach. This may be the first time in my career that I’ve “lightened up” a recipe by adding a cup of heavy cream.

I used frozen corn with great success, but if you did want to use fresh corn, be sure to blanch it, or panfry it first, to take off the raw edge. The broiling step really doesn’t cook the casserole, but rather just browns the cheese on top, and so we want everything nicely cooked by that point. Either way, I really do hope you give this delicious, and apparently Korean twist on creamed corn a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one 10-inch skillet:
8 ounces bacon
2 pounds sweet corn, very well drained
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onion, sliced
2 or 3 jalapeno peppers, diced
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces mozzarella cheese
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, or cheddar