Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Duck Fat Roasted Brussels Sprouts – P.H.A.T. with an “F”

With all the rich and decadent football party food I’ve been sharing lately, I’d thought I’d take a little break, and post a nice, simple green vegetable side dish. Of course, these beautiful roasted Brussels sprouts were just a prop so I could demonstrate using leftover duck fat, but still.

If you watch any amount of celebrity chef TV, you’ve undoubtedly heard them going off on the virtues of duck fat. They mostly pontificate on its deep, palate-coating richness, which is true; but they also like to point out the health benefits. That part is a little cloudy…you know, like saturated fat when it cools down.

Duck fat does have much less saturated fat than butter, and is higher in oleic acid, the stuff that makes olive oil so popular with the healthy eating gurus, but make no mistake, this is still an animal fat, and should be used in moderation. The good news: “in moderation” totally works!

A few tablespoons and a very hot oven is all you need to turn some sleepy vegetables into something much more special. As I mention in the video, bacon grease will make a fine (and even more flavorful) substitute, but if you do cook duck, saving the leftover fat is nothing short of mandatory. I hope you give this technique a try soon. Enjoy!

Brussels sprouts (about 4-6 per person)
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
enough melted duck fat to coat vegetables generously (about 2-3 tablespoons per pound of sprouts)
fresh squeezed lemon to finish
*Roast at 450 degrees F. until tender but still a little firm, about 15-20 minutes

View the complete recipe

Monday, January 28, 2013

Baked Crab and Artichoke Dip – A Snack So Nice, You Finish it Twice

Nothing says, “this party rocks” like a creamy, cheesy, baked dip, and when you’re talking about a hot crab and artichoke dip, people have been known to put an extra choice word or two before “rocks.” If only there were a big event coming up soon to test this theory.

Not only is this additive dip easy to make, it works with any budget. You can load it up with the finest fresh crab, use frozen or pasteurized lump crab meat, or even canned in a pinch. By the way, (and off the record) I’ve had these made with fake crab, and it wasn’t bad at all.

While the loaf of bread base does make for a nice presentation, not to mention recycled after party snack food, you can simply bake this in a casserole dish as well. As I mentioned in the video, I had a little extra leftover, and if this happens to you, give it a try as a stuffing for ravioli, wontons, or other dumpling-like delivery systems.

No matter which team they’re rooting for, all your guests will be cheering for more of this delicious baked dip. By the way, nothing beats watching your friends play tug-o-war with the crust once the dip is gone. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions of Baked Crab and Artichoke Dip:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh chopped tarragon leaves
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1 pound lump crab meat, drained
1 (14-oz) can artichoke bottoms
6 oz white Cheddar cheese, divided
1 large round or oval loaf sourdough bread
About 30 min at 375 degrees F.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Super Bowl Spoiler Alert: San Francisco 49ers Will Win!

As promised, here’s my official Super Bowl XLVII prediction, using our patented Buffalo chicken wing bones method. The game will feature the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, and while I’m sure you’ll have fun either way, recent studies have shown that winning lots of money during a sporting event, results in significantly higher levels of enjoyment.

And of course, by using chicken wing bones to predict the winner, I don’t waste time and money sifting through information, analyzing game film, or considering any actual facts. This allows me to pass the savings on to you. Anyway, this is obviously not a joke, and I fully expect you to bet your entire savings on this sure thing. Not doing so would just be plain stupid. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

I just started working on this year's special Super Bowl dip recipe (spoiler alert: it's not low-cal), and thought in the meantime I'd repost this short but delicious collection of previously posted dips. Just click on the recipe name in the caption, and as always, enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Butterfly, Stuff, Roll, and Tie a Pork Roast Like a Celebrity Butcher

Like almost all the videos I do, this tutorial for how to butterfly, stuff, roll, tie, and roast a pork loin was inspired by a viewer’s request. However, this was NOT your typical food wish, as it came via Chris LaFrieda, from the celebrated Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors

That’s right. America’s most famous butchers are fans of the channel, and asked me if I wanted to do a video with some of their fabulous meat. After carefully considering the offer for two or three seconds, I agreed, and we decided to show their technique for a rolled, stuffed, caul-fat-wrapped pork loin.

Not only do the LaFrieda’s star in their own TV show, "Meat Men," but their client list is a who’s who of the country’s top chefs. Their custom burger mixes are legendary, with the most famous being the Minetta Tavern’s “Black Label Burger.” Basically, if you’ve not heard of Pat LaFrieda Meats, you need to turn in your foodie card right now.

I tried my best to adapt their technique for the home kitchen, and as you’ll see, there really isn’t anything that even an average home cook couldn’t accomplish. For example, the butterflying may not look very elegant with all those slash marks, but in the end it will look amazing, and is a bit easier than the pro method.

As far as the caul fat wrap goes, you’ll need to go past the supermarket meat case, and talk to a real butcher. Anyone that can get you a large pork loin roast, like the one we used here, will be able to get you a half-pound of caul fat. It really is one of the keys to this procedure.

Pork loin is so lean, and by covering it in a thin layer of caul fat, you’re adding lots of moisture, as well as another layer of flavor. I highly suggest you find some, and if you don’t use it all for your roast, it makes a perfect casing for some sausage patties.

Anyway, a very special thank you to Chris LaFrieda, and the rest of the LaFrieda family for the opportunity to share this great technique. I hope you enjoy the video, and it gives you the confidence to try this exciting technique soon. Enjoy!

5-6 pound boneless pork loin roast, butterflied as shown
salt and pepper to taste (be generous, that’s a lot of meat)
3 cups any prepared bread stuffing recipe (ones with herbs and dried fruit will be particularly delicious)
caul fat, as needed
1 sliced onion for the roasting pan

Roast at 450 degrees F. for 15 minutes to sear.
Reduce heat to 325 degrees F. for about 1 1/2 hour OR until an internal temperature of 140 degrees F.

Pan Sauce Note: Once you remove the roast, you can add a splash of water to the pan, along with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar if desired. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, scrapping the goodness from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Season to taste, and spoon over sliced meat.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gaining Weight at the Taste Awards

No, not from all that Schiltz smoked goose, but from those two gorgeous medals hanging off my neck. Speaking of gorgeous, as great as getting the hardware was, it was even more special to catch up with old friends, like Sara from Average Betty (right), as well as meet new ones, like Laura Vitale from Laura in the Kitchen (left).

I want to give everyone who voted for us one last thank you for taking the time to support what we’re doing here. I’ve said it many times before, but you're the best and most loyal fans on the web! Thank you very much.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baked Eggplant Sandwiches – Get’em While They’re Room Temp!

I didn’t intend for this baked eggplant sandwich to turn into yet another Super Bowl party food post, but two bites in and I realized that’s what may have happened. The reason for this epiphany had nothing to do with taste or texture, but with temperature. I’d forgotten just how truly delicious these are served at room temp, which was always how the Italians I learned this from served it.

Of course, like any normal person faced with a warm, cheese-filled anything, I ate one as soon as possible, and it was great. Golden-brown and crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. However, when I went back for seconds an hour later, I got to experience these in all their cooled-off glory.

While not as crispy, they were still crunchy around the edges and featured an entirely different flavor profile. Hot salami isn’t the greatest expression of the sausage maker’s art, and you really don’t appreciate the eggplant’s subtle sweetness playing against the cheese when hot.

I’m not sure exactly why, but Italians seem to have a thing for room temperature fried foods, especially vegetables. I’ve heard Mario Batali talk about this before, but there seems to be a long tradition of letting fried stuff cool down first before eating.

Happily, this practice works perfectly for entertaining, since you can bake these off ahead of time, and put them out on a tray anytime. Whether for your Super Bowl party, or not, I hope you give these addictive eggplant sandwiches a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for each eggplant sandwich:
2 thick slices eggplant (Note: some people salt the slices to draw off liquid, which they say is bitter. I’ve done this for other eggplant recipes, but not for these sandwiches. With the breading and filling, I actually think the slight bitterness is an advantage.)
3 thin, small slices of salami
1/2 slice provolone cheese
1 generous tablespoon olive oil, divided
seasoned flour as needed (flour with enough fine salt, pepper, and cayenne so that it tastes “seasoned” when you dip your finger in it)
beaten eggs, as needed (2 eggs is enough for about 4 sandwiches)
plain breadcrumbs, as needed
1 tsp very finely grated Parmesan cheese

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Award-Winning Smoked Goose

I’m heading down to Los Angeles tomorrow for the Taste Awards, and in addition to the medals we won for “Best Food Program: Web” and “Best Home Chef in a Series,” we also were gifted a smoked goose by one of the show’s sponsors, Schiltz Foods

While the picture may look food styled and photoshop’d, I can assure you it was not. These delicious geese really are as gorgeous as you see here, and I thought I’d repost the video below as a little thanks to the fine folks at Schiltz for this year’s bird.

The Taste Awards may not yet have risen to match the prestige of the James Beard Awards, but the last time I checked, those guys weren’t getting any free poultry, so there. To read the original post, and get the ingredients, just follow this link. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beef Goulash! Thick Hungarian Soup, Thin Austrian Stew, or None of the Above?

I’m not sure how authentic this goulash recipe is, since the recipe I use is adapted from one by Austrian chef Wolfgang Puck. Austria is Hungary-adjacent, and I’m pretty sure they were the same country once, but still, the Puckmeister’s version, further modified by me, is closer to a stew called "Pörkölt." Apparently true goulash, or Gulyás, is much more like a soup, and is served with dumplings.

Okay, two things. First, when it comes to a main course, I like stew more than soup. If you want to stay truer to the original, add more liquid. That’s not going to bother me, or Wolfgang. Also, since I operate in a universe ruled by Google, I went with “goulash” since it’s a thousand times more recognizable than pörkölt. When’s the last time you heard someone say they were craving a big bowl of pörkölt?

Of course, none of this helps my American viewers who, thanks to the cafeteria ladies from our childhoods, think “goulash” is a tomato, hamburger, and elbow macaroni casserole. I’m assuming that variation was born when some Hungarian (or Austrian?) immigrant tried to stretch the last few ladles of soup/stew into another full meal.

Anyway, now that we’ve cleared up absolutely nothing, I can talk about this gorgeous dish of food. I adore everything about this dish. The color is stunning, the beef is sticky and succulent, and paprika-based sauce is incredible.

By the way, I’ve heard from my people on YouTube that this is never served on noodles. How do you say, “whatever” in Hungarian? Despite our questionable naming, ingredients, and side dish, this made for a fantastic winter dinner, and I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large portions of beef goulash:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes, seasoned generously with salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tsp dried marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
4 cups chicken broth (1 to deglaze pan, 3 more added to stew)
*Note: real goulash is more like a soup, so if you want yours thinner, just add 2 or 3 extra cups of broth.
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
*Simmer for about 2 hours, or until tender
Garnish with sour cream and fresh marjoram if desired.

View the complete recipe

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Soup For You!

I'm not sure where you're reading this from, but for the sake of this post I'll assume it's freezing outside, and you're craving a huge bowl of steaming, hot soup. Sweaters are great, but when you need to get warm from the inside out, there is really only one way...well, two actually, but this isn't a cocktails blog, so we're just going with soup. Here are a few of my personal favorite cold weather soups. Click on caption to read the post and watch the video. Bundle up and enjoy!

Spicy Coconut Shrimp Bisque

Bumblebee Soup - Bacon, Black Bean and Corn Chowder

Minestrone Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

Friday, January 11, 2013

Garlic Parm Hot Wings – Video Recipe 800! 800? Really?

This garlic Parmesan hot wings video represents the 800th recipe we’ve uploaded to YouTube since we launched the channel in January 2007. As I waited for the file to upload, an odd sense of disbelief started to wash over me. Had I really cooked, filmed, and posted 800 video recipes? It didn’t seem possible.

The more I thought about just how much content that is, the more improbable it seemed. 800 recipes? That’s like 10 cookbooks! Then, a different kind of disbelief came over me as I considered all the dishes I’ve still not done.

After all these hundreds and hundreds of recipes, I still have not done things like risotto, goulash, blue cheese dressing, calamari, or beef Wellington; just to name a few. Anyway, it was an interesting and introspective ten minutes, sitting there watching the upload progress bar slowly move across the screen, thinking about what I had done, and how much I still needed to do.

As far as these gorgeous wings go, they rocked. My wife Michele, who is not a big fan of chicken wings, ate more than I’d ever seen her eat before, and deemed them my best yet. I’m not sure about that, but they did come out really, really well.

One reason it’s hard to get a crispy-crusty coating on a wing in the oven is all the moisture that leaks out during the initial phase of baking. Here, we are parboiling the wings in a very flavorful liquid, which not only helped season the chicken, but also produced a surface texture in the oven that your guests will swear came straight out of a deep fryer. I hope you give these a try soon, and as always, and for the 800th time, enjoy!

Ingredients for 5 pounds of wings (about 48 pieces):
3 quarts cold water
1/4 cup salt
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 to 5 pounds of chicken wing sections
8-10 cloves garlic plus big pinch of salt
3 or 4 tbsp olive oil, or as needed
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste (obviously you can add cayenne or other hot stuff to make these even spicier)
2 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
about 1 cup of very finely and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Tuna Melt – Open Face, Insert Hypocrisy

If you watch as much food television as I do, then I’m sure you’ve heard a celebrity chef or two, pontificating about the horrors of combining cheese and fish. They say it’s never acceptable, no exceptions, never, ever.

Of course, after the show ends, they have a couple beers and head for their favorite late-night diner, where they enjoy delicious tuna melts. Those hypocritical bastards. I’m not saying to start pouring nacho cheese sauce over your sautéed sand dabs, but when it comes to food, it’s best to never say never.

As I mention in the video, this will only be as good as your tuna, so use something nice. You know I’m a Tonino man, but any imported, olive-oil packed brand should work fine. By the way, I enjoy the classic, toasted sandwich-style tuna melt a great deal, but this open face version is a little easier to execute, and perfect for larger groups, since you can fit a bunch on a pan.

Whether you use my formula or embellish to your tastes, I really hope you give these a try soon. And, if you know any celebrity chefs, invite them over and see if you can get them to admit this totally works. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large tuna melts:
2 thick slices of Italian or French bread
2 tbsp soft butter
6.5 oz jar of oil-packed tuna, drained
2 tbsp small diced celery
1 tbsp minced green onion
2 tsp capers
1 tsp hot chili sauce or other hot stuff to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp mayonnaise, or more to taste
about 1/3 cup shredded or crumbled fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
cayenne to taste

Next Up: Tuna Melt

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sausage Ribs – Deliver A Bone-Jarring Hit to Your Football Food Lineup

Chips and dips may be fine for regular season gridiron action, but when the playoffs roll around, and you need to go that extra yard to score a touchdown with your guests’ taste buds, these Italian sausage-spiced baby back ribs are a proven big game performer. 

If only I could’ve somehow added a few more forced football references into that intro.

Sweet and succulent pork ribs are never a bad addition to the game day buffet, but they can get predictable with the same old rubs and sauces. Here we have all the baby back rib-y goodness you know and love, but with the flavor profile of sweet Italian fennel sausage.

I know a lot of you wrap your ribs in foil for the initial slow/low cooking phase, as do I, but here we’re doing them uncovered to help achieve a slightly chewier, more toothsome texture. These are still quite tender and juicy, but just not too soft, and falling off the bone.

These really did have a wonderful flavor, which was further highlighted by the spicy, sweet, and tangy orange glaze. My only regret was that I didn’t have any hotdog buns around, as I would have pulled out the bones, and served these just like a real sausage sandwich. There’s always a next time.

Anyway, I enjoyed all that rich and fancy holiday feasting as much as anyone, but now all I’m craving is a couch, a cold beer, and a simple plate of ribs…that tastes like sausage. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 racks of baby back ribs:
2 trimmed racks of baby back pork ribs
For the rub:
1 tbsp fennel seed, crushed fine
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste
For the glaze (simmer until reduced by half):
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp hot chili sauce or to taste
1 tbsp orange zest

- Bake ribs at 275 degrees F. for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until fork tender.
- Cut, coat with glaze, and finish in a hot 425 degrees F. oven until caramelized.

View the complete recipe

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta – This Was Anything But Flat

Please do not take this post’s brevity for any kind of lack of enthusiasm or excitement over this very handsome mushroom and ricotta bruschetta. Time’s a little short today, as my car’s left-front tire was fatally injured last night in a brutal pothole attack.

Everyone else is fine, but I didn’t want to delay the uploading of this fine recipe until I had time to do a proper blog post. So basically, I’m phoning this one in. Of course, my biggest fear isn’t that you’ll be disappointed…it’s that you won’t notice that big a difference.

Anyway, this was super tasty, and very simple to make. I show making the ricotta bruschetta part first, but as I mention, you’ll obviously want to have your mushrooms cooking while you prepare the bases. I hope you give this delicious, and very versatile dish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
red chili flakes to taste
4 thick slices of lightly toasted bread
1 tbsp olive oil
For the mushrooms:
2 tbsp butter, divided (half to sauté, half to stir in at end)
1 tbsp olive oil
16 large white mushrooms
1/4 cup green onions and/or 3-4 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

View the complete recipe