Friday, April 27, 2018

Scottish Oatcakes – The Pancake, Not the Paperweight

If you Google, “Scottish Oatcakes,” you’ll see lots of pictures of what looks like thick, dense, pressed oatmeal cookies, which is the most common version of this recipe. To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of those, since they tend to be very heavy, and filling, and not really something I want to feature as the centerpiece for a fancy brunch menu.

However, there is another pancake-like version, and this is my twist on that. I should’ve probably come up with my own, more appropriate name, but I really love saying “Scottish Oatcakes,” and it just sounds like something you’d want to eat for breakfast.

Once you mix up your batter, you can cook it right away, which produces something that looks identical to what we have here, except the texture will be much more toothsome. I do enjoy that approach, but if you let the mixture sit for a while, the oats continue to soften, resulting in a creamier center. I’ve also let this go overnight, which will give you a texture very similar to actual oatmeal. 

Regardless, you’re still going to get a beautifully browned, crusty exterior; and it’s that contrast that makes this so unique. Some people like to add dried fruit to these, but I do not. The same goes for the traditional pinch of cinnamon, since I really don’t want these to taste like oatmeal raisin cookies. As usual, suit yourself, but either way, I really do hope you give these great oatmeal pancakes a try soon. Enjoy!



Ingredients for 6 Scottish Oatcakes:
(this is only 2 portions, so feel free to double or triple the recipe)
1 cups *rolled oats
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large egg
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup **self-rising flour
1/4 cup melted butter for panfrying

* I used the regular kind, but if you have to use the instant ones, I probably wouldn’t cook them. I’d just mix them with the cream, and let it sit until the mixture thickened up. By the way, this is just a theory, as I’ve never attempted.

** If you don’t have self-rising flour, just add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, and an extra pinch of salt.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Strawberry Semifreddo – Semi-Amazing

I used to tell my students to never try making classic desserts “healthier,” since your guests will always compare it to the unhealthy, and undoubtedly far superior original version. 

And yet that’s exactly what I’ve done with this strawberry semifreddo, although, in fairness, that happened accidentally while I was trying to make the recipe easier.

Traditionally, we’d make an egg custard for the base, as well as cook down our strawberry puree to concentrate the flavors; and while that does produce a fine, and much richer semifreddo, I wanted something simpler, that didn’t require any cooking. Besides saving time, and eggs, I think we also get a little cleaner, more distinct berry flavor.

However, the price we pay for those skipped steps, and the modest amount of sugar, is a less smooth and creamy texture. An extra rich, classically made semifreddo can be quite similar to ice cream, whereas this will be much firmer when frozen. That's why you really do need to let these warm up for at least 10 or 15 minutes before serving.

In the video, I described the texture as something in between strawberry ice cream and a strawberry popsicle, which reminds me, if you do have the molds, this mixture would be perfect frozen on a stick. Regardless of your delivery system, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 10 Ramekins (mine were 5.5 ounces each):
1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
zest from 1 lemon
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar, optional
1 3/4 cups cold heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter

For the garnish:
1 1/2 cup diced or sliced strawberries
2 or 3 tablespoons white sugar, or as needed
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Creamy Ricotta Pasta Sauce – Now 100% Cream-Free!

I enjoy the taste and texture of a classic cream sauce, but what I don’t enjoy is that they tend to be very rich, and filling. I mean, come on, I’m trying to save room for the tiramisu. 

However, by using ricotta cheese, and egg, and some boiling pasta water, we can make a sauce that seems every bit as creamy, and delicious, but will still allow us to walk away from the table under our own power.

I added some pesto to mine this time, but that could have been some sun-dried tomato paste, or roasted chilies, or caramelized mushroom, or diced-up, leftover grilled veggies, or…you get the idea. The technique is really the thing to focus on here, and once perfected, you’ll simply be left trying to figure out what else to add in, or on this lovely sauce.

As I mentioned in the video, I love to top this pasta with ricotta salata. If you’ve never had it before, it’s worth a try, and not just for this dish. Ricotta salata is a great summer cheese, since it’s perfect with things like tomato salads, and grilled peaches, just to name a few. So, keep that in mind, but in the meantime, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
For the sauce base:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
zest from 1 lemon
cayenne to taste
about 2/3 cup hot pasta water, plus more if needed
For the pasta:
8 ounces dry pasta, cooked 1 minute under
1/4 cup pesto, or to taste
lots of grated ricotta salata to finish

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Miso Honey Chicken – Because Honey Miso Chicken Didn’t Have the Same Ring to It

It’s not hard to make a great marinade with just a few ingredients, as long as one of those ingredients is the magical miso. This super savory paste, made from fermented rice, barley, and soybeans, isn’t that hard to find, but what can be a challenge is understanding the different varieties available.

Miso is sold by “color,” and I’m recommending the white one here, except when you open the container, it’s not white, it’s sort of a golden yellow. They also sell a yellow miso, which is a slightly darker golden yellow, as well as a red miso, which is also a golden yellow. I’m just kidding…it’s actually dark brown.

The point is, the colors don’t refer to the actual color, but rather the processing method, and ratio of ingredients. And that’s basically the extent of my expertise. I choose the white, since it’s the most mild, but I encourage you to do some more research, as well as some experimentation.

After marinating overnight if possible, you’ll definitely want to cook your chicken with indirect heat. Otherwise, it will get too dark – as in black. Roasting in a 375 F. oven would be great, but if you use a charcoal grill, be sure to push your coals all the way over to one side of your grill, and place your chicken on the opposite site. Keep and eye on it, and turn/rotate the pieces as needed.

You can add many other things to this marinade, but maybe try the minimalist version first. I used to tell my students that the older you get, the fewer ingredients you use, so that’s my excuse, but I really want the clean flavors of the miso and honey coming through. Either way, I really hope you find some miso paste, and give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for enough marinade for one whole chicken:
3 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt (about 2 teaspoon fine salt)
lemon wedges and pepper flakes to garnish
- Let marinate overnight before roasting or grilling until the internal temp in the middle of the thigh is 165 F.
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Monday, April 9, 2018

Give Me a Break!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be off this week, taking what the kids are calling a "Spring Break." While my time off won’t include beaches, tropical drinks, and heavily-autotuned pop music, it will more than make up for that with sweet, sweet inactivity.

I’ll spend most of it getting mentally prepared for the NBA playoffs, but time permitting, I may also test out a few new, exciting recipes to feature in the near future. In the meantime, I’m sure there are plenty of old videos you’ve missed, so maybe go check those out, and as always, enjoy!

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Sweet Potato Pan-Dumplings with Bacon Butter – Good Save

What started out as a tragic, waterlogged disaster of a sweet potato dumpling attempt, turned into a triumph we’re calling  “pan-dumplings.” As usual, I did little to no research, so someone may have already invented pan-dumplings, but until I hear from you, I’ll be taking the credit.

I really liked being able to spoon the dough/batter directly into the pan, and cutting out the boiling step made these faster, and we have one less pot to wash. The bacon butter was very nice, but I can think of a dozen sauces that would work with these. If you’re doing it as a main course, anything goes, but as a side dish, I’d keep it simple, as we did here.

Since this was sort of an experiment, I wasn’t paying too close to the exact amounts, but the list below must be pretty close. You can play around with more or less flour, and/or cheese, and cook test dumplings until you lock it in. I wanted something with the taste of roasted sweet potatoes, but with more of a gnocchi-like texture, and I think this was pretty close, which is why I hope you give these pan-dumplings a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
12 ounces cooked sweet potato
1 large egg
1/4 cup goat cheese or cream cheese, plus more to garnish
1/2 cup *self -rising flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper and cayenne to taste
sliced green onions to top

* To make your own SRF, for every cup of all-purpose flour combine 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Chicken Spaghetti – Because Cows and Pigs Can’t Fly Either

A big bowl of spaghetti and meat sauce is one of my all-time favorite meals, and like most cooks, I make it a little different every time. The veggies change seasonally, and as far as the meat goes, sometimes it’s beef, or pork, or a combination, but for whatever reason, chicken is rarely considered. It’s usually only when I’m using up leftovers that I think to toss it with noodles. So, I almost forget how great this is when you dedicate a whole bird, and a few hours to the effort.

Other than requiring a little time, this recipe is dead simple, with the only major decision being how thick to make your sauce. I like something fairly light, I guess because it’s chicken, but if you do want something thicker, simply change the ratio of sauce to water when you start the recipe. You can also reduce it longer, but you knew that.

Just be sure to undercook your pasta by at least a minute here, since as you saw we’re going to finish it in hot sauce for a couple minutes at the end. This is a critical step, and allows all those flavors to get sucked up by the still hydrating spaghetti. This is also a great make-ahead meal, as you can prep your sauce one day, and then assemble the finished dish at a later date. Either way, I really do hope you give this chicken spaghetti a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for enough Chicken Spaghetti Sauce for between 1 and 1.5 pounds of pasta, depending on how “saucy” you want it:
1 large whole chicken (4 1/2 to 5 pounds), with bag inside cavity removed
1 jar (24-oz) marinara sauce (about 3 cups)
6 cups water or chicken broth
2 anchovy fillets
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
red chili flakes to taste

To finish the dish, for each person:
4 ounces spaghetti, cooked, drained (not rinsed!)
enough chicken spaghetti sauce and to please you
more grated cheese
1 tablespoon cold butter
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
salt and hot pepper to taste
at least 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese