Friday, July 28, 2017

Spanish Octopus – Now 100% Trick Free

I’ve never been to Spain, so to what extent this is actually Spanish octopus, I can’t really say, but after having enjoyed this underrated seafood in more Spanish restaurants than I can remember, it has to be pretty close.

Above and beyond the ingredients, the cooking method, or should I say methods, couldn’t be easier. As long as you braise it gently on low heat, until just tender, and then give it a nice sear before serving, you should be in great shape. Which is why I’ve never understood all the crazy tips and tricks, for achieving the perfect texture.

Some say to beat it on rocks before braising, while others insist a few wine corks are the way to go. If you have one of these magical techniques, I’d love to hear about it, especially if it sounds extra nutty, but I have to admit, I am a skeptic.

You should be able to find frozen Spanish octopus at your finer markets, which is the only kind I’ve ever used, so I can’t say how much better it is fresh, but one day I would love to find out, preferably in Spain. Fresh or frozen, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for two portions:
1 pound piece Spanish octopus
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup white wine
- Serve with crusty roasted potatoes

For the sauce:
About 1/3 cup reserve braising liquid (boiled, strained)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
salt to taste
cayenne to taste

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Baklava – So Good, It’s Nuts!

Assuming you haven’t used up all your homemade filo dough already, as promised, here’s my method for building what I think is a beautiful baklava. Like lasagna, there are as many versions of this, as there are cooks who make it, but regardless of the exact ingredients, or specific number of layers, the technique is the same. 

I tend to enjoy a generous ratio between nuts and pastry, as that makes me feel a little bit better about the copious amounts of sugar in this, but above and beyond that, I think this approach produces the best texture. As I mentioned in the video, you can use as many layers of filo as you want, but be careful, since too many may not cook through, and the only way to mess this up is to undercook the dough. The top and bottom layers need to dry out, and thoroughly crisp up, otherwise, once the syrup gets ladled over, you’ll have a soggy mess.

I would start peeking at it after about 45 minutes, but it’s probably going to need closer to an hour, or even more, depending on how much “stuff” you used. Once done, and finished with the syrup, you need to let this cool down to room temp, which is incredibly hard to do. But, your patience will be rewarded with one of the most delicious things known to man. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes one 9-inch round Baklava:
*Note: I don’t know how this translate to different size pans, but I’m sure you’ll figure that out.

Ingredients:
16 sheets homemade filo/phyllo dough (or 1 package frozen filo/phyllo dough, defrosted)
1 stick (1/2-cup) melted unsalted butter
- For the syrup:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
3 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons orange blossom water (or sub some orange and lemon peel)
- For the nut mixture:
2 1/2 cups walnut halves
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

- Bake at 350 F. for about 1 hour, let rest for 5 minutes, and apply syrup

Friday, July 21, 2017

Homemade Phyllo aka Filo Dough – One Step Away from Baklava

At long last, we’re finally going to post a baklava video, which I decided to make a lot harder, by making the filo dough from scratch. 

While not using the incredibly convenient, and significantly faster frozen filo dough does make this a lengthier project, it also makes it much more interesting, and way more fun.

Fair warning, I’ve only done filo a handful of times, so I’m no expert at making this, or baklava, for that matter; but the good news is, despite that, I still managed to achieve some fairly excellent results, and suspect you will as well. I’m sure with a little practice I could probably do more than five at a time, but once you get rolling, the batches go pretty quick, and each one seems to get a little better than the last.

I'll post the baklava video next week, but if you want to practice, you could make a batch, and then do search on Allrecipes for recipes that use filo. There's no shortage of amazingly delicious things to do with this paper thin dough. Stay tuned for baklava, but in the meantime, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes enough for about twenty (10 to 12 inch round) sheets of filo:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
5 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3/4 cups warm water (about 110 F.)
For the starch mixture:
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Spicy Chicken Noodles – It’s The Rice That Makes It Nice

The only downside to this beautiful, spicy chicken noodles recipe is that I’m now going to get even more requests for Pad Thai that I usually do. Which is understandable, since no matter what recipe they’re used in, rice noodles are a proven crowd-pleaser.

By the way, I’ll post a recipe for pad Thai just as soon as my version comes out at least as well as the worst restaurant example in town. I’m not quite there yet. In the meantime, we can all practice our rice noodle soaking technique. As I mentioned, check the package of noodles you buy, as the time will vary depending on the size of the noodle.

I think this dish is perfect for using up leftover chicken, assuming it wasn’t horribly overcooked in the first place. If you did want to use raw chicken, go ahead and chop it up, and stir-fry it for a minute or two, before adding your vegetables. Either way, I really hope you give this spicy chicken noodles recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
8 ounces dry rice noodles, soaked in 6 cups of boiling, lightly salted water (drain and rinse before using)
8 ounces cooked chicken breast, torn
1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the sauce:
3 tablespoons hoisin
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons Sriracha, or other hot sauce
1 teaspoon hot chili flakes
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup chicken broth
For the vegetables:
1 large carrot, finely sliced or shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
2 cups finely sliced green cabbage
1/2 cup chopped green onions
3 cloves garlic, finely crushed
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Friday, July 14, 2017

Grilled “Tandoori” Lamb – Hold the Tandoor

Since I didn’t cook this marvelous meat in a tandoor oven, it’s not actually tandoori lamb, which will save some of you the time letting me know all the other ways it isn’t the real deal. Accepting that, these days “tandoori” simply refers to the yogurt based, aromatically spiced marinade, whether you grill, broil, or bake the meat.

As usual, please adjust the spice amounts to your tastes, since you know you much better than I do. These should get you close to your friendly neighborhood Indian joint, but still, play around. If you want to add some veggies between the pieces of meat, go ahead, but I have more success cooking them separately.

I really like lamb sirloin, and see it in the stores more often these days, but like I said in the video, leg of lamb, or a shoulder roast, are also very nice for this. If you feel like splurging, you can do lamb chops, but for those, 4 to 6 hours is plenty of time in the marinade. But, no matter which cut you use, or animal for that matter, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Marinade Ingredients for 2 to 3 pounds of lamb
2 to 3 pounds lamb sirloin, cut into about 1 1/2 to 2-inch chunks
1 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more pre-grilling
1 big juicy lemon, juiced
1/4 cup grated or very finely minced onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 generous teaspoons garam masala (click here to make your own)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
chopped cilantro
fresh lemon
grilled onions
flatbread or rice
spicy cilantro chutney (I don’t have a recipe, but here’s one)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lebanese Mountain Bread – A Peak Flatbread Experience

As promised, here is my take on Lebanese Mountain Bread. There are so many reasons why I love this simple bread. There’s the unique texture, gorgeous appearance, and fun-to-make technique, but discovering this also helped me solve a culinary mystery from my childhood.

I used to spend a lot of time at my grandmothers house as a toddler, and every once an a while she would give me something called “Syrian bread,” which was made by a neighbor across the street. It was one of my earliest food memories, and at the time, probably my favorite thing to eat. It was just so much different than the sliced white bread, or crusty Italian bread I was used to eating.

However, the Syrian lady across the street must have been the only person in the area that knew how to make it, since, once she was gone, so was the bread. Over the years, I tried many versions, but I never did come across that exact same experience, and assumed it was lost to history, until I saw something online called Lebanese Mountain Bread, which looked remarkably similar.

After a few (dozen) experiments, I finally nailed it down, and was suddenly transported back to grandma’s kitchen. By the way, this might be as close to a time machine as we ever get. Fair warning, it may take a little practice stretching the dough over the bowl (or Lebanese mountain bread pillow), but your efforts will be richly rewarded, so I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 8 portions Lebanese Mountain Bread:
1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
then add:
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup bread flour, plus more as needed

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Happy 5th of July!

I hope you had a great holiday, and that your food was just as impressive as the fireworks show, or visa versa. We’re going to take a few days off, so there won’t be any new videos this week, but that’ll give you time to catch up on the ones you’ve missed, as well as continue to build suspense for the upcoming Lebanese Mountain Bread video.

In related news, I’m also experimenting with a few new/old things to serve with the aforementioned, and thoroughly teased flatbread. So, stay tuned for all that, and, as always, enjoy!

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