Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Chocolate Croissants – But Just Barely

I’ll admit to being pretty underwhelmed the first time I had a chocolate croissant, or “pain au chocolat,” as I’d mispronounce it; but eventually I realized the relatively sparse amount of chocolate wasn’t any kind of stinginess, but rather the true secret behind this amazing pastry.

Properly done, this should ride that line between sweet pastry and a savory bread, so don’t overdo it with the chocolate chunks; otherwise you’ll lose that beautiful balance. Other than that, not much can go wrong. Just be sure to bake them until nicely browned, and let them cool before enjoying.

While this will work with that dough in the tube, I’d like to think you’d make a batch of your own dough using our recently posted croissant recipe. Don’t worry, it only seems like a lot of work. Either way, I really do hope you give these chocolate croissants a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Chocolate Croissants:
1 batch of croissant dough from this recipe (split in half for two batches of 6)
about 1 cup roughly chopped chocolate chunks, or chips
1 large egg, plus 1 tablespoon of water for the egg wash
coarsely ground sea salt
- Bake at 400 F. for about 20-25 minutes, or until well-browned

Friday, January 12, 2018

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, or “Pizza” As We Call It In New York

The biggest problem with Chicago-style deep dish pizza, especially for a New Yorker, is that it’s called “pizza.” I’m not sure what else it could’ve, or should’ve been called, but when you grow eating thin-crust, and all of a sudden someone hands you a plate of this, with a fork, and calls it pizza, it’s quite the shock to the system.

Having said that, for the home cook at least, this deep dish pizza is actually much easier to pull off than your classic thin-crust, which really benefits from a 700 F. pizza oven. Another advantage is that we don’t have to worry about too much, or too many toppings, which is usually the fatal flaw of a poorly made NY-style pizza.

One key, besides the buttery, cornmeal-infused crust, is to be sure your sauce is very thick, and flavorful. Some Chicago pizzerias simply use seasoned, coarsely crushed tomatoes, but I prefer using a sauce, as long as it’s reduced at least as much as you see here. Your favorite will work, but just in case you don’t have one of those, here’s a link to our official pizza sauce recipe.

I went with a pretty basic sausage and cheese version here, but you can, and probably should, add other things like peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Same goes for switching up the cheeses, but I do like the combo of fresh, and firm mozzarella. I don’t think it’s quite as good if you use all one, or the other. Regardless, I really hope you give this “pizza” a try soon. Enjoy!

For the dough (enough for a 12-inch cast iron skillet):
1 1/3 cups warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 3/4 cups flour, plus more as needed

For the fillings/toppings (in order of application):
4 ounces sliced provolone
8 ounces fresh mozzarella
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from casing
4 ounces firm, low-moisture mozzarella
3 to 4 cups very thick pizza sauce (I made a double batch)
2 ounces (about 1 cup very finely grated) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil for the top
more cheese and parsley to garnish

- Bake at 425 F. for about 35 minutes

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The Denver Omelet – Denver, Colorado, Not Denver, France

This Denver omelet was one of the first things I learned how to make professionally, during my brief, but exciting career as a short order cook in high school. So, it was a little disconcerting to learn when I arrived at culinary school that everything I had done was totally wrong.

According to the chefs teaching me how to make a classic French omelet, my Denver omelet was overcooked, over-browned, and included too many ingredients.  It was made very clear that if I made that for my exam, I would fail, which was confusing since I thought they were really good, and the people at the diner where I’d worked seemed to agree.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate both styles of omelet, and understand they really are two entirely different things. I’m not sure exactly why, but I seem to prefer the softer French version for breakfast, and this heartier American-style for lunch, or dinner. Maybe it’s the browning, or denser texture, but it really does make for a great “can’t figure out what to have for dinner” idea.

As with all omelets, feel free to toss in anything you want, but just be sure to cook it long enough before adding the eggs.  To me there’s nothing worse than an omelet with crunchy, undercooked vegetables in it, and that’s really the only way to screw this up. But, no matter what you use, or when you enjoy this, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one Denver omelet:
1 tablespoon butter
3 large eggs
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced smoked ham
2 tablespoon finely diced onion
2 tablespoon finely green bell pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

Friday, January 5, 2018

Chennai Chicken Wings – A Football Snack from the Land of Cricket

I used to do a new chicken wing video every year before the Super Bowl, but that yearly ritual stopped when I sort of ran out of things to do with them. Being from Western New York State, where chicken wings are as much a religion, as they are a snack, I didn’t want these posts to become gratuitous and contrived.

However, this year I was inspired to reestablish the tradition after enjoying an appetizer called “Chennai Chicken,” served at Dosa, which is one of my favorite Indian restaurants in San Francisco. Their version features thin strips of breast coasted with a ton of spice, and deep-fried to a gorgeous brick red.  

It’s one of those dishes you can’t stop eating, no matter how badly your mouth is burning, and I thought it would make a great approach for a batch of Buffalo wings. Since they’d never published the recipe, I did a lot of guessing here, but think I got pretty close. One of the key ingredients is an Indian spice blend called garam masala, which isn’t too hard to find, but if you can’t, here’s a link to a recipe for making your own.

As usual, feel free to alter the spice amounts as you see fit, but as I said in the video, do not skip the rice vinegar sauce. It really makes the dish. I’m not sure if these wings are too exotic for your Super Bowl party, or if your guests are not exotic enough for them, but I really hope you give them a try anyway. Enjoy!

4 pounds split chicken wings
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon rice flour
4 teaspoons cayenne
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons kosher salt

For the ginger oil:
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon julienned or grated ginger root
2 teaspoons sambal (spicy ground chili sauce)
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes