Friday, April 29, 2016

Easy One-Bowl, One-Step Hollandaise - A Miracle of Modern Science

I'm not sure what specifically that would be, but I assume there’s some kind of science behind this amazing, and possibly modern method I happened to stumble upon. I once saw a chef make hollandaise buy adding chucks of cold butter instead of whisking in hot melted butter, and it intrigued me.

Not enough to actually try it, but enough to make me wonder what would happen if we dumped everything in the bowl at once, and just cooked it all together. No one was more shocked than I was when it worked. And worked beautifully. By the way, I’m guessing I’m not the only person to have thought of this, but until I see proof, I will claim to be it’s inventor.

The only way this doesn’t work is if your heat is too high. I don’t have to tell you what will happen if it is. However, over a low flame (or double-boiler if you’re scared) this will come together very gradually, right before your eyes, and you’ll be able to stop anytime you see fit.  

Eggs are cheap, so give it a try, and see what happens. Being able to just dump everything into the bowl, and make hollandaise in one step is well worth the investment, especially with Mother’s Day coming up. Hint, hint. I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 portions (this can be scaled-up to how ever much you need):
1 large egg yolk
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (you can always add more to taste)
salt and cayenne or hot sauce to taste

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Perfect “Dry-Brined” Pork Chops – Come for the Oxymoron, Stay for the Juicy Meat

I’ve wanted to do a video on “dry-brining” for a while now, and was reminded of that fact after recently seeing a friend’s blog post on the subject. That friend would be the lovely and talented, Jennifer Yu, who publishes the blog, Use Real Butter.

Seeing those juicy pork chops in her post inspired this video, which features one of my favorite getting-meat-ready-for-the-grill techniques of all time. If you can call sprinkling salt on pork chops, a “technique,” and for the purposes of this post, we will. 

By the way, if this looks familiar, it should. We’ve used this trick before in previous videos, but just never called it “dry-brining,” mostly because that’s not a thing. By definition, a “brine” is a liquid, but since this contains the same active ingredients, and has the same effect, we don’t let a minor detail like no water get in our way.

I could go into a long, scientific explanation of what exactly happens here, but instead I’ll provide a link to this great article on Serious Eats, by J. Kenji López-Alt. Jen used his cookbook, The Food Lab, as a guide, and so we’ll send you his way for all the pertinent details.

While our friend Kenji will do a much better job explaining the science behind this magical method, I think I did a decent job in the video explaining how wonderfully this works. As long as you don’t horribly overcook your meat, this “dry-brine” technique will produce the juiciest, and most flavorful pork chops you’ve ever had.

So, a big thank you to Jennifer for inspiring us, as well as to Kenji for inspiring her. With peak grilling season right around the corner, I really do hope you give this amazingly simple trick a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large pork chops:
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mix and apply generously to both sides of the chops. Let “brine” uncovered in the fridge for 18-24 hours. Some say you can do this in less time, but I’ve always let it go at least overnight.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Kumquat Marmalade – Beautiful, Delicious, and Almost Easy to Make

If you’re like me, and marmalade is not your favorite type of fruit preserve, it’s most likely because of those bitter flavors from the white parts of whatever type of citrus was used. That is not an issue with this gorgeous kumquat marmalade.

The secret here is using a type of citrus that doesn’t really have any of those pithy parts, which is why kumquats are the only citrus I know of that you eat whole, skin and all. If you are going to enjoy au naturel, make sure you roll them first, to release all that sweet, fragrant oil.

However, if you’re going to cut them up as seem herein, then rolling each one is not necessary, as the oils will be release as we quarter, seed, and slice. This is a good thing, as we need all the time-savings we can get, since what we are going to do, is painstakingly remove the center white membrane.

I believe this will make your marmalade even less bitter, but mostly it’s for appearance. For me, those little white bits spoil the perfect, clear-orange jelly that’s produced. But if you think I’m crazy, and you want to save a half-hour, you can probably skip that step, as long as you get all the seeds. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 2 cups:
2 generous cups sliced kumquats (measure after they have been quartered, seeded, and sliced into small pieces)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
small pinch cayenne
1 cup white sugar
1 cup cold water
1 star anise (I remove after 10 minutes of simmering)
- Note: You can just go by appearance, but I took the temperature right before it was done, and it was bout 215 F., so I imagine when I was finished it was around 220 F. You can also put a spoonful on a plate in the fridge, and test that way.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cider-Braised Pork Cheeks – Eating with a Grin

Sometimes when I’m really bored, I’ll sit around trying to think up fake Mark Twain food quotations. For example, “The best beef stew I ever had, was pork cheeks in San Francisco.” That was inspired by the fact these delicious, easy to prepare clumps of pork really do taste like an extra-rich beef shoulder. 

You will have to speak with an actual real, live butcher, but they’re generally harmless, and if they sell fresh pork, I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to order you some cheeks. While I’m very proud of this recipe, and I think the hard cider makes for a perfect cooking liquid, feel free to simply take your favorite stew, or braised beef recipe, and swap in the pork cheeks instead.

Once everything’s in the pan, all you have to do is cook this until the meat is fork tender, and the sauce has thickened enough to coat the meat. Be careful not to use a too-salty broth, otherwise it may be too much once reduced. I really hope you give this cider-braised pork cheeks recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
* I used 6, but the amounts will work with 8, and give you 4 portions)
8 large pork cheeks (about 2 pounds)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
flour as needed
2 tablespoon clarified butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cups hard cider
2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced

Note: if you want extra sauce, you can add an extra tablespoon of flour to the veggies when they are sautéing. Then add an extra cup of cider and broth, and proceed as shown.