Monday, May 25, 2015

Celebrating Memorial Day – Paying Tribute to Those Who Literally Fight for Your Right to Party

Photo (c) Flickr user Vince Alongi
I always feel a little guilty grilling on Memorial Day. Being surrounded by all kinds of tasty food and cold beer seems inappropriate considering the holiday's solemn meaning. Maybe it would be better to honor our vets by eating what they had to survive on while defending our country.

What if instead of gnawing on a stack of sticky barbecued ribs, while sitting in a lawnchair, we dug a hole in the ground, and enjoyed something squeezed out of a pouch instead? There aren't many delicious things that come in squeezable pouches.

So, if the chicken get a little dry today, or whoever made the beans was just going through the motions, don't think of it as a disappointing meal; think of it as unintentional tribute all those brave souls who sacrificed for our freedoms. Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Braised Lamb with Radishes and Mint (and Anchovies, but Don’t Tell Anyone)

I had a fantastic appetizer recently featuring lamb belly, radishes, anchovies, and mint, which inspired today’s post. It sounded amazing, but I’d only glanced at the description, so when it came, I was more than a little surprised to see the radishes were fully cooked.

This was a new one for me, and I absolutely loved it. Like most root vegetables, radishes don’t have a ton of flavor, but I found them slightly sweet, earthy (duh), and aromatic. Plus, they seemed to have effectively absorbed all the other flavors in the dish.

One thing led to another, and I adapted the approach to create one of the more interesting and delicious things I’ve had in a while. I called it a “flavor bomb” in the video, but “umami bomb” would be more accurate. This was as savory, as savory gets.

Because of all the sweet flavors going on, I decided not to add any sauteed onions or garlic, which is contrary to most braised meat recipes. It probably wouldn’t have hurt anything, and I might try it next time, but to be honest, this came out so perfectly balanced, that I’m a little scared change anything.

And no, you can't taste the anchovies. That doesn't mean you should tell anyone they're in there, but I did want to mention, in case you're scared. I would like to thank Aatxe for the inspiration, and I really hope you give this strange, but exciting braised lamb dish and try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 4 Portions:
4  lamb shoulder chops (10-12 ounces each)
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or about 2 tsp of table salt)
1 teaspoon black  pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 1/2 cups low-sodium or no sodium chicken broth (the anchovies and spice rub on the lamb usually provide enough salt, plus you can add at the end after sauce is reduced)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 bunches breakfast radishes, trimmed
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
5 or 6 fresh mint leaves finely sliced
1 tbsp cold butter

- Braise at 275 F. for about 3 hour , or until meat is just barely tender, then finish at 425 F. to brown. Serve with de-fatted and reduced sauce.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Classic Strawberry Shortcake – Thanks, Grandpa!

I was visiting my mom last summer, and overheard her and my aunt talking about making strawberry shortcake using “dad’s” recipe. They were obviously talking about my grandfather, which was surprising, since I had no idea he baked.

I remember he did a lot of cooking growing up, but it was things like frittata, meat sauce, or polenta. I never once saw him bake anything sweet. Nevertheless, he apparently gets credit for inventing our official family recipe for strawberry shortcake, which I’ve adapted here.

What he had done was taken the strawberry shortcake recipe off the box of a certain, very popular premade biscuit mix, and added extra “everything,” as my mother put it. So, that’s what I did here, except instead of using the stuff in the yellow box, I used self-rising flour, which I’m pretty sure is basically the same thing.

The only other major change is the original recipe calls for regular melted butter, but as you’ll see in the video, I like to toast mine just a little, to bring out those subtle, nutty flavors. I'm hoping Armand Cianfoni would approve. I really hope you give “our” strawberry shortcake a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 6 Large or 8 Normal Strawberry Shortcakes:
2 cups self rising flour ((You can make you own by sifting together 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon fine salt)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tbsp butter, melted, and lightly toasted to a golden-brown

4 pints fresh strawberries
1/2 cup white sugar
*add 1 tbsp water, if strawberries aren’t perfectly ripe
3/4 cup cold heavy cream, whipped with a tablespoon of sugar and a few drops of vanilla (watch demo here)

- Bake at 425F.  for 15-18 minutes or until browned.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Memorial Day Grilling Special: Hot Dog Sausage aka “Hot Dogage”

The idea of making actual hot dogs doesn’t really interest me that much. Like French fries, and sushi, I believe hot dogs are best enjoyed out­; preferably at a baseball game, with a cold beer. However, I didn’t say anything about hotdog-inspired sausage hybrids.

This meaty mash-up came about thanks to some lamb kebab experiments. The meat mixture is prepared in a similar fashion, and while the seasonings are totally different, the firm texture of the kebab reminded me of a hot dog’s “snap.”

I wondered what would happen if I did a skewer-less kebab using the same ingredients that would typically go into a hotdog. What happened was better than I could've expected. I ended up with a fresh, mostly beef sausage, that tasted pretty much exactly like a hot dog.

Technically, this ended up being a lot closer to a bratwurst, but I’m pretty sure hot dogs are a more popular search, so that’s what I went with. As always, be sure to season these “to taste.” Just like when making meatballs, you can cook a small piece of the mixture, and adjust from there.

Like I said in the video, if you’re looking for something a little different for your Memorial Day cookout, I hope you give these hot dog sausages a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Giants Hot Dog Sausages:
1 1/4 pounds lean ground beef (10 to 15% fat is fine)
1/4 pound ground pork
4 tsp kosher salt (1/2 ounce by weight)
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp granulated onion powder
1/3 cup ice water