Friday, May 25, 2018

Grilled Root Beer Beef – Almost as Good as an Ice Cream Float

I’ve used something very close to this root beer marinade for lamb several times, and had great success, so I’ve been eager to try it with some skewered beef, which didn’t come out quite as well, but could have. Please, let me explain.

Since lamb has a stronger, “gamier” taste, the sweetness of this treatment works perfectly, but I thought it was a little too much for the beef. So, below in the ingredients list, I've made a few adjustments to the honey amount, as well as acidity level.

The beauty of a recipe like this is they’re very easy to adapt, and I’m not just talking about the pre-grill soak, but also the glaze we make with the extra marinade. Once reduced to something thick enough to coat our meat, you’ll want to taste it, and adjust with more heat, sweet, sour, or whatever else you think it needs. One thing mine definitely needed was more salt. I thought the soy was going to be enough, but I should have salted my skewers before they hit the grill, and/or add some salt to the marinade.

Adjustments aside, if you enjoy things like sweet/hot barbecue sauces, bourdon glazes, or even something like teriyaki, you will probably very much enjoy this. Even if you don’t use the marinade, I really loved the technique we used for the flank, which would work beautifully no matter how you flavor this. Either way, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 skewers/portions:
1 whole flank steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
For the marinade
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
2 tablespoons ketchup
honey, optional (I used 2 tablespoons, but would omit next time)
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar (I didn't add, but it needed it)
1 bottle (12 ounces) good quality root beer
kosher salt to season skewers generously

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Celery Sorbet – It Only Sounds Crazy

If you set out to make an ice cream or sorbet from a vegetable, celery wouldn’t be your first choice, but nevertheless, these unremarkable ribs produce a shockingly delicious frozen treat. And, I said “frozen treat,” instead of dessert for a reason, since this has as many savory applications as sweet ones.

The first time I ever had something like this, it was used to garnish a plate of salmon gravlax. It was presented next to the cold, cured fish, on a pile of crispy rye breadcrumbs, and the combination of tastes, textures, and temperatures truly was incredible. After that meal, I promised myself I’d figure out how to make this stuff no matter how long, or many failed attempts it took. Luckily, Mark Bittman had already posted a recipe for it in the Times, so I ended up nailing it on the first try, but still, promise kept.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, there are like a hundred hacks online for how to do this without one, or you can simply use the method highlighted in our strawberry granite video, which will produce something closer in texture to a snow cone, but amazing nonetheless. No matter what you use, I really do hope you give this very unusual, but absolutely delicious celery sorbet a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 pound (after trimming) sliced celery
1 cup white sugar
1 cup cold water
pinch of salt (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1 lime, juiced

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fried Cheese Egg Toast – The Breakfast of Champions (In a Rut)

I’m not sure what your usual breakfast routine entails, but chances are you occasionally get bored with it, and crave something completely different, and when that happens, it doesn’t get much more different than this fast, and easy fried cheese egg toast. Be careful though, since afterwards it’s not easy going back to that bowl of oatmeal.

While pan-frying cheese may not sound particularly healthy, as it caramelizes, it gives up a fair amount of butter fat, which stays behind in the pan. So, you could actually spin this technique as a new, fat-reducing hack – unless you use that to butter the toast, which isn’t a dumb idea.

By the way, I hope you like your yolks runny, since if you don’t, this is not going to be nearly as great. Which reminds me, why do people not like runny yolks? What’s not to like? I hope they don’t think they’re dangerous, because they’re not. Anyway, if you are a fan of the flow, this fried cheese egg toast is the way to go, so I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one Fried Cheese Egg Toast:
1 ounce grated cheddar cheese
pinch red pepper flakes
1 large egg
1 piece of toast
sliced green onions to garnish
pinch of salt

*Note: For best results, rub your non-stick pan with a few drops of olive oil

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Barbarian Beef – Our Oldest Recipe Yet

Ever since I saw Alton Brown grilling skirt steak on hot coals, I’ve wanted to try this technique for a larger hunk of meat, but it was the realization that no one had yet called a recipe “barbarian beef,” that provided the final push. 

By the way, I did no historical research, but I assume your average barbarian was too busy pillaging to lug a grill around, and just cooked their meat right on the coals. So, for the purposes of this post, that's the story we'll be going with.

I used top round for this, and if you’re just going to slice it thin, and make sandwiches it’s fine, but now that I have a little experience, I’d like to try it with a tenderer cut. No matter what you use, you’ll want to take it off a few degrees under whatever your regular internal temp target is, since it definitely continues to cook after you take it off the coals.

It’ll depend on the size/shape of your cut, but use a thermometer to check, as the temp will probably climb by at least 10 degrees. Above and beyond doneness, the flavor of the beef really was great. Very similar to something off a grill, but with a little bit deeper level of smokiness. Even if you don’t cook your steak on the coals, the sauce was quite nice, and comes highly recommended, but officially, I really do hope you give both a try soon. Enjoy!


For the Sauce:
4 cloves garlic
1 Fresno chili pepper, or other fresh hot pepper
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Friday, May 11, 2018

Chocolate Granola – Take That, Count Chocula!

I know chocolate granola sort of sounds like candy, but introducing cocoa into the mix not only makes it delicious, it also actually makes it better for you! Possibly. No one is really sure. The point is this really tastes great, and would make a wonderful treat for the chocolate lover, mother or otherwise, in your life.

I showed amazing restraint not adding anything more that oatmeal and almonds, since I really think that’s the best plan for the chocolate base, but I would have no problem with you accessorizing this as you see fit. Coconut flakes are an obvious choice, as are other usual suspects like dried fruit, any and all nuts, and assorted seeds.

If you want a stickier granola, that will more easily clump together, you can up the brown sugar and maple syrup a bit, as I used the bare minimum in this recipe, but I think it’s plenty sweet enough, especially if you’re a fan of dark chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate, I used Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge, a Dutch-process cocoa, which has a lower acidity than regular cocoa, and works perfectly flavor-wise. However, I’ve heard that type of cocoa doesn’t retain as much of the nutritional value, due to the way it’s processed. The good news is, any high-quality cocoa will work here.

By the way, I was only half-kidding about making this for someone, and then keeping it all for yourself, so best play it safe, and make a double, or triple batch. No matter how much you make, or what you add in, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!



Makes about 3 1/2 cups of Chocolate Granola:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
pinch of cayenne
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-processed if possible)
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped almonds

- Mix, and bake at 250 F. for about an hour, or until as crunchy/chewy as you like.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Madame Cristo, I Presume

I was attempting to do a little twist on the venerable Croque Madame, by soaking the toast in a custard batter before frying, instead of topping it with the usual white sauce, but when I’d finished, I realized what I really had created was a Monte Cristo with a poached egg on top. These things will happen.

It was amazingly delicious, but I decided it wasn’t close enough to call a Croque Madame, which is when I turned to Twitter for help. This is never a good idea, but this time it totally worked out, as some dude who goes by the name, Zap Shakur (@zapshakur), suggested I go with “Madame Cristo,” and the rest is history.

If you’re just making one or two, feel free to poach your eggs right before the sandwiches are done, but for larger parties, you’ll want to check out this poached egg video, which shows a great make-ahead method for serving multiple poached eggs at the same time. This is exactly how it’s done in restaurants, where cooking to order would be virtually impossible.

If you are feeding a larger group, you can make your sandwiches ahead, and then just keep them in a warm oven, until you're ready to top with the poached eggs. But, whether you’re making this for two or twenty, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Madame Cristos:
4 slices white bread, lightly toasted
8 thin slices of Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar, Havarti, or any other melting cheese
4 ounces thinly sliced honey baked ham or similar meat product
2 tablespoons butter for pan frying
2 poached or fried eggs to top
chives to garnish

For the egg batter:
2 large eggs
5 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
pinch of nutmeg and cayenne
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Perfect Margarita, According to Me

Mastering the Margarita requires a certain amount of practice, which is the good news and the bad news, but once you dial-in your perfect ratio, it’s a really easy cocktail to replicate. The classic recipe is three parts tequila, two parts triple sec, and one part freshly squeezed lime juice, and you should probably start off pretty close to that, but my personal favorite proportions are 4-3-2, as you’ll see listed below.

For the best results, be sure to use fresh ice, and of course fresh limes, as well as a nice bottle of triple sec, like Cointreau. That’s my favorite, but if you browse other recipes, you’ll see there are many fine choices. You’ll also want to use a decent white tequila, like the Don Abraham's Single Estate Blanco Tequila I enjoyed, but having said that, feel free to use one with a shorter name.

The other big tips here are shake your cocktail mixer until frost forms on the outside, and then strain it over fresh ice. The ice we use to make the drink will melt too fast in the glass, and so a large, still frozen cube is the way to go. By the way, Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow, so check those ice cube trays before bed.

So whether you’re going to make these for the 5th of May, or another time this summer when you feel like sipping on one of the most refreshing, and delicious adult beverages ever invented, I really do hope you give this Margarita a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 1 Perfect Margarita:
2 ounces white tequila
1.5 ounces triple sec
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 thin slice of lime
- Some like to add a dash agave nectar for a little extra sweetness, but I do not.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Ultimate Berry Crumble – The Ultimate

I was only half kidding about the “ultimate” designation for this, as it truly was everything I’ve ever wanted in a fresh berry crumble. This has the perfect balance of sweet and tart, tender and crisp, not to mention copious amounts of butter in our double application of crumble.

As I mentioned in the video, if you want a pie-like filling, you’ll want to toss in a few teaspoons of cornstarch, otherwise for a runnier fruit mixture cut it in half, or leave it out altogether. It really depends on what you’re into, but either way, some ice cream on the side is highly recommended.

This really shines with fresh berries, but it will work with the frozen ones. Those tend to be a lot juicier, so keep that in mind when making cornstarch related decisions. And don’t feel like you have to stick to berries, as ripe peaches, and other summer stone fruit would also be fantastic in this. No matter what you use, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 to 8 portions (made in 2-quart casserole):
For the crumble:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) frozen unsalted butter, grated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks
1 to 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or enough for dough to “clump”

For the fruit mixture:
3 generous cups fresh berries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
1 to 4 teaspoons cornstarch, depending on how firm you want the fruit filling (I used 4 tsp)
pinch of cayenne

- Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 40-45 minutes
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