Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bigos (Polish Hunter’s Stew) – Go Bigos or Go Home

I don’t often get requests for Polish food, but when I do, they’re usually for bigos. Which makes perfect sense, since this meaty stew is one of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever taste. It’s also low-carb, highly nutritious, and very simple to make, as long as you don’t consider having to wait a day to eat it, “complicated.”

While you can eat this as soon as it’s made, and I bet most of you do, it’s much better the next day, as all the flavors have time to properly meld together. You can also really customize this to your personal tastes by changing up which meats you use.

Traditionally, this is made with wild game, such as venison, boar, and other shootable animals, but is perfectly acceptable, if not amazing, using easier to find domestic livestock. Regardless of which meats you include, be sure to use a lot of them, as I think this stew should be at least 50% meat.

Since you can, and should make this ahead of time, it’s perfect for feeding large groups, especially when the weather turns cold and dreary. But, no matter what it’s doing outside, I hope you give this a try, and have a pot simmering inside soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 packed cups drained sauerkraut
1 small head green cabbage, quartered and sliced (2 pound head before trimming)
4 strips bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 lb pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb polish sausage links, sliced (or any other sausage)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 pitted prunes, diced
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked until soft and chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 large bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Zombie Meatloaf – Better Than Brains

After seeing various versions of this Halloween-themed, zombie meatloaf on social media over the years, I decided it was time to post my very own. I’ve seen many approaches to this; such as covered in “blood,” or mummified in strips of pastry, but the ones wrapped in bacon always looked the most realistic, and the most appetizing.

Ironically, “appetizing” is the last thing you want this to look like, but if we’re going to do some kind of gimmicky, holiday recipe, it might as well taste great, and this most certainly did. It’s been a while since I posted a meatloaf recipe, and I was very happy with how this one came out. You can use a food processor make chopping the mushrooms a bit easier, but don’t leave them out. They add a lot of flavor, as well as help keep the meat moist, and tender. 

By the way, if you're trapped in one of these households where certain people don’t eat mushrooms, add them anyway, since they’ll never be able to tell they’re in there. Then, next week, after they’ve eaten this, and loved it, you can come clean. Trick or treat, indeed.

Having said that, this zombification will work with any of your favorite meatloaf recipes, and you won’t be hurting my feelings. Much. Regardless of what you use, I really hope you give this fun-to-make, even funner-to-eat, zombie meatloaf a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 large portions:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
8 ounces brown mushrooms, chopped fine
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds ground beef
3 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
1 large beaten egg
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 pound strip bacon for  zombie “facial muscles”
1 onion for eyes and teeth

- Bake at 325 F. for about 1 hour, or to an internal temp of 155 F.

- I went for a realistic muscular look, but if you’d rather have something that looks like crispy bacon, go ahead and put foil over the eyes and teeth, and pop this under a hot broiler, until it looks just right.

- Serve with “blood sauce,” which is made with equal parts SFQ bbq sauce and ketchup, spiked with hot sauce.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Buttermilk Pie – The Best Pie You’ve Never Heard Of

I can understand certain recipes being relatively unknown, but this buttermilk pie is not one of them. Not only is this easy to make, and beautiful to look at, it’s also bursting with the kind of bright, tangy flavor that no other custard-style pie can touch. Like I said in the video, this is sort of like a vanilla custard, meets lemon meringue pie, meets very light cheesecake. Except better.

I’ve never had much trouble finding buttermilk, even in regular, non-fancy grocery stores, but depending on where you live in the world, apparently that’s not the case. There are many “hacks” for making a substitute, usually using milk and lemon juice, or vinegar, and I’ll let you Google those at your leisure, but I’d be more inclined to try some yogurt, thinned out with some milk.

I think that would be closer to the tanginess of buttermilk, but as far as the recipe “working,” one cup of any type of dairy product should yield similar results. Once your pie is made, it can be served “as is,” or topped with seasonal fruit. I went with raspberries, mostly for the pictures, but if you were going to do this for the holidays, some persimmons, and/or pomegranate seeds would also be very nice. Regardless of how you serve it, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one pie:
Enough pie dough for a 9-inch pie dish
(I used half a recipe of our butter crust dough)
For the filling:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk

- Prebake crust at 350 F. for 15-20 minutes, let cool, then fill and bake for another 45-55 minutes, or until the filling is golden and “set.”

Friday, October 20, 2017

Potstickers – For When You Can’t Decide Between Fried and Steamed Dumplings

Potstickers (or Pot Stickers, depending on which style guide you’re using) are very fast and easy to make, unless you only do them once or twice a year, in which case they’re going to take a little bit of time to fold and shape. 

Just for fun, find a video that shows professionals doing these, and marvel at how they come together in seconds. That's what happens when you do hundreds each day, for years.

Having said that, every second spent producing these, is a second well spent. The play between the crispy, crusty bottom, and the tender parts, makes for a truly unique dumpling. They’re also very versatile, since you can fill them with anything you want. No matter what you use, you’ll know exactly what you’re biting into, which is not always the case when you get these out.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the occasional take-out binge, and its associated mysteries. But, it’s nice being able to control the contents, as well as the generosity of the filling. There is nothing worse than biting into one of these, and realizing it’s only half-full. So, for all those reasons, and more, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

One production note: While I’ve made these many times, I’ve never actually measured the ingredients before, so I ended up with extra filling. So, I’ve increased the dough amounts from what I used in the video. Instead of getting 24 wrappers, you should get more like 32 (cutting each quarter dough into 8, instead of 6 portions), which should be a better match. Of course this depends on exactly how much you fill, but it should be close.

For the filling:
1 pound ground pork
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
3 tablespoons very finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch cayenne
1 1/2 cups finely chopped green cabbage

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup hot water (about 130-150 F.)

For the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
Optional: You can spike dipping sauce with things like hot sauce, garlic, minced green onions, ginger, etc.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Stuffed Hasselback Turkey Breast – A Little Thanksgiving

Everyone loves a traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings, but because of the time and work involved, we usually only get to enjoy it once a year on Thanksgiving. So, what if we create a second holiday, called “Little Thanksgiving,” and feature this smaller, and much easier, Hasselback turkey? 

By the way, when I say easier, that assumes we’ve figured out how to carve it significantly better than I demonstrated in the video.

A thinner, more flexible knife would have been much better, as well as just slicing off one section at a time. I may try another one, but before stuffing, I'll go around the outside edge of the breast with a knife, cutting in about an inch, where it attaches to the bone. This would still leave most of the meat attached at the center, and probably make slicing simpler.

I guess we could try using a boneless breast, but I really think the ribcage is important for keeping the meat, if you’ll pardon the expression, moist. If you’ve tried this sans bones, please let me know how it came out. Regardless, since these breasts can really vary in size, be sure to use a thermometer to check doneness. So, whether you do this for regular Thanksgiving, or that new “Little Thanksgiving” everyone is talking about, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
one 2 to 3 pound split turkey breast, bone in, skin on
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon melted butter for brushing on before roasting
For the very basic stuffing:
2 cups small dry bread cubes
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (dried sage, rosemary, and thyme)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
1/2 cup diced onion and 1/2 cup diced celery sautéed in butter until golden
1 cup hot chicken broth, plus more if needed
1 large egg yolk

NOTE: In the video I said to roast at 350 F., to an internal temp of 150 F., but in hindsight, I’m thinking that a 375 F. oven would work better.

For the stuffing, try these recipes, and cook the extra mixture in a pan alongside your Hasselback Turkey Breast.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Rice Crispy Wings – No Breakfast Cereal was Harmed in the Making of this Video

As promised, here is the rice-flour coated chicken wings recipe I teased in the mumbo sauce video. It’s hard to believe that this is the first fried wings video we’ve ever done, but that was the case, which is why I’m so glad these turned out as well as they did. 

Besides being gluten-free, which is probably a big deal to a small, but enthusiastic part of my audience, this rice flour coating ended up being light, crispy, and extremely sauce friendly.

The original buffalo style chicken wings are fried without any type of coating, and while I do enjoy them that way, they aren’t the best at holding on to a sauce. This is why people started adding some kind of starch to the outside, which creates a less slick, rougher surface, that really grabs onto whatever you’re dipping, or tossing them in.

By the way, before your wings get coated with the flour, you’re free to spice these anyway you want. Other than the salt, everything else is up for grabs. I went very simple, as I usually do, but the mind reels at the possibilities. Regardless of how you flavor yours, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for *one pound of rice crispy chicken wings:
1 pound chicken wing sections (flats and drums)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup rice flour, preferably "stone-ground" (you can grind you own in a spice mill)

* This can be scaled up to however large a batch you need. I usually allow 1/2 pound of wings per person for a party.

- If you’re doing a larger batch, be sure to give the wings a toss or two during the refrigeration time. By the way, two hours would be a minimum, but if you want, you can leave these overnight with the seasoning.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mumbo Sauce – Is D.C.’s Secret Sauce the Next Big Thing?

A friend of mine asked me recently if I’d ever heard of mumbo sauce, since she had just returned from Washington D.C., and said it was “everywhere.” I hadn’t, which isn’t a surprise, since unless you’re from the Capital, or select neighborhoods in Chicago, this stuff is virtually unknown.

Apparently, this sweet-and-sour condiment came to Washington D.C. via Chicago, where it somehow became a staple in Chinese take-out restaurants, served as a condiment with fried chicken wings, among other things. That’s as much background as you're getting here, and like many other regional culinary specialties, the history is murky.

All I know is that this was great with fried chicken wings, and I look forward to finding other uses for it, although I’m not sure French fries is going to be one of them. I’m a ketchup guy, and probably too old to change. Having said that, I can see this catching on, and for once, I’ll be ahead of a trend.

They say every takeout place in D.C. has their own secret recipe, but there were quite a few published recipes on the Internet, and so this is sort of a composite, based on the extensive, 20 minutes of research I did. Stay tuned for the chicken wing experiment I mentioned in the video, and in anticipation, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 4 cups of Mumbo Sauce:
1 can (6-oz) tomato paste
2/3 cup ketchup
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

- Please note: Every one of these ingredients is “to taste.”

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mumble Sauce

I just got home after some fairly painless oral surgery, and my troublesome wisdom tooth is now gone. That's the good news. The bad news is my mouth is currently stuffed with cotton, and doing a voice-over for the just completed mumbo sauce probably isn't a great idea. Hopefully, I'll be able to rock the mic soon, but in the meantime, thank you for your patience, and please stay tuned! 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Canelés de Bordeaux (Crispy Baked French Custards) – Hold the Mold!

I’ve wanted to do a Canelés de Bordeaux video forever, but just never got around to buying the specially designed molds that they require. After seeing a picture of them online a few days ago, I decided this would be the week, and headed out to the one store near me I knew carried the necessary hardware.

Since it was actually a hardware store that also carries lots of kitchen equipment, I figured they would have the beeswax, as well. I’ve been in that store at least a hundred times, and I would anyways see the canelé molds beckoning me, but never pulled trigger, since I was usually looking for something else.

So, you can imagine my shock when I walked down that aisle, as I’d done so many times before, only to find they were no longer stocked. Thanks a lot, Amazon. Anyway, purely out of spite, I decided to make them anyway, using a regular muffin pan, and the results were pretty amazing.

As long as you cook them long enough, the muffin tin works great, assuming you don’t care about getting the classic shape. Since this was an experiment, I only did six, but I’ve scaled the recipe below to make 12. I’m not sure how many real canelé molds this recipe will fill, but it’s probably close to that. Either way, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Canelé de Bordeaux:
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon unsalted butter
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/8 teaspoon of fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rum

For greasing pan:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons beeswax

- Bake at 450 F. for 10 minutes, then at 375 F. for about 50 minutes more, or until well browned.

-- NOTE: These only stay crispy for about 8 hours. So, fair warning if you plan to make them a day ahead. I've never tried to re-crisp. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

It’s The Great Pumpkin Seed Spread, Charlie Brown

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” was definitely my favorite animated holiday special, and I suspect that goes for most people my age. I found the Christmas special a little heavy, and was bothered by the menu in the Thanksgiving episode, but the Halloween offering struck all the right notes.

Back then, I probably wouldn’t have had much interest in this pumpkin seed spread, since I needed to save room for all those miniature Mr. Goodbars, but now, I can’t think of anything I’d rather eat. This straddles the fence between sweet and savory, and would be very easy to adapt to your tastes.

I need to credit Cortney Burns and Nick Balla, from a restaurant here in San Francisco called Duna. They do a similar, albeit more savory version, which inspired this spread. If you don’t like the term “spread,” you could call it a pumpkin seed hummus, or pumpkin seed butter, but no matter what you call it, I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 3 cups of Pumpkin Seed Spread:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 peeled garlic cloves, quartered
2 cups green pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in dry pan
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons diced green Serrano or jalapeño chilies
3/4 cup apple juice, to reduce with onions and peppers
juice from 2 limes
1 cup freshly picked cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
additional 1/2 cup apple juice or water, if you want less sweetness to adjust texture
- you can also adjust texture and acidity with a splash of apple cider vinegar