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

Friday, February 17, 2017

“One-Step” Chicken Noodle Soup – For When You’re Sick of Following Recipes

Or, just plain sick. Yes, I’m a little under the weather, but as they say, the show must go on, and that “show” ended up being me just throwing all my chicken noodle soup ingredients into a pot, crossing my fingers, and hoping for the best.

And while I know this method didn’t produce “the best” chicken noodle soup, I was amazed at how really good it was, and how remarkably close it was to a certain canned variety. I can’t give brand names, but it rhymes with Frogresso.

If you do decide to use this one-step approach, there are a few things you need to pay attention to. You’ll want to use a pasta or noodle that’s at least a large as the fusilli I used so it doesn’t completely break down; as well as, to be sure to dice/slice your veggies nice and thin, so they get tender relatively quickly.

I just used a knife, but I bet you have one of those vegetable slicers somewhere, and this would be the perfect operation to use it for. Above and beyond that, feel free to add in other “medicinal” ingredients, such as garlic, ginger, and hot chilies. But whether you embellish or not, or you’re sick, or feeling just fine, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
1 pound raw or cooked chicken meat (I used 2 cubed-up breasts)
1/2 cup dried fusilli pasta (corkscrew pasta)
1/3 finely minced onions
1 carrot, very thinly sliced
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
2 teaspoons ketchup
1 fresh thyme sprig, or pinch of dried thyme, optional
4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley