Friday, September 27, 2019

Lazy Pork Dumplings – Now with 100% Less Pleating

What started as an attempt to streamline the fabrication of pork dumplings, ended as a pretty decent shortcut version for making Xiao Long Bao. If you’ve ever had soup dumplings, you know there’s nothing quite like them. The way the rich, meaty juices gush out when you bite in, is one of the world’s great eating experiences, and while these don’t provide quite the same sensation, if served in a broth, they’re close enough for me.

Even if you don’t serve them in a soup, this much quicker, and casual production method will work just as well, whether they get steamed, boiled, or fried. And don’t feel like you have to stay with the Asian theme here. I’m really hoping someone does an Italian twist, using some type of meat-based ravioli filling.

If you’re going to freeze these for future use, be sure to do that while they’re sitting on a lightly floured tray. Then, once frozen, you can transfer them into zip-top bags. If you try to bag them, and then freeze, you may go back to having one giant dumpling.  Anyway, whether you’re planning on eating these now, or later, or both, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 32 Lazy Pork Dumplings (4 servings):

For the filling:
1 pound ground pork
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon very finely minced or grated ginger
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup sliced chives
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Korean chili flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the broth (1 cup broth per serving):
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon Korean chili flakes

For the dough (enough to wrap 2 batches of dumplings):
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Yorkshire Pudding – Don’t Call it a Popover

If you’re going to be slightly underwhelmed by the dry-aged Prime Rib you waited 42 days to roast and eat, you might as well whip up some Yorkshire puddings with the rendered fat, to help make up for it. That’s the classic fat in which to make these puffy pastries, and while any high-temp oil will work, there’s nothing quite like actual beef drippings, and without it, you’re just eating a popover.

Of course, every time I make these, I can’t help but wish I could experience them in their original form. As legend has it, these were cooked in a pan of fat, situated at the bottom of a hearth, underneath a large piece of roasting beef. The smoky heat from the fire, along with all the other goodness dripping into the pan from the meat, must have made for quite the memorable treat. Which is a good thing, since for most of the people hanging out around the roast, that’s all they probably got to eat.

If you happen to make the larger ones, using a popover pan, you’ll need to cook them at 375 F. for a little longer time. Maybe 10 minutes more at least, but don’t go by time. We basically want these as browned and puffy as possible, so leave them in as long as you feel is safe. No matter how big you make these, or what you fill the leftover ones with, I really hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 small or 6 large Yorkshire Puddings:
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
7/8 cup all-purpose flour (almost a cup)
1 cup whole milk
about 3/4 cup melted beef fat
- heat oil at 400 F. for 10-15 minutes, then fill and bake for 25 minutes more, or until browned and fully puffed. If doing the larger ones in a popover pan, bake at 375 F. for about 7-10 minutes longer.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Dry-Aged Prime Rib – I Waited 42 Days to Be Confused

If you’re thinking of dry-aging your very own Prime Rib of Beef for the holidays, then you really need to watch this video. You might learn a thing or two, and there’s even a chance you’ll still want to do it. By the way, I’m not trying to discourage you, since it is a fun, and fascinating foodie project, which does produce a delicious, juicy, and tender Prime Rib, but if you’re after “that funk,” then like me, you may be a little disappointed.

I’ve dry-aged meat before, but never longer than a week or so, and after doing lots of research (mostly on Serious Eats), I knew I’d have to go at least 30 days to enjoy any kind of noticeable change in favor. So I decided to go well past that, and ended up aging it for 42 days before it went into the oven. It looked great, and it smelled great, but ultimately it did not have the level of funky fermented goodness I was after.

I’m not sure if I needed to go even longer, or my garage fridge is lacking in desirable bacteria, or my saltwater wipe-down sterilized the surface, but whatever the reason, I was left with nothing more than an amazingly juicy, tender, and delicious Prime Rib. That’s not something you’d normally complain about, but after waiting 6 weeks, I wanted more.

So, if you have any advice or theories as to what happened, or didn’t happen, please pass them along. I’m assuming a few of you brave souls will give this a go, and if you do, I’d love to hear about your experience. In the meantime, I’m going to make an extra funky blue cheese butter to serve with the leftovers, and pretend. Enjoy!

1 Bone in Prime Rib (mine was 10 pounds, 8 1/4 after aging)
enough salt to season generously
For the salt wipe:
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Roast at 500 F. for 20 minutes, then reduce to 300 F. (or lower), and continue until you reach your desired doneness. I usually pull at 122-125 F. to get something close to a medium rare after resting.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast – It’s all About the Nut Glue

I almost never order a nut-crusted entrée in a restaurant, since they usually use a sugary glaze to hold them on, and/or feature a too sweet nut, like pecan, or macadamia. That’s not an issue here; since we’re going with buttery, subtly bitter walnuts, held on with a very savory “nut glue,” made with a garlic and mustard base.

I like this approach so much better, especially since it allows me to do a little bit of a sweet pan sauce, featuring honey, which is a classic pairing with both walnuts and mustard. Above and beyond the ingredients in your nut crust, the protection this layer of deliciousness provides can actually make a boneless, skinless chicken breast seem like it was just carved off a freshly roasted carcass. As long as you don’t overcook it, that is.

I caused a little stir on Twitter yesterday, when I said (in so many words) that you don’t need to cook chicken breast to 165 F. internal temperatures, as the FDA would like you too. I said, accurately I believe, that 150 F. is plenty hot enough, as long as it holds the temperature for at least five minutes. I think it’s so much better that way, but I’ll leave that up to you, and your probe thermometer. Regardless of how long you cook it, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Servings:
For the “nut glue:”
4-6 cloves finely crushed garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
For the rest:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
For the pan sauce:
all the pan drippings
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey

- Roast for 25 minutes at 375 F., or until an internal temp of 150 F.

Friday, September 13, 2019

5-Minute Fisherman’s Stew – Give or Take

Of course this Fisherman’s Stew takes more than five minutes to make, and I’m actually referring to the approximate cooking time once the seafood hits the pan, but as they say, it’s only false advertising if someone else does it. Besides, one taste and I’m sure you’ll forgive any temporal exaggerations. If, that is, you use really great seafood.

A recipe this simple has many advantages. It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t require a ton of prep, but the downside is, there’s nowhere to hide sub-par ingredients. So, unless you’re going to splurge on the freshest, sweetest, most pristine seafood you can find, you may want to look for another recipe.

Above and beyond that very critical directive, you’ll also want to be sure your brothy base is aggressively seasoned before you toss your seafood in. Since we don’t season the fish and shellfish directly, we need to make sure we have enough salt, and whatever else you’re using, to go around. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and assuming there’s some crusty bread nearby, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Portions:

For the brothy base:
1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes (if your tomatoes aren't nice and sweet, toss in a teaspoon of sugar)
2 cups fish stock, clam juice, or if time are tough, water
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste

For the rest of the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 very thinly sliced fennel bulb
salt to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
8 ounces firm white fish, like halibut or sea bass, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
8 peeled and deveined raw shrimp
8 ounces cleaned, ready to cook calamari
12 mussels, scrubbed clean
12 clams, scrubbed clean
some crusty bread

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Pear Clafoutis – Almost as Good as it Looks

It sounds odd to say that a recipe’s biggest problem is that it looks too good, but that’s sort of the case with this pear clafoutis. Through no fault of its own, this crust-less, custard fruit tart looks a lot sweeter, and richer than it actually is. So, please be sure to adjust yours and your guest’s taste buds accordingly. Of course, you can make this sweeter, with more sugar, or richer, with some cream instead of all milk, but there’s something to be said for those rare recipes that I would describe as, “just sweet enough.”

Which reminds me, be sure to taste whatever fruit you’re using for sweetness, since you may want to adjust the sugar level based on that. Another key, especially if you’re using pears, or apples, is to make sure you slice them thin; otherwise they will not cook through by the time your custard is cooked.

As I mentioned you could cook the fruit first, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you use the traditional cherries, or something like tender juicy berries, this will actually cook faster than the time is given here, so I’d start checking for doneness after about 25 to 30 minutes. Speaking of different fruits, apparently if we don’t use cherries, this is referred to as a “flognarde,” which I’ll never get tired of saying. Hilarious names aside, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 portions:
(The baking dish I used was 10-inch wide)
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, divided (one for pan , one for top)
3 generous cups thinly sliced sweet, ripe pears
1/2 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
For the batter:
3 large eggs
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar depending on fruit’s sweetness
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

- Bake at 350 F. for about 45 minutes, or until fruit is soft, and custard is cooked.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Bloody Mary Burrata – An Experiment in Liquefying Salads

I don’t think there’s actually a difference between a liquid salad, and a cold vegetable soup, but if there is, I’d like this Bloody Mary Burrata recipe to be considered the former. Especially since I already posted a gazpacho this summer. But regardless of what you call this strange hybrid, it really was delicious, fun to eat, and very refreshing.

I was recently gifted some homemade Bloody Mary mix by a couple of new friends, Clayton and Linda-Marie, which unfortunately I haven’t been able to enjoy yet. However, the combination of seeing that on the counter, along with a tub of burrata cheese in the fridge, led to this rather odd attempt. While the Bloody Mary part of the equation completely dominated the tomato and mozzarella salad element, I still found this thoroughly enjoyable to eat, which at the end of the day, is all that matters.

I’m not exactly sure how best to serve this, but a small portion as a starter would seem to make the most sense. Or, maybe a larger serving, paired with a crusty hunk of bread as a brunch item. Vodka sold separately. So, whether you’re going to take this idea and run with it, or you’re just going to do the first part, and make some real Bloody Marys, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions of Blood Mary Burrata:
2 pounds fresh vine-ripened tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced hot or mild red peppers
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 cup water
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoons hot prepared horseradish, or to taste
2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

For Service:
1 cup Blood Mary Burrata base
2 ounces burrata cheese, or fresh mozzarella
sliced olives, celery, and cherry tomatoes to garnish
freshly grated horseradish root for the top
freshly ground black pepper and olive oil to finish, optional

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Crispy Butcher’s Nuggets – Parts is Parts

While our homemade butcher’s nuggets won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts as the butcher shop, at least they won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts. Seriously, those folks will put anything into a sausage or meatball. All kidding aside, these crispy fried meatballs will have you wondering why non-chicken nuggets aren’t more popular.

I went with a fairly restrained combo of just beef and lamb, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little more adventurous. Using pork is an obvious choice, and as I mentioned in the video, I think chicken livers would be amazing in this. Above and beyond the meat choices, you also have lots of artistic freedom when it comes to the shape, and what dipping sauce you pair them with.

At Fern Bar in Sebastopol, where I stole the idea, they’ll switch up the ingredients depending on what’s around, as well as change the sauce underneath, although it’s almost always something a little bit on the sweet side. Of course, our “secret sauce” (shhhhhh) goes with everything, but deciding how to tweak that to match your meats is half the fun. The rest of the fun is eating these butcher’s nuggets, and lots of them, which I hope you do very soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 18 to 20 Butcher’s Nuggets:
Note: the scoop I used to portion holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture.

For the nuggets:
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup milk
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground beef

For the breading (amounts as needed):
all-purpose flour
beaten eggs (I used 2 large eggs)
panko breadcrumbs

For the secret sauce:
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle

- Fry nuggets at 375 F. for about 3 minutes, then let rest 3 minutes before serving.