Friday, July 3, 2015

Have a Great Fourth of July Weekend!

We’re going to take a couple days off for the holiday, but wanted to wish you a very safe, and festive 4th of July! 

Fabulous summer cookouts are just one of the many things that makes America great, and I hope you’re involved one of those tomorrow; preferably serving something you saw on Food Wishes (like the no-baked cheesecake flag cake pictured here). Enjoy the food, the fireworks, and possibly the adult beverages, and we’ll be back next week with brand-new videos, as usual. Stay tuned! 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

4th of July Special: Red, White & Blueberry Grilled Chicken!

These colors don’t run, but they do stain, so I recommend eating this delicious, red, white and blueberry chicken outdoors, preferably at some type of 4th of July barbecue. While the Independence Day wordplay was very much intentional, this grilled chicken is no gimmick.

Smoky, spicy meats have been paired with sweet-and-sour, fruit-based sauces since we’ve had cooks, so that this combo works beautifully is no big surprise. And yes, other juicy fruit like peaches, or other berries will work nicely.

Like I said in the video, I made my spice rub extra hot, so I could really take advantage of the cooling effects of the sweetness in the sauce. Sweet cancels out heat on your palette, so you can kind of push things a bit if you want. The measurements below are what I used, but you should, and must adjust. 

As far as chicken doneness goes, I recommend checking with a thermometer. If you cook a lot of chicken, it’s fairly easy to tell by feel, but why take a chance? I usually go to 150 F, which left to rest for a minute, should be safe, and very juicy. So, if you’re looking for a very tasty, slightly unusual, appropriately named chicken recipe, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground dry chipotle
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 cloves minced garlic

For the blueberry gastrique:
2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
*splash of water as needed to adjust thickness (after the blueberries start cooking)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
*If you make the sauce ahead, your sauce will thicken, and you will probably need to thin it out with some water. When tasting for seasoning, remember this is going to go on highly seasoned meat.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sweet Potato Buns – Great for Burgers, and Learning How to Bake Without Fear

Not only does adding sweet potatoes to a burger bun make it more nutritious, delicious, and significantly more beautiful, but it also presents the perfect opportunity to get pass your flour amount phobia, and finally be able to make dough by feel.

Every once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone whose dough was way too wet, or dry, and I always think the same thing; why would you stop? Some actually tell me they had to throw out the whole batch, which is insane. Your dough’s too wet? Add some flour. Too dry? Add some water.

No matter how exact a recipe is written, you simply can’t go by measurements, volume or weight, and expect perfection. There are too many variables that effect how much flour is needed – like a cup of mashed sweet potatoes, for example.

The best strategy is to not add all the flour at once, and only add enough to achieve the soft, slightly tacky dough seen herein. One of the great advantages of video is being able to see what the dough should look and feel like.

Once you get comfortable with not worrying about exact amounts, but rather exact results, the world of bread opens up to you and your new-found powers. Now, you just need to practice, so with that in mind, I really hope you give these amazing sweet potato buns a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 large, 16 medium, or 32 slider-sized rolls:

For sponge:
1 package (2 1/2 tsp) dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann's “RapidRise” Yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup AP flour

Then add:
1 cup mashed orange sweet potato (also sold as yams)
2 tsp honey
1 1/4 teaspoons fine salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour AP flour, as needed to form the right texture dough (see blog post)

- Bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes, or until browned. Large buns may take an extra few minutes, and the sliders-sized may take a minute or two less.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Teriyaki Burgers and a Sweet Potato Bun Tease

Your classic teriyaki burger is usually nothing more than a plain patty, which has been glazed in teriyaki sauce; and by “teriyaki sauce,” I mean a thick, one-dimensional syrup made from sugar, soy, and MSG. If you’re enjoying your third pint at a sports bar, these work out just fine, but good luck adapting them for your next cookout.

Here we’re using a different, drier approach, and adding the key teriyaki flavorings to the ground meat. This gives us a burger or slider with the taste of teriyaki, without having to deal with a sauce. This recipe should work no matter the cooking method, although a medium-hot charcoal grill would be my preference, weather permitting.

No matter how you grill these, I highly recommend they end up on a homemade sweet potato slider bun. Besides another way to tweak the humble hamburger, this clip was intended to be a sneak preview for some rather amazing buns. We’ll post that sometime Monday, just in case you want to add it to your 4th of July menu. So stay tuned, and as always, enjoy!


Ingredients for four (4-oz) burgers:
1 pound ground beef (85/15 lean to fat ratio)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tsp sriracha, or other hot sauce to taste
2 tsp brown sugar