Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Weather Outside is Frightful!


I'm sorry I've been on hiatus for so long; school was kicking my butt so I took off for finals and then the holidays crept up and work got really busy. School is about to kick up again, but I hope I will have some great news and more delicious recipes for you all soon. In the meantime, here is a collection of some of my favorite recipes to warm you up on a cold winter's night.

Hot Toddy:

My Hot Toddy recipe is the perfect drink for you and friends to chase away the chill this winter.

Mulled Cider:

My Citrus Mulled Cider, David's Mulled Cider, and my Cranberry Mulled Cider are a bit more kid friendly but just as good at keeping Jack Frost off your nose during this cold spell.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Kaiser Wiener

Well it's October so you know what that means, pumpkin spice everything! Well, yes, but it's also Oktoberfest! So, I'll be putting out a couple recipes celebrating classic German flavors that go perfectly with a cold pint. Let's start off with something I actually came up with last year, that I affectionately call my Kaiser Wiener.

My goal was to come up with a dish that contained as many prototypical German things as I could, and, outside of using a pretzel roll, I think I've done pretty well.

This recipe calls for a slightly obscure dried meat called speck. Speck is a smoked German version of prosciutto. Like prosciutto, it is great raw with cheese or wrapped around melon or asparagus, but when it's fried it cooks up like bacon. If you can't get your hands on speck you could use prosciutto, but I'd recommend very thinly sliced bacon.

The ingredients listed below are per serving so you can scale easily for any size gathering. Also, it is a one skillet method that minimizes clean-up.

Ingredients:

1 club roll
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 German style bratwurst
1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
¼ c speck, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp German mustard
¼ c sauerkraut, well drained*

Directions:

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until water sprinkled on the surface boils and skitters away. Butter the inside of a club roll and toast, butter side down, in the skillet until lightly brown and toasted. Lightly frying in butter helps create a moisture barrier that will help maintain the integrity of the roll when wet toppings (ie. sauerkraut) are introduced.

Set the toasted buns aside and then brown the bratwursts in the skillet until lightly browned on all sides and heated through. Evacuate from the pan.

Pour in the oil and then add the speck. Fry the speck for 3-5 minutes until lightly crisped and browned before removing from the pan and draining.

To assemble, spread mustard on the inside of the bun, layer on the sauerkraut, place on the bratwurst, and cover with the speck. Serve with a nice cold pint of amber and enjoy!

*When I say well drained, I mean I wrapped the sauerkraut in paper towels and squeezed it out. Anything less and you get a very soggy roll even after it has been lightly fried in butter.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Shrimp Bisque

Ok so I actually have a pretty lengthy history with this one. My parents used to do a thing called home exchanges, where a family from somewhere you want to go on vacation to comes and stays in your house and you go stay in there's. It is a good way to get cheap lodging on vacations. One time, when I was still in college, they did one over Mother's Day.

This Mother's Day coincided with my spring break, so I had to leave campus, but I couldn't go home cause there was someone else staying there. I ended up staying with my best friend and celebrating Mother's Day with his family. His mom picked 2 recipies for us to cook for her, a shrimp bisque and beef bourguignon (which my friend kept calling beef boing-boing).

Because Maryland is weird and all spirits stores are closed on Sundays, we ended up having to drive about 45 minutes to go buy the wine from the vineyard. I was helping mostly with the bisque and I liked it so much that I decided to make it my own and it's been one of my go to recipes ever since!

Ingredients:

1lb of shrimp
4 C seafood stock
3 tbsp olive oil
2 C chopped leeks
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 C heavy cream
½ C white wine*
⅓ C tomato paste
¼ tsp cayenne powder
2 sprigs of thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Peel and devein 1 lb of shrimp and reserve the shells. In a 2 quart sauce pan, pour in the seafood stock and the reserved shrimp shells and bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve your new shrimp stock, straining out the shrimp shells.

In a 4 quart stock pot add the olive oil over medium heat and once the oil is shimmering, add the leeks and garlic. Sweat the leeks and garlic for about 3 minutes until the leeks are translucent. Add the butter and melt it down before adding the shrimp and cooking the shrimp until it is pink and opaque. Next, add the flour and stirring until the flour has soaked up all the liquid and the bottom of the pan is dry.

Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the heavy cream, stirring constantly. Once the cream is worked in, add the white wine, tomato paste, and shrimp stock. Stir to thoroughly combine everything. Increase heat to bring to a simmer before adding the remaining spices and cook for 3 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency. You can do this in batches in a normal blender, but it is way easier to keep it all in the pot. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

To make it a meal I serve it with my roasted garlic tomato spread on crostini and some seared trout seasoned with cayenne.

*I recommend a semi-sweet riesling or gewurztraminer. If you go with a dry white it can make it too spicy and overwhelm the shrimp taste and too sweet can really clash with seafood flavors. If you are near or in MD and can get a bottle of Boordy's riesling, that is my personal favorite.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Boerenkool met Wurst

Hopefully, some point soon it will actually be Fall weather here in Pennsylvania, which means it'll be time for hot food and steaming up kitchens. When that glorious day comes, I'll be making Boerenkool met Wurst, which is a great hot meal for a chilly night.

Boerenkool met Wurst, or kale with sausage, is a classic Dutch stamppot. A stamppot is a dish of potatoes mashed with another vegetable, and is a staple of traditional Dutch home cooking. I recommend serving with beef gravy, and if you'd like to make your own I've included a recipe for that too.

I don't remember exactly how I came across this dish, but my wife and I were looking at pictures of odd food and we ended up on one that looked like green mashed potatoes. I was really intrigued and figured I would give it a try. What came about has become one of my favorite one-pot meals that makes great leftovers.

Ingredients:

Stamppot:

3lbs of potatoes
1 qt chicken stock
1 lb kale, trimmed and cut into strips
1 smoked kielbasa
salt and pepper to taste

Beef gravy (optional):

1 qt beef stock
4 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Peel the potatoes and cut into small pieces. Place in a large stock pot and cover with the chicken stock. Top with the kale and the kielbasa. Cover with a lid and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a boil. Boiled for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced easily by a fork.
If you'll be making gravy, while the potatoes are cooking, combine the beef stock and cornstarch in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy thickens. Add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.

Remove the kielbasa and pour the excess water out of the pot, reserving at least 1 cup of cooking liquid. Use a potato masher to combine the kale with the potatoes, adding in some of the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to get a creamy texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the kielbasa into bite-size pieces. Serve a heaping scoop of kale and potatoes, topped with beef gravy, with a fan of sliced kielbasa.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Salted Caramel Sauce

We are almost to my second favorite season, fall, which means it is time for apples, apple cider, and by extension, caramel! Many people are a little intimidated by the thought of cooking sugar, but you shouldn't be. Real caramel is pretty easy to make and tastes way better than store bought.

There are two ways to make caramel: the slow way (wet method), which is a lot safer, and the quick way (dry method), which poses a few more challenges. I recommend trying the slow way until you know what you are looking before trying the quicker way. I'll go over both ways in this post.

Ingredients:

1 c sugar
½ water (wet method only)
1 c heavy cream
1 tsp salt

Directions:

Wet Method:

In a heavy-bottom saucepan with a lid, over low heat combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is totally dissolved. Put the lid on and bring to a boil. (Letting it boil with the lid on helps wash any stray sugar off the side of the pot that might lead to unwanted crystals that can make your caramel grainy.) Once the syrup has been boiling for a minute, remove the lid.

Now, leave it alone. At this point, before heat has changed the sugar into the delicious thing called caramel, if you agitate it too much, the sugar crystals can start to re-combine. This will create a chain reaction that would mean you have to start the whole thing over again. So be extra careful not to jostle the pot in any way.

Keep an eye on your boiling syrup, and when you see it start to turn amber, it is safe to give it a stir. At this point, the sugars are damaged to the point that they won't combine easily. Stir gently to even out any heat pockets.

Continue keeping sharp watch on the sugar syrup and watch the surface for any smoke. As soon as you see it smoking, remove it from the heat and pour in the heavy cream while stirring constantly. The cream is going to come to a rolling boil since the syrup is well over 300 degrees. Some of the sugar will harden instantly upon contact with the cool cream, but don't worry, if you keep stirring, all of that will work itself back in.

When the mixture is smooth and creamy, stir in the salt. You can store your caramel in the fridge for up to a month, but it tastes so good that I doubt it will last that long.

Dry Method:

Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the sugar starts to liquify and brown at the edges, you can use a spatula to gently pull the liquid bits toward the middle to even out the heat. If it burns, the caramel is ruined and you'll have to start over from scratch.

On the other hand, you have to be extremely careful to not over-stir, because if you do and it clumps up, you can ruin the whole batch. If it starts to form clumps, reduce the heat and keep stirring until it is all liquid, and when you're done you'll have to strain out the grainy bits.

If all goes well, keep stirring gently until you get a clear, deep amber before removing from the heat and stirring in the cream and salt and storing as described above.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Korean Spicy Pickles

When Evan and I went for bulgogi a few weeks ago, he introduced me to his favorite topping, spicy pickles. I used to not like pickles, and I still am not a fan of just eating pickles, but I love a good bread and butter pickle on a sandwich or a pit of relish on a good hot dog, and I especially love Korean spicy pickles on my bulgogi.

Ingredients:

2 mini cucumbers or pickling cucumbers
1 tsp salt
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp gochugaru
1 clove of garlic

Directions:

Slice the cucumbers as evenly and thinly as you can. Place in a bowl and sprinkle on the salt before tossing to make sure you have even coverage. Let the cucumber slices sit for 20 minutes to let the salt draw out excess water.

Pour off the water and then add the rest of the ingredients, stir well to combine. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and up to a week. The pickles will get less crisp but spicier the longer they are allowed to marinate.

Enjoy as a surprisingly refreshing snack or as a perfect compliment to some bulgogi.

As always, if you enjoy my work and want would like to support me and my blog, please consider subscribing to me on Patreon. My subscribers have already helped me get rid of ads and get some snazzy business cards!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Cajun Seasoning Blend

I generally discourage buying pre made spice mixes. They usually have way too much salt in them, and will generally lumb most of the ingredients together under spices or natural flavoring to protect proprietary blends. Making your own can be a less expensive, healthier, and you know what you're getting.

A cajun spice blend is a great thing to have on hand if you want to add some concentrated flavor to a dish, blacken some seafood, or make a phenomenal piece of chicken or steak.

Like I have done before, I did this recipe out in parts to make it easy to make as little or as much as you want.

Ingredients:

1.5 of smoked paprika
1 of garlic powder
1 of onion powder
1 of thyme leaves
1 of white pepper
1 of dried basil
1 of dried oregano
1 of cayenne pepper
1 of chile powder

Directions:

Combine all in a glass jar and seal. Sprinkle on steak, chicken, seafood, or anything that needs a good kick of Louisiana flavor.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tenderloin with Pesto

I love steak. All kinds of steak. Tenderloin is a great cut, but, since it is so lean, it can dry out easily. It is my wife's favorite cut because it has so little connective tissue. But, steaks with more fat and tissue are more flavorful. Serving it with an herbed finishing butter or an oil based sauce, like pesto, helps keep this tender cut super moist and gives it great flavor.

Ingredients:

2 ⅓lb tenderloin steaks
salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp cashew pesto

Directions:

About 1/2 and hour to an hour before you are cooking your steaks, remove them from the fridge and liberally season each side with salt. This will let the meat come to room temperature which helps ensure an even level of doneness since there won't be any really cold spots. The salt keeps any undesirables from growing on the surface and pulls protein laden moisture to the outside which helps form the great crust you are looking for on any well seared steak.

10 minutes before cook time, heat a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat. You want enough heat to get a good sear, but you want to make sure you have even heat. Cast iron does a great job of evenly dispersing heat, but it works best when it's put on medium heat and let to heat up slowly.

Preheat your broiler on high. Add the olive oil to your skillet and sear your steaks for 2 min per side, around 12 minutes total. Everytime you flip your steak try to position it on an unused piece of the skillet so you get maximum heat for the best possible crust.

Once the steak is well seared on all sides, place your steaks in the skillet under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. I recommend checking the internal temp at 3 minutes and removing the steaks when they are 5-10 degrees from your target temp.

Remove from under the broiler and spoon 1 tbsp of the pesto on each steak. Let the steaks rest, uncovered, in the skillet, for 10 minutes before serving.

I recommend serving with crushed fingerling potatoes and a good merlot.

If you enjoyed this recipe and want to support me and my content, please consider subscribing to my Patreon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Week Off

Hey everyone, I know I just committed to posting in a more regular fashion, but I'm going to be taking this week off. Grad school just started, and I need some time for that and for building up my back stock of recipes for busy weeks. I'll see you all next week. Happy cooking!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mango Lassi

Never let it be said that I don't love my wife. At the very start of this I made it clear that there were certain foods I don't like cooking with, but when your wife asks for a yogurt smoothie, you make her a yogurt smoothie.

A Lassi is a Indian spiced yogurt smoothie. It is something that is typically a savory drink, but it can be blended with fruit, like mango, to make it sweet. In India this drink is made with dahi, but that isn't readily available in the States, so plain full fat or whole milk yogurt is a good substitute.

Ingredients:

2 C frozen mango
½ C milk
½ C plain whole milk yogurt
¼ C honey
¼ tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to the carafe of your blender and blend until smooth. Poor into a glass and enjoy. Optionally, garnish with mint and a cinnamon stick.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Beef Bulgogi

My mom used to make bulgogi for us a lot when I was a kid. I'd always loved it, but I wasn't sure how authentic it was. Recently, I finally got to compare it to the genuine article.

In the last year, I've been fortunate to make a great friend, Evan. He's a really talented artist. He's also, possibly, an even bigger foodie than me. I've been down to his neck of the woods a few times and we always go on some pretty fun food adventures. He's the one who took me to get my first taste of real ramen. Recently, we went to get Korean BBQ and I finally got to see how my mom's recipe compares to the real McCoy.

It turns out that her flavors are spot on, but the technique isn't. So, I took my mom's recipe, applied a more authentic method, and came up with something great.

Ingredients:

1 lb ribeye
4 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
2 cloves crushed garlic
¼ C chopped green onion
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Directions:

One of the defining features of bulgogi is very thin slices of beef. To make that easier, place your steak in the freezer for 1.5 to 2 hours., not enough to freeze solid, but just enough to be stiff. Cut into slices as thin as your knife will allow. Set aside.

In a tupperware or sealable container, combine the remaining ingredients. Mix well to combine. Add in the sliced steak and stir to thoroughly coat the pieces. Place in the fridge and let it marinate for 1-2 hours.

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and reserve any leftover marinade. Sear the steak, 1 minute per side, and set it aside to rest. Pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, and reduce to a syrup. Pour the syrup over the resting meat and mix it with any juices from the resting meat so everything is nicely sauced. Garnish with more chopped green onion.

Serve over rice or in lettuce wraps. As with most of Korean BBQ, the sides make the meal and I suggest kimchi, kongnamool (Korean mung beans), or spicy pickle.

As always, if you enjoy my work and want would like to support me and my blog, please consider subscribing to me on Patreon. My subscribers have already helped me get rid of ads and get some snazzy business cards!

Friday, August 18, 2017

On Comfort Food

I've made plenty of comfort food in the course of this blog, from meatloaf to meatballs, donuts, grillswith, and plenty of drinks. But I have a confession, none of those are my true comfort food. Since I claim to be a foodie, you might think that my comfort food might be something unorthodox or off the wall. No, it's pretty much the exact opposite of that. My ultimate comfort food is hot dogs, blue box mac and cheese, and cinnamon applesauce.

To most people, comfort food is something that is easy or at least familiar, high in fat or carbs, so it makes you feel warm, full, and comfortable. But, for me, comfort food also has to tie into a memory of eating that gives some measure of peace.

My comfort food is my comfort food because it is the food that most clearly brings me back to memories of my father. My dad was a horrible cook. He used to tell me that his version of gourmet cooking was a hot dog, split down the middle, with a strip of bacon, and wrapped in a slice of American cheese. When my mom went out of town, dad would do his best and make mac and cheese, boiled hot dogs, and apple sauce. It was his attempt to serve a balanced meal that didn't take much work or involve too much cleanup.

If you follow my Patreon, you'll know if been working on a project to make a viking shield for myself to take to the Renaissance Faire. It's just the kind of wood working project my dad would have been proud of me for doing and every time I hit a snag or get frustrated I feel his absence more and more. That, and the upcoming anniversary of my father's passing, has him on my mind a lot recently.

So, as I made my plate of hot dogs, mac and cheese, and applesauce, I thought I would share with you all why that meal, more than any other, is what I turn to when I'm feeling stressed, panicked or overwhelmed.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Fruit Punch Beer

So awhile ago I saw a recipe for this that was really not well thought out and I decided that I needed to rectify it, because I like the concept. This is a really great drink for some last parties at the end of summer or for tailgating through the fall. It's sweet and fruity so some people will inevitably call it girly, but something that is refreshing and easy to drink is something we all should be able to enjoy.

I've called this a summer recipe since it focuses on summer fruits, but plenty of other fruits would work great and could go into plenty of seasonal varieties.

Ingredients:

2 C sliced strawberries
2 C blueberries
3 peaches, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces
⅔ C sugar
Summer Shandy*

Directions:

Combine the berries, peaches, and sugar in a large container and stir to coat everything evenly with the sugar. Store, covered, in the fridge for about an hour so the sugar can build a heavy syrup.

Scoop ¼ cup of the fruit and syrup into the bottom of a pint glass or tulip glass and carefully pour on the summer shandy. Store any leftovers in the freezer, makes a great way to keep your beer cold without diluting it.

*I think a summer shandy works best with this recipe, but a great alternative would be a Belgian style white beer (witbier) like Blue Moon. It also works really well with an Agave IPA. A light lager or pilsner would do, but you'll miss out on some of the more fruity flavors.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Cheesy Roasted Garlic Bread

I actually first started roasting garlic to make this bread. I can't believe that it's taken me so long to put this here. It was a few years ago when my fish monger Adam suggested a variant of this bread, but I think it has been perfected here.

Roasting garlic gives it a much deeper, sweet flavor, so despite how much garlic is in this, it's not as harsh as garlic powder based breads.

Ingredients:

3 bulbs of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 stick of butter
½ tsp of salt
1 loaf of soft crusty bread like ciabatta or batard
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese*
1 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450. This is a good toaster oven recipe since we aren't dealing with large amounts

Cut the tops off each bulb of garlic so that the cloves are exposed. Rub the exposed garlic with the olive oil and wrap in tin-foil, leaving a little spout for steam, and roast for an hour, or until the cloves are caramelized.

Remove from the oven and let them cool until you can handle them before squeezing the caramelized cloves into a blender. Add the salt and butter and blend until creamy.

Slice your loaf open into halves and then into quarters. Spread an equal amount of the butter mixture onto each piece before sprinkling each piece with mozzarella and parmesan. Place the slices on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil and grill under a broiler set on high until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.

Let it cool and set, but enjoy it while the cheese is still good and melty.

If you enjoyed this recipe and want to support me and my content, please consider subscribing to my Patreon.

*This bread can be as cheesy as you want it, but if you pile too much on the cheese will simply melt off.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Grilled Ham and Pineapple Skewers

A couple weeks ago my work was demo-ing grilled maple flavored ham and pineapple skewers. I thought they tasted great, but I figured I could improve on the concept, make it more sophisticated.

I'll be including instructions on how to do this on a stove top grill pan, but this would work equally well, if not better, on a real grill. The cooking times would just need a bit of adjusting.

Ingredients:

olive or vegetable oil
2 ⅛" thick ham slices
1 lb fresh pineapple spears or rounds
3 tbsp gin aged maple syrup
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat a grill pan over medium heat until a spritz of water on it evaporates immediately. Brush on the some olive or vegetable oil and lay on your ham slices and pineapple spears. Let them cook on one side until definite grill marks develope and you get good caramelization on the pineapple, flip and repeat.

Remove and let cool before cutting into bite size pieces and arranging on large toothpicks or sandwich spears. Brush liberally with the gin maple syrup, good quality plain maple syrup will work great too, before evenly sprinkling on the fresh thyme and black pepper. Serve and enjoy!

If you liked this recipe please consider supporting me and my content on Patreon. For more info on my patreon, check out my previous post!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cream of Crab Soup

My dad used to speak rather wistfully of ordering cream of crab soup and how you could make sure it was authentic by asking for a shot of sherry on the side. If the restaurant in question couldn't provide, you knew it wasn't going to be right, but if they did, or they said it was already in the soup, you knew you were in the right place.

Traditionally, Cream of Crab Soup is made with only white ingredients. It's a rather outdated look, but I'm a sucker for more traditional presentations. Because this doesn't have Old Bay in it, this isn't Maryland Cream of Crab Soup, but it does taste great with Old Bay if you want to put a Chesapeake twist on it.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 C finely chopped white onion
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1 C heavy cream
3 C whole milk
1 lb lump crab meat
3 oz medium dry sherry
salt and white pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan before adding the onions and salt. Sweat the onions for about 10 minutes until translucent and before they take on color. Sprinkle on the flour and stir until the flour is coating all the onions and has absorbed any moisture in the pan.

Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the heavy cream stirring constantly so the cream doesn't break.Once the flour is all dissolved in the cream, pour in the milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce to desired consistency, stirring often to prevent a skin forming on top, and gently stir in the lumb crab meat and sherry. Add salt and white pepper to taste and serve.

I recommend serving with my Roasted Garlic Tomato Spread on some toasted baguette. The tang and acid go great with the sweetness of this soup.

If you liked this recipe please consider supporting me and my content on Patreon. For more info on my patreon, check out my previous post!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Maryland Crab Cake

I'm from Maryland, and one of the things being from Maryland means is having really strong feelings about crab, and especially what makes a good crab cake. I'm no exception. In my eyes, a crab cake should be jumbo lump blue crab with minimal filler and plenty of Old Bay. It should be eaten with a fork or in a sandwich and is not a deep fried fritter to be eaten by hand.

But, most of all, it should be simple and straightforward. A crab cake should be all about the crab and too much dressing up just gets in the way.

Ingredients:

½ c chopped fresh parsley
8 (or ½ c) crushed saltines
½ tsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Old Bay or crab seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1 lb jumbo lump blue crab

Directions:

Preheat your broiler on high. Thoroughly combine everything except the crabmeat before gently folding in the crab. Jumbo lump is fragile stuff, and if you mix it too hard it will break apart into strings, which will defeat the purpose of using jumbo lump.

Once the mixture is well incorporated, divide into 4 lightly packed portions on a well greased baking sheet. Broil on high for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let sit for 2 minutes before serving.

Serve, garnished with a bit of fresh parsley and a bit of lemon or, my prefered method, on a toasted roll with a bit of tarter sauce and some lemon.

I would tell you to enjoy, but I'm pretty sure you're going to do that anyway.

If you liked this recipe please consider supporting me and my content on Patreon. For more info on my patreon, check out my previous post!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chesapeake Burger

If, like me, you have leftover deviled egg with crab filling, it might go great on some crackers, but it goes even better on a burger. It's an easy way to turn up the flavor on your traditional burger and add some Maryland flair to an American classic.

Ingredients:

Topping:

1 cup of deviled egg with crab filling
56 grams finely grated cheddar cheese

Patty:

1lb of ground beef
1 tbsp Old Bay or crab seasoning
2 tbsp unseasoned bread crumbs

Directions:

To make the topping, gently fold the cheese into the leftover filling and set aside.

Mix together the beef, Old Bay, and bread crumbs and form into 4 equal sized patties. Heat a skillet, griddle, or grill pan over medium high heat. Cook each patty 3-5 minutes on each side until cooked through or a meat thermometer reads 125.

Preheat your broiler on high.

Spread a portion of the topping on each burger and place under the broiler and broil until the topping forms a light golden brown crust. Serve on a kaiser roll spread with a little mayo or tarter sauce and garnished with some crisp lettuce and a meaty tomato slice.

If you like this recipe and would like to support me and my work, please consider supporting me on my Patreon. If you'd like some more info on Patreon, check out my previous post here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Patreon

Today, I am announcing the launch of my Patreon! For those who don't know, Patreon is a way for people to sponsor content creators on a long-term basis. It is a way for creatives on the internet to earn money doing what they love outside of more traditional ad revenue models and really connect with the people who make all this possible.

In my case, you can commit to a monthly subscription of any amount you choose. Higher amounts unlock rewards, or ways for me to say thank you for your support and generosity.

I've been doing this blog for almost 2 years now, and it's something I'd really like to keep going far into the future. But, for me to do that, I'm going to need a little help.

Don't worry, my recipes will always be free for everyone. As will any food videos that I will hopefully put out in the future. This isn't a way to pay for my content, just a way to support me so I can make better content.

You should take this Patreon launch as my commitment to—outside of emergencies, vacations, or final exams—make 2 posts per week. Thank you so much for supporting me. Even if you don't give through Patreon, thank you so much for being here. You all have made this a joy for me.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Deviled Eggs with Crab

Early last week I was talking to some of my co-workers, and as often happens with me, the conversation turned to food. One of them introduced me to a concept I had never heard of, deviled eggs with crab. I had already been on a bit of a crab kick (more of that to come later) and so I instantly decided that I needed to make those.

They turned out to be really easy to make, the hardest bit is to peel all the eggs, and they taste amazing.

Ingredients:

12 eggs
1 tsp mustard
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1.5 tsp Old Bay
1 green onion, chopped fine
½ C mayo
8 oz crab claw meat

Directions:

In a large pot, place your dozen eggs and cover with and inch of water. Optionally, add 1 tbsp of white vinegar to keep egg from leaking out of any that might have cracked. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat and then kill the heat and let them sit in the pot for 10-12 minutes. Shock the eggs in a water and ice bath to cool them quickly, which, in my experience, is the best way to make them easy to peel. Peel the eggs then slice them in half long ways and extracting the yolks.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, mustard, parsley, Old Bay, onion, and mayo. Mix well before adding in the claw meat and stirring thoroughly.

Spoon a heaping amount of the filling into each egg half and serve.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Agua de Limon with Chia

Right after we first moved to our current apartment, my dad stopped by to visit and took my wife and me out to eat at a local Mexican place. They had a great selection of aquas frescas, or fresh fruit waters, and we decided to try the agua de limon. It tasted great, but had this weird gel-like stuff in it. The waiter couldn't remember what it was, and that restaurant changed hands and stopped serving that drink.

It wasn't until a couple years later, when I was looking more into health foods, that I figured out that chia seeds had been the secret ingredient. I have recreated it here, so please enjoy my take on a really refreshing Mexican lemonade.

Ingredients:

6.5 cups water, divided
1 ⅓ cups fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup chia seeds
1 cup demerara or raw sugar

Directions:

In a large jar or pitcher, combine 6 cups of water, the lemon juice, and the chia seeds. Stir well to combine.

In a small saucepan, pour in the last half cup of water and add the sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is just dissolved, making a heavy syrup. Add 1 cup of the heavy syrup to the lemon and water mixture and stir well to combine.

Let the mixture sit for at least 15 minutes before serving: this will allow the chia seeds to start to expand and make their gel, which is what gives this drink its unique texture. The gel will continue to thicken as the drink sits, so in my opinion it hits its peak after being stored in the fridge overnight.

Pour over ice and enjoy this refreshing and nutritious take on lemonade.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bourbon Maple Chocolate Bread Pudding

When I first received my legendary bottle of bourbon maple syrup, I immediately thought of making a bread pudding. As I thought about it more and more, this amazing creation began to take shape and I ended up with what, in my humble opinion, is one of best bread puddings I've ever had.

Warning: this one takes a while, but I promise that it's worth it. If you are patient you'll be rewarded with creamy bread pudding and a phenomenal depth of flavor.

Prep time: 10 hours
Cook time: 30-45 minutes

Ingredients:

½ loaf of challah
3 C milk
2 tbsp butter
½ C bourbon maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon
2 oz dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
3 eggs
2 strips of bacon cooked and broken into pieces

Directions:

Cut the challah into 1 inch cubes and allow them to sit out for 8 hours or overnight to stale and dry. After the bread has dried, put it in a greased 2 quart baking dish.

Next, add the milk, butter, syrup, and bourbon to a medium saucepan and heat on low until the butter melts, then stir in the chocolate, making sure it is thoroughly melted and mixed before removing the mixture from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool before whisking in the 3 eggs. Pour the mixture over the bread and stash in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and allow it to come to room temp while you preheat your oven to 350. Top the mixture with the bacon pieces* before baking for 30-45 minutes or until the outside is set and the middle still has a little wobble. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

*For even more flavor, top with bourbon maple glazed bacon.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Scotch Sour


One of my goals in life is to know a few cocktails that I can whip out whenever company is over or I feel like a drink. I've always enjoyed sour cocktails, especially whiskey sours, but I was out of bourbon so I decided to try Scotch instead. It was delicious. I added a bit of my own flair by making a simple syrup with demerara sugar and created this simple, refreshing, easy drinking cocktail.


Ingredients:

Ice
1 part demerara simple syrup*
1 part fresh lemon juice
2 parts Scotch
Lemon peel (optional)
Maraschino cherry (optional)

Directions:

Fill the bottom of a cocktail shaker with ice and add your simple syrup, lemon juice, and Scotch. Shake for 10 seconds to thoroughly combine the ingredients and lightly aerate it. Strain it into an ice-filled lowball glass or tumbler or straight up (no ice) into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel and maraschino cherry.

Raise your glass, toast your friends, and enjoy!

*Simple syrup is made by bringing equal parts water and sugar to a boil and stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it cool and store in a squirt bottle in the fridge for up to a month. Simple syrup is better than sugar in cocktails because it dissolves in cold water. I like demerara sugar in this application because it adds a great depth of flavor to cocktails.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Breakfast Burrito

So when I started my diet I wanted to make something that I could consistently make and eat without getting bored. That meant it needed to have meat, it needed to have cheese, and it needed to be packed with flavor. It also helps that I can prefab a lot of the pieces so it doesn't take much time in the morning.

Ingredients:

2 scrambled eggs
28 grams grated cheddar cheese
56 grams cooked turkey sausage
50 grams avocado
⅛ tsp red pepper flake
1 flour tortilla*

Directions:

Right after you finish cooking your scrambled eggs, using whatever method you prefer, sprinkle on the cheese and lay on the sausage. I like to do this while the eggs are still in the pan so the cheese gets nice and melted on top** and the sausage gets warmed through.

In a bowl, combine the avocado and the red pepper flake and use a fork to beat into a paste. Spread your paste on one quarter of your tortilla then lay on the eggs, cheese, and sausage. fold over the sides and one end and roll into a burrito.

Enjoy with a smoothie or some fresh orange juice.

*I love using flavored tortillas for this since it adds some nice color and it's an easy way to work some variety into a routine

**I don't recommend mixing the cheese into the eggs first because it's not much cheese and it can get lost. I prefer the layer of flavor on top. Also, mixing the cheese into the eggs makes the eggs much more liquidy and more likely to make a drippy mess all in your lap, or in my case, my beard.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Maple Old Fashioned

Recently I got to go on vacation and spent a few days with some friends having a blast in Vermont. While we were there, we went for a whisky tasting at Saxton River Distillery where they have amazing maple infused whiskeys and some great gin. I'd been wanting to use my bourbon maple syrup in a cocktail and I think I found a great match in this maple old fashioned.

Because this is a sweeter old fashioned it's not much of an aperitif (before dinner), I'd recommend it as a great after dinner cocktail.

Ingredients:

1 tsp bourbon maple syrup
4 dashes angostura bitters
2 oz maple bourbon
Ice
Maraschino cherry

Directions:

In a lowball glass combine the syrup, bitters, and bourbon and stir well. Add several large ice cubes and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Miso Ramen with Chashu

Here it finally is: my ramen recipe! One of the best things about ramen is how versatile it is. A basic broth with ramen noodles can host a whole bunch of toppings. I'll list out some of my favorites, but it is only a fraction of the whole world of toppings and condiments you can add.

Ingredients:

Base per serving:

2 cups dashi
1½ tbsp white miso
½ tbsp red miso
¼-½ cups of cooked ramen or soba noodles

Toppings:

Chashu
Marinated Tofu
Blanched bean sprouts
Corn
Sliced scallions
Soft boiled egg

Directions:

In a small sauce pan, stir the two flavors of miso into the dashi and bring to a simmer. Place your noodles into your soup bowl, layer on your prefered toppings, and pour on the hot broth. Let the soup sit for a minute to give everything time to heat up before enjoying.

This makes a really great build-your-own meal with plenty of toppings and a big pot of broth for everyone.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chashu

Chashu is Japanese BBQ pork. It's extremely delicious and tender. It's great by itself, but it's also the perfect pork to add to your ramen. This is the last piece of the puzzle before I put out my ramen recipe. I hope the wait has been worth it!

This recipe calls for using a unique piece of hardware called an otoshibuta. An otoshibuta helps your food cook in a steam environment, but allows enough vapor loss to reduce a sauce. It's placed directly on the cooking liquid, which helps keep big bubbles from forming so delicate foods aren't broken apart.

Don't worry, I don't have one either, but it's extremely easy to make one out of parchment paper and here is a link to the instructions. I don't recommend making one out of tin foil because aluminum and acid doesn't mix well.

Ingredients:

1 lb pork belly
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ c water
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup sake
¼ cup dark brown or demerara sugar
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 scallions, sliced
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2" piece of ginger, sliced


Directions:

Salt both sides of the pork belly. Pour the olive oil into a cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat until the oil starts to lightly smoke. Lay the pork belly in the oil, fat side down, and sear for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Flip and repeat. Remove from the skillet and let it rest.

In a heavy-bottom pot, like a dutch oven, add the remaining ingredients and the pork belly. Bring the whole thing to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover with the otoshibuta and simmer for 1 hour, turning the pork over every 10 minutes.

After an hour, you should have a thick sauce. Roll the pork belly in the sauce to make sure you have even coverage on all sides. Take it out of the pot and let it rest for about 15-20 minutes before slicing thin and serving by itself, over noodles, or with ramen.

For some added flavor and color, lightly sear under a boiler or with a propane or culinary torch.

If you plan on storing for later, place your slices in a zip-top bag with the remaining sauce. Make sure you get most of the air out so the slices get good, even coverage. They should keep for about a week in the fridge.

To reheat, just pour your piping hot ramen broth on top or lightly sear in a medium-heat skillet.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Miso Soup

Earlier I wrote about wanting to make my own ramen, which means I had to start with making dashi, a Japanese seafood stock. Once I'd made that, it was just a little bit more to make miso soup so I decided to try my hand at that too.

Like plenty of Japanese cooking, this isn't about using a lot of ingredients, it's about making the most from a few. It's about balance. In miso soup, you are balancing savory with salty and smooth with crunchy.

Serves: 1
Cook time: 10 min

Ingredients:

2 cups dashi
1.5 tbsp white miso
½ tbsp red miso
1 scallion
3 oz firm silken tofu

Directions:

Bring your dashi to a simmer and pour ¼ cup into a bowl. Add the red and white miso into the same bowl and stir well until all lumps are gone. Pour the miso mixture back into the rest of the dashi and heat on low to keep warm.

Cut your scallions into small slices and your tofu into small cubes and place in the bottom of your soup bowl, mug, or bucket. Pour the hot broth in and let sit for a minute to allow the tofu to warm up before enjoying with some sake or green tea!

Please note: the combination of miso flavors is up to you. White miso is lighter in color and flavor but has good body and mild sweetness. Red miso is much more flavorful, but too much will have your soup tasting like soy sauce. This 3:1 ratio is my preferred ratio, but feel free to experiment to find what you like.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dashi

Like most of my generation, I spent a lot of time in college eating ramen. Ever since then, I've wanted to make my own from scratch, which, for most ramens, means starting with dashi. Dashi is an extremely simple seafood stock that is the base of many Japanese soups, but it's also great for sipping on if you've got a cold or need something to warm you up.

This recipe is sized for a single serving and is about as small a batch as you might want to make. This means it should be easy to scale up for any application.

Cook time: 20 min.
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

2 cups cold water
1 gram kombu (approx 2"x4.5")
5 grams bonito flakes (about ½ cup)

Directions:

Place the kombu into a small saucepan and pour two cups of cold water over it. Put over medium heat and cover for about 10 minutes. Remove the kombu just before it starts to simmer. I wait for bubbles to form on the bottom and take it out just before they start to break. If the kombu boils, it can turn bitter.
When the bottom of your saucepan looks like this, it's time to remove the kombu.

Add the bonito flakes to the water and bring it to a simmer. Hold at a simmer for 1 minute. If it simmers for too long, it will make the stock cloudy as the flakes fall apart. After 1 minute, remove from the heat and let it steep for 7 minutes. Strain and add enough water to bring it back to two cups.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week or portion and freeze for up to a month. Large portions can be used as a soup base while small portions can help fortify sauces and stir-fries.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bourbon Maple Peppery Salmon

I think my favorite thing about crispy skin salmon is that it looks quite impressive, but it's actually quite easy. This recipe takes advantage of the fact that maple goes surprisingly well with all different kinds of peppers. I'm still using my amazing bourbon maple syrup, but don't worry, this one works brilliantly with regular syrup too.

Since I've already put up a more in-depth guide on how to make crispy skin salmon, I'm not going to bore you with repeating all the details (just the basics here). I'll simply leave a link to the previous recipe here in case you need a refresher.

Ingredients:

4-6 oz salmon filet with the skin on
Salt
Pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp bourbon aged maple syrup
⅛ tsp red pepper flake
⅛ tsp ground white pepper

Directions:

Lightly score the skin of the salmon and salt and pepper both sides. Pour the olive oil into a cast iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. While the oil heats up, mix together the syrup, red pepper and white pepper.

Once the oil is shimmering, place the salmon in the pan, skin-side down, making sure to lay it away from you. When the salmon is in the pan, give the pan a little shake to keep the skin from sticking.

Once the salmon is cooked about three-quarters of the way through, flip onto the flesh side and lightly brush the skin side with the peppery syrup. After 30 seconds, flip the salmon out onto a plate and brush the flesh side with the remaining syrup.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dark Side Shot

Yesterday was Star Wars Day, but today is the Revenge of the 5th. I wanted to make a drink in celebration. My Dark Side Shot is nearly black with just a hint of red. It goes down easy, just like succumbing to the Dark Side of the Force.

Ingredients:
½ oz kahlua
1 oz raspberry schnapps

Directions:
Pour the kahlua and schnapps into a shot glass and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bourbon Maple Glazed Bacon

For Easter, my mother-in-law gave me a bottle of bourbon aged maple syrup. It was amazing. I've already used it up and bought a second. So, expect to see it featured in plenty of upcoming recipes. One of the first things I thought of when I tasted it was bacon. I'd never glazed my own bacon and every time I baked bacon, it turned out wrong. Now, after a little experimentation, I've come up with a method I like.

Ingredients:

8 or 9 strips of thick cut bacon
2 oz bourbon aged maple syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While you oven heats up, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a cooling rack on top.
Lay your bacon on the rack and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to brown. Remove from the oven. There will be a lot of liquid fat in the pan so be careful and feel free to drain it off.

Brush one side of the bacon with the coats of the maple syrup and then bake for 3-5 minutes. Remove again from the oven, flip the bacon, and brush the other side with another two coats before baking an additional 3 minutes or until desired crispiness. My wife likes hers nearly burnt while I like mine with a little flop.

Remove from the oven and let cool, though I recommend not letting the bacon cool entirely on the rack because the maple syrup will adhere the bacon to the rack.

This bacon is amazing by itself, with eggs, or even a cheese platter.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Super Wok

I love Chinese takeout. One of the first things I needed to find as soon as my wife and I settled down was a reliable and quality Chinese takeout place. Luckily for me, the first place I tried turned out to be the best!

Super Wok is a small dine-in or carry-out restaurant on the edge of Norristown, PA. Its menu features all the Chinese-American classics, all done very well. It has a good selection of inexpensive and generous lunch specials that feature an entree and a side of pork fried rice. All are under $6.00 and each has enough food for two meals. Everything there tastes fresh; since it tends to be pretty busy for lunch and dinner, you don't have to worry about food getting old. Everything is cooked to order.

The kitchen is spotless, which I think might be one of the most important indicators of quality for any establishment, especially in a busy place. If a restaurant is clean and empty, it could just mean the staff are bored; if it's clean and busy, they have high standards.

My wife and I have always enjoyed the food we get there. My personal favorites are the mushu pork and the General Tso's chicken. My wife really likes the sesame chicken and the wonton soup. But, today I discovered my favorite thing: the doughnuts.

They serve Chinese doughnuts, 10 for $3.25, and oh my god it was a struggle to save any for my wife. Deliciously golden brown and rolled in sugar, light and fluffy on the inside, with a great savory depth from the frying oil. They are perfection and are currently the biggest threat to my diet.

My only criticism is that Super Wok could use a little improving on its customer service. I can't blame the staff for not speaking much English, but a little friendlier attitude would go a long way, especially when it's busy.

Criticism aside, Super Wok is my favorite Chinese take-out joint nearby, and if you live in the Norristown, PA, area you should definitely try it out.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ham Chowder

After Easter a lot of people have plenty of leftover ham. My mother-in-law had purchased an entire extra ham, and insisted I take a freezer bag full of ham back home with me. My wife doesn't like ham any where near as much as I do, so I decided to make a great soup to help me use up a bag full of ham.

Serves: 10
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, diced
½ lbs frozen corn
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp dried basil leaves
2 tbsp flour
6 cups milk
2 lbs russet potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1.5 lbs ham
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp cayenne powder


Optional:

Diced chives
Shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Pour the olive oil into a stock pot or large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the corn, thyme, and basil and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour until all moisture on the bottom of the pot is absorbed then turn the heat to low.

Slowly pour in the milk while vigorously whisking. Once all the milk is in, add the potatoes, bring the soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and easily pierced by a fork.

At this point you have a fairly thin soup, if you like it that way, feel free to add the ham and the rest of the seasonings and serve. If, like me, you want it thick and creamy, grab your handy stick blender and blend until creamy. After you get the consistency right, add the ham and the rest of the seasonings and serve garnished with the chives and cheddar cheese.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mushroom and Sausage Stir Fry

The other day, one of my coworkers was complaining about how much she doesn't like mushrooms so I was inspired to make a mushroom centered stir fry. I promise it was nothing personal. I wanted to make this dish healthy so I decided to cook with chicken sausage for the protein.

One of the things I love about cooking with chicken sausage is that it tends to come in a wide variety of creative flavors. It makes it fun and easy to create some very flavorful combinations. While this recipe calls for a specific flavor of sausage, any savory chicken sausage should do the trick.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup sliced maitake mushrooms
5 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms
8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 lb. garlic and herb chicken sausage
½ c chicken stock
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
½ tsp rubbed sage
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
½ tsp salt
½ cup chopped scallion greens

Directions:

In a nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Once the oil is hot, add the maitake mushrooms. Saute, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms start to brown around the edges. Add the rest of the mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly until they're browned as well before adding the sausage.

Saute the sausage until cooked through then deglaze the pan with the stock. Make sure you scrape any stuck on bits off the bottom, you don't want to give up on those flavors. Bring to a simmer and add the worcestershire sauce, sage, thyme, and salt and reduce to till the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions before serving with rice, pasta, or quinoa. Enjoy!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Andouille Apple Stir Fry

I was trying to come up with something for dinner and I was standing in the produce section of my local mega mart. I thought, "What kind of vegetation doesn't usually end up in stir fries?" and I immediately thought of fruit. I've had some really great sausages that contained fruit, so I thought of making a sausage and apple stir fry. I wanted it to be sweet and spicy, so I added some apple cider and a bit of agave syrup. It turned out brilliantly, and I wanted to share it with you.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 large, sweet apple, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 lb of andouille, sliced
½ cup apple cider
3 tbsp of agave syrup

Directions:

In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil to a simmer, add the jalapenos, and saute until lightly browned. Add the onion and apple and saute until they are translucent. Stir in the andouille before pouring on the apple cider and agave syrup.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid forms a syrupy consistency, which will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve over rice, pasta, or quinoa.

Andouille is pretty spicy stuff, so I won't blame you if you decide to skip the jalapenos. I also recommend serving with some sour cream and a hard cider to dull the fire.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Raspberry Syrup

I love raspberries, and I especially love raspberry syrup on pancakes and waffles. When I was looking around for a good recipe, I kept seeing people calling for fresh raspberries, and that just doesn't make any sense to me. When frozen berries thaw, they release more juice, which I think is exactly what you want for making syrup. Plus, they are way cheaper and more available year-round.

This syrup works great on pancakes and waffles and in a range of delicious mixed drinks, like a raspberry tequila sunrise.

Ingredients:

1 lb frozen raspberries
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Directions:

Pour raspberries into a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil then, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

Once the raspberries have started to loose their color, strain the liquid into another saucepan. Don't press on the berries to extract more juice—it will just make the syrup cloudy, and you've already gotten what they have to give.

Add the sugar and vanilla and bring to a simmer. Hold it at a simmer until it reaches the consistency you like. I find 10 minutes to be the perfect time, because it will give you a syrup that has enough body to be used as a topping but is thin enough to mix easily into cocktails. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

Remove from the heat and let it cool before storing in a glass jar or bottle in the fridge. The syrup should stay good for a few weeks, but it tastes so good I doubt it will last that long.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Whipped Cream

This is my go-to recipe for whipped cream. It's not too sweet, so the freshness of the cream shines through. A hint of vanilla adds a little depth to one of the staples of the dessert topping world.

This recipe calls for powdered sugar because powdered sugar has cornstarch in it, and that helps the whipped cream hold its stiffness over time.

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Pour all of the ingredients into a chilled mixing bowl with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Chill and enjoy.

If you plan on storing your whipped cream for any length of time, be sure to seal it in an airtight container with cling film pressed directly on the whipped cream. Since there is so much fat in whipped cream, it can attract bad fridge smells and tastes if not properly sealed.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

About a week ago, I woke up with a hankering for some lemon poppy seed bread. So, I decided to make some. I looked around, couldn't find a recipe I liked, so I made my own. This goes really great with a citrusy black tea like Earl Grey.

Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 1hr 20 min

Ingredients:

Bread

400 grams AP flour (aprx 14 oz or 3 cups) plus some for the
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup butter or shortening
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
2 tbsp lemon juice*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp poppy seeds

Syrup:

⅔ cup sugar
⅓ cup lemon juice*

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a nine inch loaf pan.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and pour in the sugar. Beat on medium for 2 to 3 minutes or until the butter has lightened in color. This is called the creaming method, and the holes that the sugar punch in the butter help it to rise once it starts baking.

Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Once the eggs are all in, pour in the milk then the lemon juice and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Now slowly add the dry mix, in 3 batches, making sure each installment is mixed in before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed between batches. Once the dry team is all in, turn your mixer to low and add the lemon zest and poppy seeds. Mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour into your loaf pan and bake for 1hr 15-20 min until a toothpick inserted in comes out clean or the bread reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees. Remove from the oven and let cool, in the pan, on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling on the rack for another 20 minutes.

While the bread is cooling, it's time to make the syrup. Pour the sugar and lemon juice into a small saucepan over medium low heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Keep the syrup warm until the bread is finished cooling. Once the bread is cool, use a basting brush to brush the syrup on all sides, except the bottom.

When the bread has absorbed all the syrup it can, let it rest for a couple minutes and then serve. Drizzle the slices with any excess syrup. Enjoy!
*Before I made this bread, I would have sworn that fresh lemon juice vs bottled made no difference. I was wrong. My wife and I did a quick taste test, and I now have an almost-full bottle of lemon juice that I am not using. So, if you have the patience, I would highly recommend squeezing your own lemon juice for this. It only took me 4 small lemons to get all the juice I needed for this.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Crispy Skin Salmon with Honey Mustard

As a fan of Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen, I have seen countless chefs screw up crispy skin salmon. I'd never had it but wanted to try making it... but I was a little nervous since I don't have too much experience with cooking fish.
Meet Adam. We look nothing alike.

Luckily, I'm friends with Adam, my fish monger. Adam and I spent an evening cooking various kinds of seafood, a lot of his tips made it into my mussels recipe, and one of the things I asked him to teach me was how to make crispy skin salmon.

Because this recipe is a bit trickier, and is something I don't think many people have tried, I'm including some more in-process shots for reference.

Ingredients:

2 salmon filets with skin on, about 3-4 oz each
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard

Directions:

Flip your salmon filets over so they are skin-side up and cut shallow lines, not much deeper than the skin, diagonally along the length, about 1.5 inches apart. Then liberally salt and pepper both sides.

My knives were a bit dull, so we ended up slicing deeper than intended.
Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat and pour on the olive oil, making sure to evenly coat the pan. Fish sticks really easily so you want to make sure you have a good non-stick surface. While the skillet is getting to temp, in a small bowl, mix together the honey and dijon mustard until smooth.

Once the griddle is hot, place the fish, skin-side down, in the pan. Leave it there. 90% of the cooking is going to be done with the skin side down.

Herein lies the tricky bit. How done do you like your salmon? I'm a risky fellow and I like mine to be a little raw in the middle, so I want a hotter pan so the skin gets crispy with a shorter cooking time. My wife, on the other hand, wants hers a little more well done, so for her I need a cooler pan that won't burn the skin over the longer cooking time.

How do you know when to flip? Well you can actually just watch the side of your salmon. The flesh changes color as it cooks, so if you want your filet rare, once it gets about three quarters of the way up, flip it. If you want it well done, wait until the color reaches almost all the way to the top
Once you have flipped it, lightly brush the honey mustard onto the skin. Let the salmon cook skin-side up for about 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and flip, skin-side down, onto a plate before brushing the remaining honey mustard onto the top.

Let the fish rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a side salad for lunch or with a salad and some quinoa for a filling dinner.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Root Beer Pulled Pork

Now the last pulled pork I made, I made with Dr. Pepper, this one I made with root beer, and I decided, rather then just replace the Dr. Pepper with the root beer, I decided to make a whole new BBQ sauce that would be a little sweeter to play with the vanilla in the root beer.

When selecting a root beer for this recipe, I would suggest getting a good one. It is the foundational flavor of the sauce and so, just like with wine or beer, don't cook with what won't drink.

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 7-8 hrs

Ingredients:

3-4 lb bone-in pork shoulder
20 oz root beer
1/2 t salt
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T honey

Directions:

Place your pork shoulder or butt in your slow cooker and pour on the root beer. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hrs.

When the pork is fork tender, remove from the liquid and place on a platter. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let it rest while you build the sauce.

Strain the cooking liquid, you should have 3-4 cups, into a large measuring cup or bowl. Put the bowl in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes so that the fat on the top solidifies and can be easily removed, or you can use a gravy separator. Pour your reserved liquid a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the salt, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and the honey. Simmer, uncovered, until your sauce is reduced to about 1 cup.

Now it's time to pull the pork. If you would rather have chunks, you can always use a knife, but I prefer using a pair of forks to pull the pork into bite sized shreds. Once your pork is pulled to the right sized pieces, pour on the sauce and stir thoroughly, but gently, to combine.

Enjoy room temp or warm it up in your slow cooker for a nice hot lunch.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Spicy Asian Style BBQ Sauce

This is a sauce I have been making for a while, usually by just throwing some stuff together until it tasted right. This is actually one of the first things that convinced me to make this blog, because it was something pretty original that people really liked. And, now that I'm starting to put together some healthier recipes, I figured this would be as good a time as ever to showcase it.

Prep time: 5 min
Makes: 2 servings
Calories: 47 per serving

Ingredients:

1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp Sriracha sauce
¼ tsp fish sauce

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake to combine thoroughly. I recommend pouring over two cooked chicken breasts cut into cubes, and then serve on a kaiser roll garnished with some spinach. Paired with a fruit and veggie smoothie, it makes a great healthy lunch.

Customize it:

You like honey bbq? Why not switch out the brown sugar for some honey. Need it mild? Leave out the Sriracha. While I recommend chicken for this sauce you could use it in pulled pork (though that wouldn't really be healthy living at that point), or maybe even marinate some tofu for a great noodle dish. Don't let my suggestions limit how you use this versatile sauce.