I’ll never forget the first time I tried romesco sauce. When I was still a student in culinary school, the cuisines of the Mediterranean kitchen were always my jam. Foods from Spain, France, Italy, Turkey and the northern coast of Africa were a welcome hard left turn toward progress, inching ever farther from the canned pea dinners of my youth
Spanish Day was always my favorite. Assortments of tapas marched into place, shoulder to shoulder on a broad stainless steel table, ready for eatin’. The chef instructor in K8 (that was the classroom number) was particularly fond of tapas, so I was quickly schooled in the ways of romesco — a traditional Catalan sauce made with sweet roasted peppers, toasted nuts, sherry vinegar and garlic. Some people even put stale bread in the mix to thicken things up. It was like the most amazing almond and red pepper pesto I’d ever had.
I love a good cooking competition reality show as much as the next guy. My husband and I make it a habit, in fact, to pause the DVR the moment the Chopped mystery basket is opened: “Quick, what would you make with toasted corn cereal, silken tofu and a bottle of pomegranate kombucha?!”
I have to excuse myself from viewing, though, when they reach for the mandolin. Every time, without fail, it makes me recoil. The “only 10 seconds left!” tenacity with which they wield those things usually leads to a bit of their fingertip being added to whatever salad or fancy garnish they’re prepping.
I’m cringing just writing about it.
That’s why I implore you to make the investment to buy a mandolin ASAP.
Those of you that read my blog know that I love a grocery store. Some people have shoes or gadgets or lotions and potions. Not me. I’ve got the dairy case, cheese counter and friendly deli staff. Since this is my drug, and guilty indulgence is imminent with every visit, I’ve amassed a pantry full of random odds and ends, all of which I clearly need to have. The spoils of this most recent visit? Fresh-packed kimchi.
At New York City’s Chelsea Market, a really delicious change is happening on the menus of the restaurants that fill the ground floor – they’re making their own sodas. It’s not crazy difficult; it’s just a syrup base mixed with bubbly water. But since they’re making their own, delicious flavors like cherry-vanilla and Thai basil are trumping traditional cola.
You’ve probably got seltzer on-demand on your countertop, right? You can make a simple syrup, too, right? Then you, my friend, are on your way to making soda of your very own.
I’ve been called many things in my life, but a slave to fashion is not one of them. I don’t care what the calendar says. What, just because Labor Day has passed I should pack up and forget about all things summer? Fine, the white hot pants can retire for now, but I’ll be damned if the grill is being nestled back into the far corners of the garage. Not now. Not yet.
As the bounty of summer fruits has come pouring into my local farm stands, peaches and tomatoes are nailing it right now. Chefs like to say that “if it grows together, it goes together,” and I, for one, couldn’t agree more. I love a good old fashioned watermelon-tomato salad during the warmer months, but slipping a few peaches into your caprese takes it to a whole other level. The flavor of the peach is heartier and totally satisfying, especially after a quick go with the grates of a hot grill.
We all love a roast chicken. It’s comforting, delicious and just so quintessentially tastes like home. It also takes a time commitment to cook all the way through – time that I don’t always have. Next time you’re craving that “Sunday Dinner” meal on a weeknight, refer to a butchering technique that chefs call spatchcocking.
I love a good flavored spirit: citrus vodkas, pineapple & chili tequilas, even the occasional cucumber gin. I’m not sure where along the way we veered into the murky waters of making our cocktails taste like birthday cake or gummy fish candy by way of some chemical flavorings, but don’t worry – I’m here to help get us safely back to center.
As you sip & savor the remaining summer nights ahead, breathe some refreshment into your cocktails by infusing your own spirits with some of these classic, all-natural flavors.
I’ve seen lots of savory jams popping up in food magazines and blogs lately. As the name would imply, chefs lately have taken a liking to making jams flavored with savory ingredients like mustard seeds, bay leaves, tomatoes, onions or — everyone’s favorite flavoring agent — bacon.
The sauce served with this week’s Dinner Rush! is a riff on this idea. While not going through the whole process a professional chef might, we’re achieving the same effect — blending sweet and savory into a deliciously balanced sauce that’s great to serve with grilled meats, or even a cheese plate should you have leftovers.
I’ll be the first to admit that cauliflower isn’t taking home first place for sexiest vegetable in your cart. It’s stark white, oddly bulbous and belongs to a family of vegetables classified as cruciferous. Woof. But, hidden inside those dense ivory florets is a ton of flavor with a gilding of abundant vitamins and minerals. So go ahead, embrace the cauliflower. Put a little lipstick on it and try serving cauliflower steaks (now that sounds sexy.)
There’s a hole in my heart left behind by the recent closure of my favorite local Chinese restaurant. The Mill House Panda was a Poughkeepsie, NY, institution for decades, with cold sesame noodles unrivaled across three counties. While these aren’t exactly its version (not even close, in fact), a yearning for my long-lost Tuesday night take-out has inspired me to pick myself up, dust myself off and create a new cold Asian noodle to call my own.
We’ve all been there: the pounding headache of a hangover, the groggy nausea of an upset tummy, the throbbing rage of a stressful day at work. There are some challenges in life whose only resolution comes from a drive-thru window. Thus, in homage to the holistic powers of fast food condiments, this week’s Dinner Rush! is all about the miracle elixir known only as “secret sauce.”
Last week I posted a walkthrough to get all you bakers through home-made pie dough unscathed. Not one to only bring you halfway to the finish line, this week I’m going to show you how to assemble a photo worthy lattice top pie with that same beautiful dough we made last week.
I always forget about crab. It’s a shame, really, considering how delicious and easy it is to work with. My market keeps it all tucked away in some stray corner of the seafood cooler case, escaping my radar. Plus when you’re married to someone who won’t eat anything that grew up in water, occasions are few and far between to crack them claws open.
Wanting to gussy up my offerings for a 4th of July BBQ recently, I went big. I went bold. I went for crab cakes — and (I’ll pat myself on the back here) I nailed it. Like most memorable things in life, bacon has the assist and — with such a clean palate of ingredients employed — the smokier the better.
While crab cakes may sound like a budget-busting endeavor for a plastic, gingham-tablecloth day in the sun, they don’t have to be. Crab comes in different grades usually labeled (in ascending order of quality) special, claw and lump. The texture of the lump meat is certainly lovely, but I like to reserve it for a simple presentation — like a crab salad, for instance — where its pricey texture can really shine. In this case, since we’re mixing the crab with all sorts of other things and then frying it, reach for “special” grade — the flavor is the same. They won’t, however, last very long. Get your “cook’s-spoils” bites in early.
I love to bake. Cooking is great and all, but I’ll take a slice of cake over a bowl of pasta any day. As the temperature has continued to climb this past week, so too has my level of craving for the perfect summer dessert: pie.
I’m so often told by people that they’re terrified of making pie dough. Seems like everyone I know has a great recipe for pie – typically endowed by a grandmother – that they make using a store-bought dough. Tragedy.
I’m here today to be your guide. Pie dough is not scary, it won’t bite you. It does, however, make all the difference between an okay pie and an “I swear, just one last piece” pie. So please, do me a favor and commit to making your own pie dough. It’ll change everything.
Isn’t it great when months of booking hotels, drafting itineraries, hoarding suntan lotion and dusting off beach chairs finally culminates in that magical week of seasonal bliss? Summer vacation is almost here for me, and boy do I need it!
Before skipping town for a week in Cape Cod, I had to do what any upstanding food fan would: clean out the fridge. A little something you might not know about me — I LOVE a good “yeah throw that in” bowl of pasta. Putting an assortment of deliciousness into a bowl with some pasta, sauce and cheese can only, by law of deductive reasoning, end up even more synergistically delicious than at the start. It’s a no-brainer and always a crowd-pleaser.
Speaking of crowd-pleasing, the other beautiful thing about this pasta is how perfect it is for a backyard BBQ. Take advantage of an already active grill by bringing prepped vegetables, cooked pasta and prepared pesto to your next cookout. Throw the vegetables on the grill when you arrive and then toss everything together and serve — instant pasta salad!
Safe travels (and good eats) to everyone traveling on vacation this summer!
I see no reason for hot, muggy summer nights to put a damper on my delicious pizza-consumption time. Sure, turning on the oven to the highest setting it’ll withstand to produce that crispy, crispy crust would be a tasty choice. It would also be an express ticket to sleeping on the couch (the air conditioner is in the bedroom and my husband doesn’t suffer the heat too gladly). Enter old faithful: the trusty grill.
If you’ve made pizza at home before, then you know that heat is your friend. You crank that oven up as high as you possibly can, the idea being that you want a browned crust and melted cheese quickly. When grilling your pizza, it’s important to be a bit more reserved with those gas knobs. Since the heat of a grill is more direct than a traditional oven, hanging out in the “medium” range is your ticket. That is, of course, unless you love a charred pizza. I didn’t think so.
Now that you and pizza have been united in summertime backyard bliss, the only decision left to make is what should go on the pie.
I’ve adopted a very unfortunate weather-related response in the last few weeks. As discussions arise about how unseasonably brisk our Northeast summer has been this season, I can’t help but fire back a slightly snarky, “Oh, summer is totally on its way! It’ll be here next summer for sure.”
Long story short, it’s downright chilly for mid-June in New York — seems to me an occasion befitting of some hearty and delicious classic German potato salad. Also, in full disclosure, I’m not exactly sure that my grandma knew how the Germans of yesteryear made their potato salad. This just happens to be how she always made and subsequently introduced the arrival of her potato salad when I was a kid.
The signature touch of this particular style of the favorite picnic side dish is the vinaigrette it gets tossed in. Mayo is not an overlooked omission here; he’s sitting this game out. It’s also crucial, no matter how you may make your potato salad, to dress it while the potatoes are still hot. Do that and those starchy little sponges will soak up all that delicious flavor with unrivaled conviction.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to resume my search for the real summer of 2013.
Cooking Channel’s “Devour” Blog >> “Dinner Rush! Chipotle BBQ Glazed Pork Loin With Spicy Watermelon Salsa”
My mom is one of those endlessly entertaining people who calls me with the best food questions. “How can I combine cream and cheese to make cream cheese?” “Do you have a recipe for diabetic cupcakes?” “What the heck is in bologna, anyway?”
We had a similar conversation last week about barbecue sauce as her mind was blown upon learning that one could make their own with about as much effort as it takes to watch paint dry. Breaking beyond the bottle I walked her through the careful blending of ketchup, sweetener and assorted spices with nuclear precision. As we talked through it and my Dinner Rush light bulb kicked on, I told her I was going to make a barbecue pork loin with spicy watermelon salsa.
“Wait now, a what?! A watermelon salsa?!”
“Yeah, Mom, I was reading about a spicy fruit salsa in a magazine last week. Sounded delicious, plus I’ve got a bunch of watermelon to use up.”
“Wow, a salsa made of watermelon. I tell ya. Just what will they think of next?”
I don’t think I’d be alone in giving a resounding “YES” to a poll question gauging whether or not pizza is delicious. You can dress it up, you can dress it down, you can make it whatever you want it to be. Now, friends & fellow foodies, I invite you to take the pizza-eating experience full circle and start with a dough that you make yourself.
It’s easy, nearly effortless, and is surprisingly versatile. You can make a few batches and freeze them for use later. You can make your next pie a bit healthier by adding in whole wheat flour or ground flaxseed. Best of all, you can control the quality of what your family is eating by knowing exactly what’s going into dinner.
If you’ve tuned into Food Network at some point in the nearly 20 years it has been on the air, you’ve probably heard (more than) one of the chefs talk at length about the importance of using high-quality ingredients in your cooking. “Only select the freshest” they decree from their perfectly lit and styled flat screen stages. Curious thing is, they’re right.