Thursday, December 24, 2015

Homemade Instant Hot Chocolate Mix – Special Last Minute Edible Christmas Gift Idea!

So, you didn’t exactly get your Christmas shopping done early this year. In fact, it’s Christmas Eve, and you haven’t started yet. Well, you’re in luck, because there’s such a thing as this homemade instant hot chocolate mix. We really shouldn’t be rewarding you for procrastinating, but that’s exactly what we are doing here. 

Not only is this stuff way better tasting, and contains no “how do you pronounce that?” ingredients, but it also takes just seconds to make, and you may already have everything you need in the pantry. Just make sure one of those things is a very high quality cocoa powder.

I’m linking to the same exact Dutch-processed “cocoa rouge" that I used here, so that you can get all the particulars, and hopefully find something very similar. The better the cocoa, the better the hot chocolate. Or is it hot cocoa? Either way.

By the way, this will be the last video of the year, and we’ll be taking a little break until the New Year. Whether it includes homemade hot chocolate or not, I want to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! And, as always, enjoy!


Makes enough for about 20 cups of hot chocolate:
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
pinch of cayenne
- Use 2 tablespoons per cup of hot milk

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Eggnog – Maybe I Do Like It

I’ve never been a big eggnog person, and that’s putting it kindly. It’s too thick, too sweet, and way too artificially nutmegy. I even did an anti-nog tweet recently, just for a few cheap, seasonal laughs, but then I realized I was being unfair to this iconic Christmas drink.

I was basing most of my hating on the stuff in the carton from the supermarket, which features no booze, and a nutrition label you seriously don’t want to read. The homemade stuff I’ve had was significantly better, and so I decided to film this rather easy process, since I get so many requests this time of year.

This recipe does feature raw egg whites, so there’s a very, very tiny chance of a foodborne illness. If you’re concerned, please feel free to use pasteurized eggs, or Google, “how to safely use raw eggs,” or just make something else.

Freshness is the key here. The freshest eggs, milk, and cream you can get, and don’t even think about using pre-ground nutmeg. Maybe this recipe will be the one that finally has you going out to buy that jar of whole nutmeg and grater, but it really is the key. I hope you give this luscious liquid custard a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 6 servings:

For the custard base:
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup white sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
cook to 170-180 F. , then add;
2 to 3 ounces bourbon whiskey
3/4 teaspoon freshly and very finely grated nutmeg

For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon white sugar

- Add meringue to cold custard base, mix, and chill until very cold. Whisk thoroughly before pouring.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sausage Cheese Balls - Rolling into Christmas

What these sausage cheese balls lack in sophistication, they more than make up for with their taste, simplicity, and proven track record for making party-goers happy. No one goes to a holiday party thinking, “I hope they serve sausage cheese balls,” but they all leave very grateful you did.

I’m not sure how these evolved into a Christmas snack, but I bet it has something to do with the fact you can stretch a few pounds of meat and cheese into enough finger food for a large crowd. They can also be made ahead, which helps in the old holiday time management department.

This is a recipe where everyone uses the same basic ingredients, but in wildly different proportions. Look online, and you’ll see versions with half the amount of biscuit mix, as well as ones with three times as much. It all depends on how bready verses cheesy/meaty you want your balls to be.

The bad news is, the only way to figure out your ideal formula is to test multiple versions. This is also the good news. Speaking of formulas, this originally calls for biscuit mix (like Bisquick), but I prefer to use self-rising flour. Besides some added fat, that’s all biscuit mix is, and a little extra cheese more than makes up for any missing shortening.

If you have some biscuit mix in the cupboard, by all means use it, but otherwise I see no need to go out and buy a box. If you don’t have self-rising flour, I’ve given instructions below for how to make your own. I really hope you give these sausage cheese balls a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes about 48 sausage cheese balls:
1 1/4 pounds raw hot Italian pork sausage meat (just remove the casing from uncooked, link-style sausages)
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup finely sliced green onions
1/2 pound shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 cups)
2 cups biscuit mix, or self-rising flour (*see below to make your own)
2 tablespoons milk

- Bake at 450F. for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through (I like to broil for a minute or two for extra color)

* To make your own self-rising flour, sift together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, with 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Home-Cured Holiday Ham – First You Brine, Then You Brag

There are many reasons for making your own holiday ham, but the best one of all, may be the most superficial. After the holidays, as people are standing around the water cooler, bragging how great their glazed carrots were, or how amazing the cranberry sauce came out, you can say, “That sounds great, but did anyone else cure their own ham? I didn’t think so.”

Above and beyond establishing your culinary dominance with friends, the other reasons are pretty good too. You can flavor your ham any way you want; you can somewhat control the salt content; and depending on how many people you need to feed, can cure any size cut of pork you want, from a whole leg to a small loin roast.

There are thousands of different brine and spice combinations, but the procedure is pretty much the same no matter which way you go. However, there is one thing all these recipes have in common, pink salt. To make a true ham, you’re going to need a curing salt that contains sodium nitrite, which is what gives the meat its pink color, and signature “ham” taste, verses something that just tastes like roast pork.

This magical ingredient goes by several names, including Pink Curing Salt #, Insta Cure #1, or the one I used, Prague Powder #1. Yes, you can theoretically use things like celery juice, but long story short, nitrites are nitrites, and it doesn’t matter where they come from. For more info on that, and potential health issues, this article by Michael Ruhlman is a good read.

Once the ham is cured, you’ll want to give it a soak to rinse off the brine, and how long you do this can effect how salty your meat is. I prefer just a quick dunk, but you can leave it for as long as 24 hours, which will produce what I’ll call a low-sodium ham. It’s still pink, and flavorful, but barely salty. Experimentation is the only way to figure out how long to you should go, but I wanted to give you the range.

If you do want a home-cured ham gracing your Christmas table, I’ve given you just enough time to get it done. A local butcher should be happy to give you a few tablespoons of pink salt, otherwise it’s quite easy to find online. Whether it’s for a holiday dinner or not, I really hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
7 to 10 pound fresh, bone-in pork shoulder “picnic” arm roast (or any large hunk of pork)
For the brine (adapted from Ruhlman’s basic ham brine recipe):
6 quarts water
18 ounces kosher salt (this is about 2 1/4 cups Morton's Kosher Salt, or 3 2/3 cups Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, as they have difference size grains)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pink salt #1
1 rounded tbsp pickling spice, or any spices you want

For the optional glaze:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of cayenne
pinch of salt  

- Once cured, you should smoke and/or roast your ham until it reaches an internal temp of at least 145-150 F. 

- For a more detailed video on how I prep a ham for the oven, check out this Crispy Honey-Glazed Ham video.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Baked Stuffed Brie filled with Cranberries & Walnuts – A Better Brie

One of the most common mistakes people make when serving cheese, is not letting it come to room temperature first, so that all the flavors can be fully realized. This beautiful, baked stuffed brie takes that principle to the next level.

I went with a festive, and seasonally appropriate filling of cranberries and walnuts, but I’ve done this with at least a dozen different fillings, so don't be afraid to play around. 

Believe it or not, Michele and I once had a frozen stuffed brie business for a brief time, and supplied them to some of San Francisco’s finest shops. The business was called, “A Better Brie,” and while we moved on to bigger and better things, we had a lot of fun doing them, and they were very well received. Candied pecan was our best seller, with caramelized mushrooms coming in a close second.

What you seen here is exactly how we used to put them together, so if you weren’t around these parts in the early 90’s, here’s your chance to taste what you missed. I really hope you give this baked stuffed brie a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients:
1 small wheel of brie (about 6 to 8 inches is perfect)
handful of dried cranberries, chopped
handful of chopped walnuts
enough puff pastry to cover (1/8-inch thick), plus extra for design
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
-- Freeze for 1 hour, bake at 425F. for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, and the brie is soft.

*By the way, do not skip the freezing for one hour step. The crust needs to bake to a golden brown before the brie starts pouring out, so it must be partially frozen when it goes in the oven. If you happen to make it ahead of time, and put it in the oven frozen solid, then I’d lower the temp to 400, and give it an extra 10 minutes or so, or until the cheese is runny.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Russian Tea Cakes – A Great Holiday Cookie by Any Other Name

As the old joke goes, these Russian tea cakes might not be Russian, but at least they’re not cakes. No one knows exactly how these came to be known as Russian tea cakes, but nevertheless, they are quite delicious, very simple to make, and visually ideal for holiday entertaining.

And when I say “easy,” I mean really easy. You dump everything in a bowl, and mix it with your hands until combined. Professional pastry chefs will lose their minds, since we’re forgoing their precious “cream the butter and sugar” step, but the final product is identical, no matter which technique you use.

The only tricky thing here is the baking time, since there are so many variables. Things like the size of the dough balls, whether you use a silpat or parchment, how light or dark the sheet pan is, etc., can all effect the final time significantly.

I think this cookie tends to get under-cooked, and some recipes call for as little as 12 minutes at 350 F. I like these fairly golden, so I get that nice brown-butter flavor, and that took me about 20 minutes or so, which is why I gave such a wide range. Start checking at 15 minutes, and proceed from there.

Thanks to their snowy appearance, these “cakes” would be perfect for your holiday dessert spread, don’t feel like you have to wait for a wedding, or for some Russians to come over for tea. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes about 28 to 32 Russian Tea Cakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter
1/3 packed cup powdered sugar (plus much more to coat finished cookies)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (very lightly toast nuts in dry pan first for best results)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Roll into just slightly larger than 1-inch balls, bake at 350 F. for 15 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden

Friday, December 4, 2015

Salted Caramel Custard – My Newest Favorite Dessert Ever

Yes, if you asked me right now, this salted caramel custard would be my favorite dessert. These easy “pots de crèmes” are just sweet enough, just salty enough, and just drop-dead gorgeous enough.

I used Maldon sea salt to garnish, which has quite large, but very light crystals, so we’re not adding as much salt as it may appear. Think of a big, fluffy snowflake, floating down onto your warm palm. Stay with me here. As soon as that huge flake lands, it melts into a tiny drop of water. It’s sort of the same thing here.

This recipe will make exactly six (6.5 ounce) ramekins, but you can use any size you want, as long as you monitor the cooking time. Speaking of which, there are many variables effecting how long yours will take, such as ramekin size/shape, and how close they’re packed together, so the times given here are just a guideline.

Simply bake until the custard is just set, and you get that signature “jiggle” when you wiggle. By the way, I wasn’t kidding about eating these cold. I know it’s very hard not to eat a little bit before they’re chilled, but these are so vastly superior in taste and texture when cold, we’re going to need you to be strong. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for six (6.5 ounce) ramekins:
9 large egg yolks
2/3 cup white sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/4 teaspoon fine salt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
flaky sea salt to garnish

- Bake at 300 F. about 45 min to an hour, or until set.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to Make Crepinettes – It’s Insane Not to Use this Membrane

Crepinettes are probably my favorite type of sausage, both to make and eat, and that’s all thanks to caul fat; one of the culinary worlds most interesting and useful ingredients. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most bizarre looking ingredients, and that does scare some people off, which is nothing short of tragic.

The food Gods always reward bravery, and here your prize will be a very moist, and extremely flavorful sausage patty, surrounded by a casing that literally melts into the meat. By the way, things like meatloaf, or even whole roasts, can also benefit greatly by being wrapped up in this magical membrane.

As I recommended in the video, be sure to get coarse ground pork from your butcher. The stuff in the meat case is ground too fine, and also probably too lean. I would say a fat content of about 25 to 30% would be ideal here. And yes, of course other ground meats will work using this same technique.

The same butcher you get the pork from should also be able to hook you up with caul fat, but if for whatever reason they can’t, it’s easy to find online. I think it’s well worth the effort, as anyone who has enjoyed these can attest. I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Crepinettes:
1 1/2 pound coarse ground pork (about 25% fat)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup chopped pistachio
2 tablespoons diced dried apricot
1 rounded teaspoon very finely sliced fresh sage leaves
1/2 pound caul fat (this will be enough for probably 8 crepinettes, with extra to spare)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I wanted to wish you all a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving holiday, and to let you know we’ll be taking a few days off to eat, drink, and rest; but mostly eat and drink.

And when I say “days off,” I really mean days off. As much as I’d love to spend the holiday on my laptop, giving you all last-second cooking tips, I’m contractually obligated to take some time off, and who am I to question HR? Have a great Thanksgiving, and we’ll be back with brand new videos next week. And no, they will not feature turkey or pumpkin. So, stay tuned, and as always, enjoy!

.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crispy Turkey Flautas – A Great Reason for Buying a Too Big Bird

Most normal people cook a bigger turkey than they need, so they can enjoy some leftovers. There’s nothing better than a fresh turkey sandwich, or three, but after a couple days, that bony carcass is that last thing you want to look at; and that’s where these crispy flautas come in.

As I joked about in the video, when it comes to leftovers, the “add cheese and fry” system is a proven crowd pleaser, but to hedge our bets, we’re also topping with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. This creates something so different from the holiday meal that you might forget where the turkey actually came from. Depends on how much you’ve been drinking.

Regarding my comment about pre-grated cheese being coated with saw dust – many people on YouTube thought I was joking, but this really is true. That shredded stuff in the bag is coated in a fine cellulose dust, which prevents the pieces of cheese from clumping together. The good news is, grating cheese only takes a minute, and almost anyone can do it.

And if you don’t have old turkey to make these flautas with, eventually you will have some leftover chicken, which would obviously also work. Either way, I hope you give these delicious, crispy flautas a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 large turkey flautas:
24 small, white corn tortillas
1 egg white to seal flautas, optional
*1 pound cooked, shredded turkey
6 ounces shredded pepper Jack cheese, sharp cheddar, or a combo of the two (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped green onions
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*I’ll assume you’re going to use one of our turkey recipes, so your bird will be super moist, but if it isn’t, you can always add a 1/4 cup of chicken broth to the mixture to compensate.
- Garnish with shaved cabbage, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and freshly chopped cilantro

Friday, November 20, 2015

Turkey & Rice Meatballs (Albondigas) – Perfect for Spanish Thanksgiving

Making delicious meatballs with fatty, flavorful beef is no great feat, but creating something as delectable using ground turkey is another story. As the old joke goes, it may be bland, but at least it’s dry. So, you’re going to need a very specialized strategy, and by “specialized strategy,” I mean some cold, leftover rice.

As these simmer in your sauce or soup, the grains of rice absorb moisture, swell up, and create a relatively tender, moist meatball. Above and beyond that, you’ll also want to look for ground turkey thigh meat (available at most of your higher-priced grocery chains).

By the way, like all meatball/meatloaf recipes, you can test your seasoning by cooking a small piece of the mixture before rolling your ball. Even though the meat hasn’t simmered in the sauce yet, at least you can see if it needs more salt. I’ll just fry up a little patty, and adjust if need be, and suggest you do the same.

I didn’t intend this recipe to be a Thanksgiving dinner alternative, but now that I think about it, these could actually work. Maybe you have a small group, or don’t like looking at a giant carcass on the table (hey, some people are weird like that), or your in-laws are Spanish, and you want to show them you can pronounce “albondigas.”  Whatever the occasion, I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 20-24 small meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey thigh meat
1 packed cup cooked white long grain rice
3 cloves crushed garlic 
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 large egg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sauce (I didn’t measure these ingredients, so these are just guesses)
2 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuscan Bean Soup – Cheer Up!

Our grandparents called them the winter blues, but nowadays we know this condition as Seasonal Affective Disorder; a melancholy scientifically proven to be caused by shorter, darker days. 

Since fall and winter are full of those, we’re going to need some coping strategies, and this hearty Tuscan bean soup is one of the more effective. There’s just something about that combo of smooth, silky soup, and crunchy, crispy croutons that makes everything seem okay. 

Speaking of shorter days, this recipe is also a fantastic base for creating even more substantial weeknight meals. Things like sausage, peppers, and/or maybe a handful of greens, always works in this.

I tried a new method prepping our veggies; pureeing them instead of dicing. I thought this might save time, possibly extract more flavor, and quicken the cooking. Hey, two out of three aren’t bad! It was faster than dicing, and the soup only had to simmer for 15 minutes, but I didn’t think the flavor was quite as good as the classic diced veggies method.

Either way, this soup is delicious, and guaranteed to fog up your kitchen windows. Smiley face sold separately. I really hope you give this Tuscan bean soup a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 servings:
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic
*As stated in the post, I prefer diced veggies to the ground ones I tried in the video, and if you do go for the traditional method and cut your vegetables in small cubes, you'll have to simmer you soup for about 30 minutes, or until they are sweet and very tender.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/2 teaspoon picked thyme leaves
2 (15-oz) cans white kidney beans aka cannellini beans
4 cups chicken broth
1/3 cup crème fraiche or heavy cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
- Garnish with fresh bread cubes fried golden in olive oil, tossed with Parmigiano Reggiano, and fresh Italian parsley.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bacon Cheddar and Spinach Strata – We’re Rocking the Breakfast Casserole

For such a simple dish, I sure have a lot of additional info to cover regarding the construction of this beautiful bacon, cheddar, and spinach strata. First of which, is the somewhat unusual name. Whoever invented this recipe apparently thought it looked like layers of rock, known in geological circles as, “strata.”

I guess it sort of does, and probably would a lot more, if we used a deeper dish, and did more layers. Regardless, even with just one layer of filling in the middle, you’ll still be looking at a gorgeous casserole, which should thoroughly impress your brunch guests…bottomless Mimosas or no.

As I mentioned in the video, if you want something a little eggier, a little more quiche-like, just simply increase the amount of egg custard used. As long as your pan is deep enough, you could as much as double the eggs and cream in this.

Speaking of the cream, this is a very rich dish, so you may want to cut the cream with milk. In fact, many people use all milk for this, but I do enjoy the extra butterfat the cream provides. As usual, let your conscience be your guide.

Above and beyond that, this recipe just begs for personalization. I’m not sure what your favorite omelet ingredients are, but I do know they would work in this, and work really well. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 portions:
1 pound loaf of day old bread, cubed
12 large eggs
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, milk, or any combination thereof
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch nutmeg
1 pound bacon, sliced and cooked crisp
1 pound fresh spinach, wilted, and squeezed dry (or enough thawed, drained frozen spinach to cover one layer)
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided (use 1/2 over the first layer of bread, 1/4 over the spinach, and the last 1/4 over the top layer of bread)
- Bake at 350 F. for 45 minutes or until set. Then broil for a minute or two to brown the top.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sweet Potato Muffins – The Sweet Potato Pie of Muffins

Sometimes you don’t have a good reason for not loving a certain recipe, and that’s how it is for me with sweet potato pie. It just does not do it for me, and I don’t even know what “it” is. However, I thought the same flavors could work for a holiday-inspired sweet potato muffin, and I was thrilled with the results.

These are perfect if you have leftover sweet potatoes during the holidays, but if not, totally worth cooking a few just for this easy recipe. I microwaved mine for about 6 or 7 minutes, until they were very soft, but roasting, or boiling will also work.

By the way, we’re not using sweet potatoes for our sweet potato muffin; we’re using yams, which are actually just incorrectly named orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.  So, I guess never mind.

As I mention in the video, these muffins are just a little bit of frosting away from being cupcakes. I’ve never understood the allure of mini marshmallows on a sweet potato casserole, but something tells me some “fluff” would work well on these, as well. I really hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 24 Sweet Potato Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups mashed sweet potato or “yams”
1 cup chopped pecans, plus more for the top
demerara sugar for the tops

- Bake for 25 minutes at 350 F. or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Crispy Farro Cakes – All Killer, No Filler

I had some crispy farro cakes at a restaurant a while back, and thought they would make for an interesting video, but when I started to research various recipes and techniques, I discovered something a little surprising; there was no such thing as a “pure” farro cake.

Every recipe I came across had some type of filler used to help bind the mixture together. I didn’t really understand this, until I proceeded to make a batch using nothing but cooked and cooled farro. They completely fell apart in the pan, and I ended up with something more like crispy fried rice. Not a bad thing by any means, but not farro cakes.

After a few more experiments, I discovered that by using a little egg, and a touch of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, I was able to make it work with no non-ancient grain additions. The whole key is the crust. By letting the first side cook until a well-browned, crispy surface forms, the cakes develop enough structure to make the flip possible.

One thing I failed to mention in the clip; you should check your mixture for seasoning before frying the cakes. I used a good amount of salt when I cooked my farro, but you should still taste and adjust.

And while these were great with the crème fraiche and golden trout roe, there are so many ways these could be otherwise used. As usual, I’ll be lurking on Twitter and Instagram to see what you come up with, so fair warning. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 6 farro cakes:
1 cup farro, not rinsed
3 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 springs thyme
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
1/2 cup finely diced onion
- simmer covered about 45 minutes until very tender, drain well, but DO NOT rinse

Then add:
1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce (about a 2-inch square piece) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (if you use real Parmigiano Reggiano, and grate it on a microplane, you’ll get about 3/4 of a cup)
1 large egg
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil for frying

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Gingersnap Cookies – Hot, Hot, Sweet

I always tell people I’m not a cookie eater, but I guess that depends on the cookie, since when it comes to these gingersnaps, I can’t get enough. As soon as these cool, I chain-eat them until they’re gone; but that’s not my fault. I blame the amazing spicy-sweet flavor, and irresistible texture.

Speaking of irresistible texture, I’ve got some homework for you. You’re going to have to make batches of these to find out your own optimum baking time. I know, it’s hard work, but you need to somehow find a way. 

Depending on the exact size of your dough balls, and how crispy, or chewy, you want these, the baking times will vary from 10 to 15 minutes. As far as ingredients go, the crystalized ginger is technically optional, but not too hard to find (check the bulk section), and it really gives the cookies that extra kick of ginger flavor and heat. 

Obviously, you can also adjust the spices to suit your tastes, but don’t make these too mild. They’re called “snaps” for reasons other than their texture. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 50 to 60 cookies (depending on size):
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
12 tablespoons room temp unsalted butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
- Bake at 350 F. for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on desired texture.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Waldorf Salad by Any Other Name

As I joked about in the video, a fruit salad has to be pretty damn good to actually get a name, and the venerable Waldorf salad is certainly worthy. 

I realize that there are a small group of you who won’t be able to wrap your heads around mayonnaise with fruit, and that’s a shame, since it means you won’t get to enjoy one of the great combinations of all time. By the way, if you are one of the aforementioned people, but like mayo slathered all over your sandwich, containing slices of sweet, ripe tomato, and caramelized onions, then you have some explaining to do. Also, coleslaw. I rest my case.

Embellish this as you see fit, but I really like it best with just the four ingredients seen here. Things like dried cranberries can add a nice seasonal touch, but for me, the chewy fruit gets in the way of that addictive crunchy/crisp texture. I really hope you give this old-school, but timeless Waldorf salad a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 1 cup dressing (enough for 2 Waldorf salads below):
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream (I used CF)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

For 2 large or 4 appetizer sized Waldorf salads:
2 large crisp, sweet apples, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup small cubed celery root
1 cup quartered seedless grapes
1/2 cup toasted walnuts pieces