Friday, April 28, 2017

Quick and Crispy Home Fries – Or as We Call Them at Home, Fries

It’s a kind of ironic that the only place many people enjoy top-quality home fries is when they eat out at a diner, but sadly that’s the case. Your average home cook’s home fries look great, and we’ll assume taste amazing, but they usually don’t get that nice crispy crust, like the ones at the local greasy spoon.

The reason is simple. There the potatoes are steamed or boiled ahead of time; then cooled, cut, and kept chilled until service. When you pan fry a cold starch, it gets a beautifully crispy surface, which is the secret to the world’s great French fries, polenta sticks, and Korean fried chicken.

To expedite this process, we’re going to microwave the potatoes for a few minutes, until just barely tender. This simulates steaming, which I think is the best way, since boiling can make them waterlogged. Once cool, all you have to do is keep cooking until you’re happy with your crustification. I really hope you give this easy home fry technique  a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large portions:
 3 large russet potatoes, peeled, quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
pinch garlic powder
pinch onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt, freshly ground black pepper, cayenne to taste
fresh chives to garnish are nice

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Calamari Marinara – Would You Like That In 45 Seconds or 45 Minutes?

Calamari is affordable, delicious, and sustainable, yet many cooks shy away from it, since it has a reputation for being tricky to work with. I should’ve said “unfair reputation,” because while it’s true calamari can end up with a rubbery texture if overcooked, there’s a very simple way to avoid this… by really overcooking it.

When it comes to calamari, it needs to be cooked in either 45 seconds, or 45 minutes, and nothing in between. If you sear it in a pan, or poach it in a sauce for a very brief time, you should get something nice and tender. However, after just a few extra minutes, the squid gets chewy.

Unfortunately, this is how most calamari is served, since it is easy to overcook, even for a professional. But, if we gently simmer for about 45-minutes total, something amazing happens. The calamari loses that rubbery texture, and becomes tender once again.

I also think it takes on more a meaty flavor, which I love, especially when using this to sauce pasta. So, if you’ve wanted to try cooking calamari, but were afraid of over-cooking it, I really hope you give this easy sauce a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  yellow onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 anchovy fillet
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Serrano chili pepper sliced thin
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed
1/2 cup drinkable white wine
1 cup clam juice
6 cups crushed or puréed Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds frozen calamari tubes and tentacles, thawed, sliced into half-inch pieces
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, optional
1 pound dry pasta

Friday, April 21, 2017

Grilled Fava Beans – Flavor Flav, Indeed

I bet fava beans would be a lot more popular if people knew how to cook them, or even what they were. For many people, these are just those mysterious, semi-scary, oversized green beans that they’re not sure what to do with.

Which is a shame, since they’re not only delicious, and easy to prepare, but also very versatile. Fava beans shine in salads, and pastas, as well as on pizzas.  The also, as I demonstrated the end of the video, make for a wonderful spread.

By the way, the ingredient amounts below are pure guesses, since this is not the kind of recipe we're going to measure stuff for. Let your conscience be your guide, but remember what we're eating is inside that charred pod, so season generously.

Fava beans should be readily available this time of year, especially at farmers markets, where they tend to be much cheaper that your high-end grocery stores. Regardless of where you find them, I really do hope you give this great bean, and even better technique a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
2 pounds whole fava beans
olive oil, as needed
2 lemons
1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
3 whole, peeled, bruised garlic cloves
red pepper flakes to taste
2 tablespoons freshly sliced mint leaves

- Grill over high heat for about five minutes per side, or until the pods are soft and charred, and the beans inside are just tender.

WARNING: Some people have an allergy to fava beans. Make sure you don't.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hilah’s Happy Hour featuring Chef John’s First Podcast

That’s right, I did a podcast! Which, come to find out, is a great way to learn what those are. It’s basically like listening to the radio, only more complicated. Anyway, I appeared on Hilah’s Happy Hour, with the lovely and talented Hilah Johnson.

As you’ll hear, she does most of the heavy lifting in this free-flowing interview, but you'll also get a few behind-the-scenes tidbits from me, as well. I had a lot of fun doing it, and invite you to follow this link to check it out on her blog, as well as check out her highly entertaining recipe videos. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Spicy Thai Basil Chicken – My Pad Krapow Gai

I don’t cook Thai food at home often, mostly because there are at least a dozen such restaurants within walking distance, but when I do, there’s nothing I enjoy more than this spicy Thai basil chicken. Thai basil sold separately. 

No, I didn’t use the real “Holy” basil, but even with regular basil, this simple recipe is spectacular. Aromatic basil is the perfect herb for pairing with the slightly sweet, sort of salty, and possibly spicy, chopped meat.

And yes, you really do want to chop, or grind your own chicken. Even if the worst-case scenario I shared in the video isn’t something you’re grocery store would do, it’s still very nice to know exactly what you’re eating, as well as being able to chop it as coarsely as you want.

If you decide to top with an egg, I should mention that they’re usually fried much more aggressively, with the edges getting brown and crispy. I tend to prefer something a little more gently cooked, but either way, or with none at all, I really do hope you give this delicious basil chicken recipe a try soon.  Enjoy!


Ingredients for two large or four smaller portions:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound freshly chopped chicken thighs
1/4 cup sliced shallots
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced Thai chilies, Serrano, or other hot pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce, or as needed
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 bunch basil leaves, sliced very thin with a sharp knife (about a cup once sliced)

Friday, April 14, 2017

The French Omelette – Soft, Shiny, and Superior

There is no more terrifying experience at culinary school than the French omelette exam. With your classmates rooting you on, and chef instructors watching intently, you head to the stove, with little more than three eggs, and a little butter…okay, a lot of butter…but that’s it.

It’s just you and the ingredients, with no way to fake perfection. A French omelette, or omelet, as we Americans call it, is 10% ingredients, and 90% technique. The good news is, the technique is really simple. The bad news is, it takes a little practice to perfect. But, after making a few hundred of these, you could probably do this half asleep, which is how many brunch cooks actually do it. Just be sure to start the folding as soon as the surface is wet, but not runny.

Feel free to stuff this with your favorite fillings, before folding up, but if you’ve never had one of these before, I highly recommend making one as shown. You’ll be amazed at just how delicious these few ingredients can be, when elevated using this method. Either way, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one omelette:
3 large farm-fresh eggs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cold water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 for the pan, and 1/2 for when it’s done)
cayenne or white pepper to taste, optional

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hot Cross Buns – Mother Goose Would Love These

Pretty much all I know about hot cross buns, I learned from the nursery rhyme, but thanks to a recipe I found on Anson Mills, I was still able to make a fairly decent batch. Including real crosses, not to be confused with dinner rolls on which an icing cross has been piped.

In addition to its eye-catching appearance, the dough-based “cross” provides an interesting textual contrast, as it gets sort of chewy, and crispy edged.

Like I said in the video, any sweet dough will work with this easy technique, especially rich, and fragrant examples, like our Italian Easter Bread dough. Times may vary, but regardless of the dough, simply wait for the dough to double in size, and proceed.

If you want to get all your buns the same size, weight your dough in grams before dividing, and then divide by 16. Then, weight each of your dough balls to that exact amount, and boom, your tray of buns will look like the ones you saw on that magazine cover. Or, just eyeball it and take your chances. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 15 or 16 Hot Cross Buns:
Recipe slightly adapted from this one from Anson Mills
1/4 cup currants, soaked in hot rum for an hour or two
3/4 cup milk warmed to 100 F.
1 package dry active yeast
1 tablespoon each orange and lemon zest
7 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3 cups bread *flour, plus more if needed

* hold back a little of the flour until you sure you need it. You can always add, but can’t remove!

For the crosses:
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more to make a thin, pipe-able dough

- Bake at 425 F. for about 15 minutes

For the glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
- Cook syrup to 225 F., and brush over warm

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fresh Strawberry Jam – Because Man Cannot Live on Clotted Cream Alone

Actually, I don’t think you can live on just clotted cream and fruit preserves either, but regardless, as promised, here’s my preferred method for making strawberry jam. While amazingly delicious, and quite satisfying to make, I’ll have to put this on the same list as homemade ketchup. This is fun to make once in a while, but due to the effort, and time involved, Smuckers has nothing to worry about.

This version features a lot less sugar than many recipes, which is kind of crazy, since we use over two cups, as well as a homemade pectin puree, to help tighten-up the texture. Feel free to use pectin powder or liquid instead, but I think I did a pretty good job explaining why I don’t in the video.

Strawberries should be sweet, and plentiful this time year, so if you’re looking for a fun project, especially if your last fun project was making clotted cream, I really hope you give this delicious, fresh strawberry jam a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 3 cups of Strawberry Jam:
For the pectin puree:
3 apples, chopped
1 lemon, chopped
1 cup water
For the jam:
3 pounds strawberries, rinsed, and trimmed
1 1/2 cups (or whatever you got) pectin puree
2 1/4 cups white sugar, added in two additions
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Please Note: To test without a thermometer, wait until the jam starts to reduce and thicken, and spoon some of the mixture on a plate, and place in the freezer for a few minutes, until the jam is cold. If it's jelled, you're done. If it's still runny, keep cooking, and testing. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Name's Cream...Clotted Cream

If you invented a cream preparation so incredibly delicious that you couldn’t bear the thought of anyone besides you, and the other dairy farmers in the area enjoying it, adding the word “clotted” to the name is a pretty sound strategy.

While the name doesn’t exactly make the mouth water, the flavor and texture are the stuff of legends. The long, slow cooking sort of toasts the cream, which imparts a sweet, nuttiness that I don’t think I’ve tasted in any other preparation.

Most modern ovens go down as low as 175-180 F., which is ideal for this technique. 200 F. will work, but maybe check after 10 hours, and see how things look. The other huge factor here is the cream. Be sure to get the best you can. It should be from grass-fed cows, and have a fat content of between 36-40%.

Avoid anything that says “Ultra-Pasteurized,” since it’s been heat-treated, and you’ll not get the same results. Other than this taking a day or two, the technique could not be easier, and I wasn’t exaggerating when I said it’s one of the most amazing things ever. I really do hope you give this a try soon.  Enjoy!


Ingredients:
4 cups heavy cream
8 x 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish
- Bake at 175-180 F. for 12 hours. Chill overnight before separating the “clots.” Use the reserved liquid for baking biscuits.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thai-Dipped Beef Tri Tip – Satay, Unskewered

There are so many examples of big foods being re-imagined into smaller, bite-sized versions, but going the other direction is not nearly as common. That's what I was attempting to do with this satay-inspired, Thai-dipped beef tri tip.

I enjoy beef satay way more than I do skewering small pieces of beef. Besides, I’ve never made satay, and not stuck a bamboo skewer into my finger at some point in the process. And not only did this involve less labor, but you can cook this in any number of ways.

I decided to go low and slow, over indirect charcoal heat, until I reached an internal temperature of 132 F.  If you’re in more of a hurry, you can cook tri tip over higher heat, and it’s perfectly fine, as long as it doesn’t overcook. You can also roast this in the oven at 325 F., just in case a thunderstorm tries to mess up your plans.

All the ingredients here are easy to find, with the possible exception of lemongrass. Most big city grocery stores carry it, but in other parts of the country, I’ve seen it sold as a tubed puree, displayed in the produce department. If you can’t find it, you can add some lemon juice and zest to adjust. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one beef tri tip roast:
2 1/2 pound trimmed beef tri tip top roast
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup chopped lemon grass (peel off woodiest parts, pound with back of knife, then chop)
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons grated raw onion
1/3 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

- Grill, smoke, or roast to an internal temp of 130 to 135 F.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Again?

When Food Wishes was first getting started, and funds were scarce, I did some freelance video production for various outlets, and apparently lemon ricotta pancakes was one such recipe. I know this because I got a request for ricotta pancakes recently, and when I tried to refer them to the blog link, I realized there wasn’t one.

I’m looking at you, About.com. Anyway, as it turns out, this is a new and possibly improved recipe, featuring…water? Yes, I tried this recipe once, with water instead of milk, and I actually liked it more. Or I thought I did, which is really all that matters.

Most lemon ricotta pancake recipes call for the eggs to be separated, and the whites whipped to give the pancakes more “lift.” Feel free, but if these pancakes were any lighter, they’d float off the plate. Speaking of lightness, I prefer using self-rising flour for this, but if you can’t, I’ve explained below how to make your own. Either way, I really do hope you give these delicious lemon ricotta pancakes a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 2 large or 4 small portions:
3/4 cold water, or milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon lemon zest (just the yellow part of the skin)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons *self-rising flour, or as needed to achieve very thick batter

* 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.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chef John is Taking a Break!

Just wanted to let everyone know I’ll be on vacation this week. I'd call it a "Spring Break," except that makes it sound like I'm going to be chugging beer through a funnel, half-naked, while listening to Flo Rida, which is not accurate. 

I'll actually be sipping beer, half-naked, while listening to Flo Rida. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a the break, and suggest you use the time to catch up on videos you’ve missed. We have so, so many. Thank you, and we’ll see you next week!
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Grilled Greek Chicken – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Erin go what? On the surface, this may seem like an inappropriate St. Patrick’s Day recipe post, but I’ve always considered this holiday one of the official signs of spring, and since that means it’s grilling season, then maybe this is appropriate after all? Yes, I went a long way for that.

As I mentioned in the video, the secret to this simple chicken is a very powerful marinade. This is one of those rare recipes where, when in doubt, we add a little more. Above and beyond that, the only way to ruin this would be to singe the skin/marinade with too high, direct heat.

We really want to sort of roast these pieces on the grill. So, don’t build a huge fire, and wait for it to turn ashy, before using semi-indirect heat to slowly cook the meat through. This way we get a tender inside, as well as and a gorgeous, caramelized exterior.

This is so flavorful that you really don’t need a sauce, but some fresh lemon is nice, as is a spicy yogurt. Just squeeze a little lemon into some nice thick, Greek yogurt, spike it with hot sauce, and you have a perfect condiment. And speaking of St. Patrick’s Day, this stuff pairs wonderfully with beer. I really hope you give this grilled Greek chicken recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


For enough marinade for 6 chicken thigh/leg sections:
6 to 8 cloves garlic, totally crushed or very finely minced
2 tablespoons dried oregano and/or marjoram
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 generous teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1/4 olive oil
about 1 tablespoon kosher salt to season chicken

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eggplant “Bacon” – Because Fake Bacon is Better than Real Eggplant

I love that my wife, Michele, follows Questlove on social media, but not just because it makes me feel cooler by extension, which it does, but also because he’s a huge foodie, and this enticing eggplant “bacon” came from his Instagram.

Links were followed, and I discovered the recipe was from Minimalist Baker, and although I did tweak the technique and ingredient amounts a bit, the recipe is basically thieved from this gorgeous blog post. Thank you, Dana! By the way, there they were brushed, but I decided to dip. Because my slices may have been wetter, they did take way longer to cook.

Personal taste being what it is, you’ll have to experiment with not only your sweet-salty-smoky ingredient ratios, but also with how thick you cut your eggplant, as well as how long you cook it. I went for thin and crispy, but it was closer to a bbq potato chip in taste/texture than bacon. I may slice it thicker next time, and see if I can get some chewy bits, woven through the crispy bits.

These would make for some tasty vegetable chips, but were especially enjoyable in a BLT, which I inexplicably didn’t photo. I blame low blood sugar. Regardless of how you enjoy them, I really do hope you give this eggplant “bacon” a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes enough “bacon brine” for 2 medium-sized eggplants:
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons tamari, or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, depending on strength
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, a little coarser than usual
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggplants, sliced to about 1/8th inch

The original recipe calls for a 225 F. oven, but I would probably start this like I finished it, and that’s in a 250 F. oven. I’d plan on at least an hour baking time, but that will depend on thickness, pans, etc. Simply cook until they are how you want.

Friday, March 10, 2017

"Norcal" Nicoise Salad – Layered for Your Pleasure

I know I’ve made fun of salads served in Mason jars before, but when I was asked to contribute a layered Nicoise to an Allrecipes Easter feature, I immediately thought of this tragically hip presentation. Also, I didn’t have a straight-sided, see-through glass bowl to do the layered salad in.

I love a good Nicoise, and it’s perfect for layering, especially if you slice/chop up the ingredients first. Not only will your layers be easier to keep straight, but chopped salads are always a pleasure to toss with dressing. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed this avocado spiked French-style vinaigrette, and it paired perfectly with the rich, fatty, olive oil-packed tuna. 

Look for something from Spain or Italy, and you will be impressed with how much nicer it is than the stuff Charlie and his buddies are pushing. So, whether you composed this on a plate, in the classic fashion, or follow my lead, and create the world’s trendiest Nicoise, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for Nicoise (amounts are up to you)
3-4 ounces per person olive-oil packed tuna
tender green beans
Yukon gold potatoes
cherry tomatoes
hard boiled eggs
Nicoise olives, or other pitted olives
parsley and/or chives
anchovy fillets, optional

Ingredients for the dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 anchovy fillets
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup ripe avocado
1/3 cup olive oil, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
water as needed to adjust texture
salt to taste

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Irish Cheddar Spring Onion Biscuits - They Only Sound Irish

I’ve received many food wishes for cheddar biscuits over the years, which I used to think was odd, until I learned about a certain version served in America’s most famous chain of lobster restaurants. I eventually got to try this casual dining delicacy, and while it really wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t great either, and I pledged to take the idea, and create a new and improved cheddar biscuit. That was like five years ago.

So, why all of a sudden the newfound interest? Two simple reasons. First, I had some gorgeous Irish cheddar in the fridge. Secondly, it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and the search engines demand something Irish, or at least something that sounds Irish. So, I combined those two facts, and decided it was time to make cheddar biscuits that would rival those at the aforementioned crustacean sensation. I know, a very high bar.

All kidding aside, these really did come out quite well, and I think that’s because we didn’t just mix the cheese into the dough. By layering and folding the cheese in, a la puff pastry, we get all the cheesy flavor, without making the biscuit too dense. Sure takes a few extra minutes, but I thought it was worth the effort. So, whether you’re going to make these for St. Patrick’s Day, or not, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 Irish Cheddar Spring Onion Biscuits:
*2 cups self-rising flour, plus more if needed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons very cold butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup shredded Irish cheddar, or other sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions (I used mostly the tender, light green parts)
-Bake at 400 F. for about 20 minutes

* To make your own self-rising flour for this recipe, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Baked Cauliflower Fries – How Not to Make Baked Cauliflower Fries

I won’t add insult to injury writing a long blog post about how disappointing this recipe was. The video pretty much says it all. And while I can’t honestly say I hope you try this yourself, a small part of me secretly hopes you do.

Not that I want you to experience the misery that was this recipe, but rather because maybe you’ll think of a way to actually pull this off. The taste was fine. Maybe even better than fine, but the texture was a huge letdown. You can’t win them all. Enjoy?


Ingredients for about 24 crappy cauliflower “fries:”
2 head cauliflower (about 5 pounds total), cut into florets
1 tablespoon kosher salt
- You should end up with about 3 1/2 cups of cooked, squeezed-dry cauliflower
To the cauliflower add…
2 large eggs
4 ounce (about 1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
1 ounce (1/4 cup packed) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 cloves peeled garlic, crushed fine
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon olive oil
more cheese to dust top

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Classic Rice Pudding – Word on the Street Is

It’s not every day you find yourself walking next to someone on the street, who’s eating from a ridiculously large tub of rice pudding. Well, that’s exactly what happened to me the other day, and it served as a reminder for what a great, and comforting dessert rice pudding really is. 

For whatever reason, it’s usually not near the top when people list their favorite desserts, but despite that, it’s a proven crowd-pleaser, and quite easy to make, especially using this simplified, one-pot method.

Most recipes have you make the pudding in a clean pot, since, I’m assuming, they’re afraid the starch at the bottom of the pan used to cook the rice will burn. And, it probably would, unless you deglaze the bottom with cold milk before turning the heat back on. Not only will this simple step prevent the pudding from scorching, but also I think we get a little bit of extra toasted rice flavor. I also prefer an egg yolk to a whole egg, but regardless, be sure to whisk it in fast and furious, or they might scramble.

If you’re scared, you can temper the egg by mixing in a few spoons of the hot rice mixture, before blending in, but as I’ve said before, there’s nothing wrong with a little adrenalin-inducing danger in the kitchen. So, no matter what you garnish it with, or whether you eat it inside, or crossing Dolores Street, I really hope you give this a try soon.  Enjoy!  
   

Makes 4 Portions Rice Puddings:
1/2 cup uncooked white long-grain rice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/3 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cold butter
2 tablespoons dried cherries, chopped

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Prawn Provencale – Eating the 80’s

I’m not sure these are actually prawns, and I’ve never been to Provence, but this great appetizer was called Prawn Provencale when I learned it working for a caterer, back in the 80’s. It was a crazy time, or so I’m told, and this delicious garlic and herb shrimp pop is one of the more vivid memories I have.

It does take some time to butterfly the prawns, but as I mentioned in the video, everything can be done ahead of time, including the crumbing. Just pan them up, and bake them off, once your guests arrive. Preferably in waves, so they can be enjoyed warm.

In case you’re wondering, while biologically different, culinarily speaking, shrimp and prawns are the same thing. I used to know the difference a long time ago, like in the 80’s, but my brain must’ve erased it for more storage space.

One major tip here is to be sure and season your breadcrumb mixture very well. You can season the shrimp also, but I don’t, and instead make sure the mixture has plenty of everything. Once they’re baked, you can serve with any number of dips, or just some fresh lemon. So, whether you’re making these for a party or not, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 pounds shrimp (about 32 pieces)
2 pounds shrimp (16-20 per pound), butterflied
olive oil for brushing pan

For the breadcrumb mixture:
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed fine with dried herbs and salt)
kosher salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/3 cup Italian parsley
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
cayenne to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, or as needed

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Picadillo – Close, But No Cigar

I’m not sure if you’ve had picadillo before, but I’m very sure you’ve almost had it before. This Cuban creation is one of the world’s great ground meat dishes, and fairly similar to sloppy Joes, as well as bean-less chili, or as a chili connoisseur would call it, “chili." 

I went with beef here, but pork can be added, as well as chorizo. Often fillers like diced potato and squash are added, but since I serve this over rice, I typically don’t include those. I used to be more into hot, starch-on-starch action when I was younger, but these days, not so much.

As I mentioned in the video, many consider the olives optional, but for me, they’re one of the keys to the dish. Those briny bites reset your palate as you eat, which makes every bite seem like the first. Having said that, not everyone does olives, but I still really hope you give it a try soon – with capers. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (85/15 lean/fat)
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 cups crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup currants or raisins
1/2 cup sliced green olives, or to taste