Wednesday, December 28, 2016

“New Year’s Baby” Porchetta – Here’s to Being Happy, But Not Satisfied in 2017!

Since I’m not really working, I’ll keep this “baby porchetta” post short and sweet, and simply let you refer to the video for all the important stuff. Like how amazing this tasted; and how impossibly moist and tender it was.

Notwithstanding some overlapped bacon (which I’ll do in a single layer, in maybe a hotter oven next time), I loved how this came out! I’m not sure if it will bring you prosperity in the New Year, but this is so good, who cares?

I want to wish you all a very healthy, and bountiful, 2017! Happy New Year, and, as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
1 boneless pork tenderloin roast, about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds
about 8 strips bacon or enough to wrap
For the spice rub:
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
3 cloves sliced garlic
1 tablespoon finely sliced sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
zest from one lemon
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil

- Roast at 450 F. about 25 minutes, or until 134 F. internal temp, which should get you a finished, rested temp of 140-145 F.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Oops! And, Happy Holidays!

Better late than never! Yes, this post was supposed to be done on Monday, letting you all know I was off this week for Christmas break; but apparently with all the drinking, eating, shopping, and drinking, it never got done.

So, just to make it official, I was off this week, and technically next week, since is on break until the New Year. However, I will be posting one last video for 2016, after the holiday, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday, and, as always, enjoy! 


Friday, December 16, 2016

Deviled Lobster Tails – There's Something in the Details

I never blame people for not wanting to work with fresh lobsters, but when it comes to lobster tails, there is no excuse. Well, I guess the enormous price tag is also an excuse, but other than that, no excuse. 

Speaking of price tags, since the recipe is so straightforward, I’ll spend the rest of the post ranting about pre-thawed lobster at the market. When buying your tails, ask the person working the fish department to go into the freezer, and get you ones that are still frozen. Lobster tails are always flash frozen shortly after being caught, and sent to the grocery store in this state, which is how they should be sold, except they’re not. 

What the grocery store does is thaw them, and pile them in the fish case, so you think a big batch of fresh lobster tails have just arrived from Cape Cod. They sit there for a day, or two, or three, getting less fresh and sweet by the minute. So, bypass the “fresh,” for the frozen, which are fresher. I really hope that all made sense, but regardless, with fancy dinner party season in full swing, I really do hope you give these deviled lobster tails a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
Please note: I never measure when I use this technique, and so these are just guesses. Everything in this is “to taste,” so work accordingly.
4 frozen lobster tails, thawed and split as shown
1/4 cup mayonnaise
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon, chervil, or dill

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Béarnaise Sauce – Maybe My Favorite ‘Aise

I adore a good hollandaise, and couldn’t survive without mayonnaise, but if I had to pick an all-time favorite ’aise, it might just be béarnaise. This tarragon-spiked, shallot-infused hollandaise is absolutely perfect with any and all steaks or roasts; especially lean ones, like our recent salt-crust beef tenderloin.

A sauce made from 75% butter has some advantages, and elevating lean meat is just one of them. This is also excellent on potatoes, vegetables, as well as just about any seafood I can imagine. And as I mentioned in the video, this can be used to make quite the memorable eggs Benedict.

We’re using the same revolutionary technique here that we featured in our last hollandaise sauce video, with one small tweak. If you’re feeling lucky, try to create your hollandaise over medium heat, instead of low. That’s what I usually use, but I played it safe, and went with low heat in that recipe, even though using medium is much faster.

You’ll have to keep an eye on things, but you should get results similar to what you see in this video. By the way, just like when making regular hollandaise you can adjust the thickness by adding in a little hot water if necessary. So, whether you’re going to enjoy this with salt-crusted beef tenderloin, or something else just as special, I hope you give this béarnaise sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

For the reduction:
1 cup fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 rounded teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup water

For the compound butter:
1/4 cup chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon drained capers
1 tablespoon cold butter

For the béarnaise:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons tarragon vinegar reduction
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tablespoon caper tarragon compound butter
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper, optional

Friday, December 9, 2016

Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin – No Lomo

I received a food wish for lomo al trapo a while back, which I learned is a Colombian method for cooking beef tenderloin. The meat is encased in salt, wrapped in a kitchen towel, and then set on top of hot coals. 

Crediting the intense heat, and salt crust, aficionados of this Colombian technique say it produces the juiciest, most flavorful beef tenderloin you’ve ever had.

It really sounded amazing, and I wanted to try it, but realized many of you would have trouble explaining why you were destroying a perfectly good kitchen towel in the process. So, I decided to try a towel-free salt crust technique I’d used successfully on prime rib before, and despite some minor aesthetic issues, it worked amazingly well.

Beef tenderloin is a lean cut of meat, which can make for a fairly boring roast, but that was not the case here. The tenderloin took on an intensely beefy flavor, and was so juicy that I thought something was wrong.  There was so much on the cutting board, I was afraid there wouldn’t be any left in the meat, but I’m happy to report every single bite was dripping with moisture.

Maybe this summer, when the grill is fired up, and I have one too many kitchen towels around, I’ll try the real lomo al trapo technique, but in the meantime I was thrilled with how this came out, and really hope you give it a try soon. Stay tuned for the béarnaise sauce video, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 pound center-cut beef tenderloin roast
1 garlic clove crushed
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white
about 3 cups coarse-ground sea salt

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tarte Flambée – Alsatian Bacon & Onion Pizza (Not Pizza)

The hardest thing about this amazing tarte flambée recipe isn’t the prep, or finding some exotic ingredient, it’s actually trying to explain to your guests why it’s not called pizza. I’m reminded of that old saying, “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck, sometimes it’s a trout.”

That’s right, while this is a pizza almost everywhere else, in certain places on the German/French border, it goes by the totally dessert-sounding name of tarte flambée. Just tell people the name comes from the fact it used to be cooked in a fire, and then trail off.

Once your crust is pre-browned and topped, you have several options for bringing this to a successful, and hopefully crispy conclusion. Since the bottom is already browned, I usually just broil it on high, about 8 inches from the flame, for about 5 minutes, or until the top is looking just right.

The other method would be to pop it in a 500 F. oven, for about 7-10 minutes, or until you’re completely happy. Or, you can actually do both – start in a hot oven, and then give it a minute under the broiler to seal the deal. Either way, I really hope you give this tarte flambée a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 tarte flambée:
4 balls prepared pizza dough (about 5 ounces each) Note: Wolfgang Puck pizza dough recipe would would perfectly
12 ounces bacon, sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced, cooked with salt, until soft, but not caramelized
For the cheese mixture:
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste

Friday, December 2, 2016

My Dream Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream

And by dream, I mean nightmare. I don’t test recipes. There is nothing in my contract that requires me to only post successful videos, and as you longtime viewers know, I do enjoy sharing the occasional flop, but this new and improved, vanilla bean pastry cream was not a one-take affair.

I’ve wanted to update our old crème patisserie recipe for a while, and long story short, I became obsessed, and ended up suffering through seven non-perfect versions before I was finally satisfied. The key to a great pastry cream is using the minimum of starch. You need enough so the cream holds a shape, but not so much it interferes with the flavor.

I found flour-based pastry creams easy to work with, but they have more of a pasty mouthfeel that gets in the way of the vanilla. That’s why this version is all corn starch, which we need less of to do the same job. Just be careful not to keep cooking it once it has thickened, otherwise you may compromise its thickening powers.

With the holidays, and their associated fancy desserts, right around the corner, what better time to work on your pastry cream game? So whether it’s for Napoleons, pies, tarts, or cakes, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes about 3 cups:
1 large whole egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon fine table salt)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeded, plus pure vanilla extract if needed
Tip: Save the scraped pods, and stick them in your sugar container for lovely, vanilla-scented sugar!
4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Pastry Cream is Coming!

Despite a few minor and uninteresting technical difficulties, the pastry cream video will be posted tonight! Stay tuned!