Sunday, November 1, 2009

The one-egg pancake

Rule number one for pancakes: They must be homemade. So, please put down the bisquick or whatever awful instant pancake mix your using and follow these simple instructions.

This recipe is based on ratios of ingredients to each other so you'll need a kitchen scale to follow along. If you don't have one, invest.

The ratio for pancake batter is 2,2,1,1/2

Thats 2 parts flour, 2 parts milk, 1 part egg, and 1/2 part oil.

* Put a mixing bowl on your scale and zero out. Now crack one egg into the bowl. What's it weigh?

* Pour double the weight of the egg in milk into the bowl.

* Pour 1/2 the weight of the egg in oil into the bowl.

* Add a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

* Whisk

* In a separate bowl, add double the weight of the egg in flour to the bowl.

* Add the weight of the egg in sugar to the bowl. Yes the ratio doesn't call for sugar, but you NEED it.

* Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder

* Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

* Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and make pancakes!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Quick breads

I typically don't follow recipes when I'm cooking, unless I'm baking. Baking scares the hell out of me.

Cue Ratio, the new book by Michael Ruhlman. He's outlined the basic ratios of ingredients to each other when cooking. Allowing you to break free from the confines of recipes books and, with confidence, create your own recipes on the fly. I have to say, it has done what he promised, and liberated me.

The ratio for quick breads (things like muffins, banana breads, etc) is simple 2-2-1-1.

So for any type of quick bread, you mix 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part sugar, 1 part fat. Easy peasy. Salt and baking powder aren't noted in the ratio, but you'll want to add them.

Want to make blueberry muffins?

8 ounces flour
8 ounces milk
4 ounces sugar
4 ounces butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

How about making apple cinnamon bread?

8 ounces flour
6 ounces milk
2 ounces apple juice
4 ounces brown sugar
4 ounces butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
Diced apples

How about ginger-cranberry bread? (BTW, I just made up this recipe)

8 ounces flour
6 ounces milk
2 ounces cranberry juice
4 ounces sugar
4 ounces butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 teaspoons baking powder

Based on this ratio, what's your unique quick bread recipe?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Braised short ribs

I'm in love with short ribs, braised short ribs to be exact. It is the perfect example of a inexpensive cut that rivals any of the more expensive cuts, provide the right technique is employed.

While I'm talking about cuts of meat, can I say that the tenderloin is completely overrated? People gravitate to that cut because of it's low fat content, however, the lack of fat equates to a lack of flavor. Tenderness is it's one saving grace. However, as you'll see in this recipe, proper technique can take a flavor-packed, yet tough cut of meat and turn it into something spectacular.

Making braised short-ribs

Before you start, you're going to need a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed oven-safe pot.

First, stop by your butcher and pick-up some meaty beef chuck short ribs.

You'll also need to gather and prep some basic mise en place: Mirepoix, a bouquet garni, and tomato paste.

Heat olive oil in your dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the short ribs and start to sear.

Be prepared to sear for about 10-15 minutes. You're looking for a deep deep brown on all sides of the short ribs. Once they are browned, set aside.

Add your mirepoix and sweat. About 5 minutes.

Add your tomato paste and then stir. Cook this for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Careful not to burn. If you need to reduce the heat, do so.

Once done, add your short ribs back to the pot along with your bouquet garni.

Fill the pot with beef broth and red wine in a ratio of about 2 to 1. Don't cover the short ribs, fill until the liquid is about 2/3 of the way up.

Cover and put into 375 degree oven for two hours. Once done, pull out the short ribs.

Strain the braising liquid into an pan and reduce by 2/3.

Once reduced, remove from heat and whisk in cold butter to mount the sauce.

I served with Saga Blue Cheese mashed potatoes and garnished with crispy bone marrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a pushover for popovers

Popovers have changed my life! Not really, but I'm completely obsessed with making them, both in the morning and evenings. They work well with sweet AND savory.

How do you make a popover..simple.

First you're going to need a muffin tin, non-stick.

Now, heat your oven to 400F.

The batter for popovers is simple.

2 parts liquid
1 part egg
1 part flour

The "parts" in the recipe should be done by weight. So for example, take 4 ounces of milk and add 2 ounces of egg (about one large egg). Mix. Then add 2 ounces of flour and a pinch of salt. Mix. Let sit while your oven heats.

Pour a little bit of canola oil in the bottoms of the muffin tin. No more than a 1/2 teaspoon. Fill the tins up 3/4 of the way with batter.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 375F. Bake another 20 minutes. Voila.

To serve sweet, top with a little butter and a good quality jam or preserve. Artisan made would be ideal.

For savory meals, these make a great addition to grilled or roasted meats. Use 'em to sop up the juices!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Take steak to the next level

Steak by itself is wonderful. Technically, there's no need to sauce it up. The flavor of a nice fatty ribeye can hold it's own, no problem. However, if your looking to take steak to the next level, try topping it with a salsa verde.

Salsa verde. There are many permutations of what translates to "green sauce". Mexican culture's version is very different than an Italian-style salsa verde. I'm not showing you either. This is what I'd like to think of as an American salsa verde.

The list of ingredients is simple: Parsley, shallot, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper (It goes without saying that these should always be flat-leaf, fresh, fresh, extra-virgin, kosher, and fresh-cracked, respectively.)

The ratios of each can vary according to personal taste, but here's my loose measurements for two steaks worth.

1 cup (loosely packed) of parsley, stems removed. Finely chop after measuring.
2 tablespoons of finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon of finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch salt
pepper to taste

Mix the chopped parsley, shallot and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper and olive oil. Mix more.

I would suggest grilling your steaks (Ribeye preferably) to medium-rare / medium. Let rest for 5 minutes after cooking. Do NOT cut into them beforehand!

Top with the salsa verde. Eat. Feel like a hero.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making Salads Better

Update: Don't worry about the smoke coming out of the oven, the olive oil dripped off the sheet pan onto the oven bottom. It looked much worse than it was. Please note, use an oven safe dish with sides to prevent the same thing from happening to you...