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Fried Egg BLT

BLT

Fried Egg BLT

It doesn’t get much simpler than a BLT.  It’s one of those things that you don’t want to mess with.  Toasted bread, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato,  and lots of mayo.  That’s all you need. Oh, and don’t forget to throw on a fried egg.

Fried eggs really do make everything better.  They also have the magical ability to turn any meal into breakfast.  Sure, there is nothing wrong with a plain old BLT with out the egg, but the runny yolk takes it to the next level and after having it once, you won’t want BLTs any other way.

There really isn’t much that needs explaining about this recipe.  I used a sourdough, but you can use any bread you want.  Same goes for the lettuce.  I like the crispness of iceberg but any greens will do.  You could go for romaine, or change it up and use arugula or even kale.  I personally like to stick with mayo on my BLTs, anything else feels a little wrong to me.

BLT

Don’t forget to give the sandwich a good squish to burst the yolk before eating it.  You want it to drip all over the bacon.  Napkins may be necessary.  This recipe is a for one sandwich, so adjust the amounts depending on how many you want to make.

BLT

Fried Egg BLT

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of sourdough bread (or any sliced bread)
  • 4-5 slices of bacon
  • 1 egg
  • Torn Iceberg Lettuce
  • Sliced Tomato
  • Mayo
  • ½ tbsp. Butter or olive oil, for frying the egg
  • salt and pepper

Method

  • Start by preheating the oven to 400°F and lining a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Lay bacon flat on sheet and place in preheated over for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it as exact cooking times will vary.
  • As bacon cooks, preheat a non-stick pan over medium low heat and either melt in butter, or drizzle in olive oil. Carefully crack the egg into the pan and allow it to fry until the whites are set leaving the yolk runny, this will take about 3-4 minutes.
  • When ready to build the sandwiches, toast the bread and spread mayo on 1 side of both pieces of bread. Pile on the bacon, lettuce, and tomato and then season to taste with salt and pepper.  Carefully place the fried egg on top adding a bit more salt and pepper if desired.  Place the top piece of bread on mayo side down and give it a quick squish to burst the yolk.
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Smoked Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa Verde

Smoked Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa Verde

Smoked Chicken

When I think of an exciting dinner, chicken is not usually the first thing to pop into my head.  I typically think of chicken as boring and uninspired.  Probably because growing up, I had chicken breast for dinner several times a week.  But chicken doesn’t have to be boring.  It’s a great protein and there are so many things you can do with it to make it something that you actually crave.  In the summer,  I love to grill whole chickens.  My favorite way to do it is by flattening it, and giving it a flavorful spice rub.  It’s also fun to make beer can chicken on the Grill.

Smoked LA

Smoking chicken is something that I’ve been wanting to try for a while now and since I’ve got my Traeger, I can make it whenever I want!  Smoking is actually a really simple way to prepare chicken.  It takes a bit longer than just grilling it, but I love the smoky flavor you get by cooking it low and slow.  If you’re anything like me, you probably agree that the best part of grilling chicken is the crispy skin.  If you just smoke the chicken over low heat, you won’t really get a crispy skin, but by cranking up the Traeger to high, you can get a super crispy skin, just take a look at these pictures!

Smoked Chicken

One of the biggest issues people tend to have when cooking chicken is drying it out.  I have a few tips to ensure you end up with a juicy bird.  Firstly, brine the chicken.  You can either do a wet brine or a dry brine.  I tend to prefer dry brining my chicken.  This basically consists of rubbing the chicken with salt and allowing it to rest in the fridge.  It’s that simple.  And if you are following this recipe and making a dry rub, you can put the whole rub on which will essentially act as a brine because of the salt content in it.

Smoked Chicken

The second tip I have is to use a meat thermometer.  Chicken is very susceptible to drying out so you don’t want to cook it past 165°F.  There is no shame in checking the temperature periodically.  It’s not going to let any juices out and it is definitely better than dry chicken.  I swear by the Thermapen when I need a thermometer.  Another thing to keep in mind is that when cooking chicken on the bone, it tends to stay juicer so whenever you can, cook it on the bone.

Traeger Grill

The dry rub I used for this recipe has a quite a few ingredients in it, but the exact recipe isn’t that important.  You can use any dry rub you want or even just stick with salt and pepper.  A lot of the delicious flavor in this recipe comes from the salsa verde anyway.  The rub will also give you some extra, which you can store for later use.  I like to make big batches of dry rubs so I have them on hand at all times.

Salsa Verde

I love vibrant green sauces like these.  Whether it’s a pesto, chimichurri, or salsa verde, there are so many delicious sauce that you can quickly whip up with some fresh herbs, olive oil, and a few simple  ingredients.  They really take a standard meal to the next level.  The sauce will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge and goes great on fish, steak, or even sandwiches.

I cooked this chicken on my Traeger, but you could also use indirect/direct heat on a charcoal grill if you don’t have one.

Smoked Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa Verde

Ingredients

  • 8 quartered chicken pieces (legs or breasts)
For the Rub
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup ground coffee
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp crushed chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds cracked with mortar and pestle or spice grinder
For the Salsa Verde
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 3 jalapeños, seeds removed
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

To make the rub, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Cover, and set aside until ready to use.  Place the chicken on a baking sheet or wire rack and fully coat in the dry rub.  Use your hands to really coat the chicken ensuring you get in all the crevices and under the skin if possible.  Place the chicken in the fridge uncovered for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

While the chicken is doing its thing in the fridge, make the salsa verde.  Start by removing the seeds from the Jalapeños and then placing the seeded jalapeños in a food processor along with the garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil.  Pulse together until very finely chopped into an almost paste like consistency.  Add in the Cilantro and Parsley and continue to pulse until roughly chopped.  While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until smooth and your desired consistency is reached.  Squeeze in the lemon along with its zest and season to taste with salt and pepper and then transfer to bowl.  Store in fridge and then take it out while your chicken is cooking.

Take the chicken out of the fridge about 45 minutes before you want to cook it.  To cook the chicken, start your Traeger on smoke with the lid open until the flame starts, about 5 minutes.  Close lid and set to 225°F allowing it to preheat for 15 minutes.  Place the chicken on the grill, skin side up and allow it to cook for about an hour and half to 2 hours or until the chicken reaches 155°F.  At this point, remove the chicken to a tray, and then crank up the grill to 450°F.  Allow it to preheat for another 15 minutes and then place the chicken back on, skin side up.  Close the grill and allow the chicken to finish cooking until an internal temperature of 165°F and then remove.  Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Slather the chicken with the jalapeño salsa verde to serve.

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Classic Cheeseburgers With Special Sauce

As you probably know, burgers are one of my favorite things to make, but more importantly, they  are one of my favorite things to eat.  I like to think that I’ve developed some pretty good burger making skills over the years through a lot of trial and error.  If anyone wants to be a taste tester, let me know.

Cheeseburger

A good cheeseburger is super simple, yet there are a lot of variables that can have a huge impact on the final product.  The type of meat you use, the way you form the patties, what type of pan you use, the bun, the cheese, and the toppings are all things that will effect the final burger.  You can check out my burger tips but I will reiterate some of them here as well.

I always use freshly ground meat when making burgers.   You don’t have to but if it’s available to you, I’d definitely recommend it.  I also use chuck with at least an 80/20 lean to fat ratio.  I’ve played around with other cuts and combinations of cuts and I personally enjoy pure chuck the best.  Something that’s important to keep in mind when forming patties is to be as gentle with the meat as you can.  I like to gently form the meat into balls and then compress it using my hands.  You don’t want to start messing around with it too much, it can result in a dry burger.  Also never add anything to the meat.  You don’t need an egg, you don’t need any spices, and you definitely don’t need any bread crumbs.  We are making burgers, not meatloaf.

Special Sauce

One of the often overlooked components of a burger is the sauce.  I often see people just putting ketchup and mustard on their burgers, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I prefer to use a “special sauce” or a “secret sauce”.    It’s that flavor that leaves you wanting more and what makes takeout burgers so good.  If you want to achieve that takeout feel at home, I’d say special sauce is a key component.  I’m going to share the recipe for the special sauce that I basically use on all of my burgers.  It’s something that I always have at least a bottle of sitting in the fridge.

Special Sauce

You don’t need any special equipment to make the sauce, but I like to run it in a food processor so it can smoothly come out of a squeeze bottle.  For this recipe, HomeSense has provided me with a Cuisinart food processor to help spread the word about the Privé event they have going on from March 23-29.  The event focuses on perfectly priced brand name small appliances and is available in select stores.  More information on HomeSense Privé can be found here.  If you are interested in the Privé, keep in mind that there is limited quantity and the best stock will be available on the 23rd.

Cheeseburger

If you don’t care about being able to use a squeeze bottle for the sauce, you can just mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  I’m telling you though, once you try this sauce, you are going to want to keep it stocked at all times.  The recipe makes just over 1 cup so if you want to make more or less of it, just double or half the recipe.  The sauce also will keep for a long time if you are using relatively new ingredients.  There is nothing in it that really goes bad, just be sure to note the expiry date of the ingredients if you plan to store it.

Whether you are new to making burgers at home, or have been struggling with achieving results you are happy with, if you follow my burger recipe, I can almost guarantee that you will be making drool-worthy cheeseburgers in no time!

Cheeseburger

Ingredients

For the Burgers
  • 2 lb Ground Chuck
  • 8 slices American Cheese
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper
  • 4 buns (potato or brioche)
  • Butter for searing
For the Special Sauce
  • 1 cup Mayo
  • 2 tbsp relish
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

To make the special sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Alternatively, mix all the ingredients together in bowl.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

To make the burgers, start by pre-heating a large cast iron skillet over high heat.  While the pan is heating, divide the meat into 8 3.5 oz portions.  There will be leftover so you can make an additional patty or freeze for making sauces or chilis.  Gently shape the portions into balls and then flatten to about 1/4″ thick patties.  Season one side of the patties generously with slat and pepper.

Meanwhile, set another pan over medium heat and melt in enough butter to very lightly coat the pan.  Toast all the buns cut side down until golden brown and then flip them over to toast the not cut ends.  Toasting both sides helps gives the buns a bit more stability.  Remove buns and place them on a workstation or plates where you will build the burgers.

Melt a good amount of butter into your pre-heated cast iron skillet. You want to make sure it’s really hot.  The goal is to get a good crust on the outside but leave the inside juicy. It’s going to be smokey so make sure your fan is on and fire alarms are at a safe distance. Place the burgers in the pan seasoned side down and then season the other side with salt and pepper.  Sear for 1.5 minutes and then flip.  Place the cheese on after the flip and sear for an additional minute.  Remove burgers and place on tray.

To build the burgers, squeeze or spread a good amount of sauce on both the top and bottom bun and place 2 patties on each bun.  If desired, add sliced pickles, shredded lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.

 

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Grilled Salmon Tacos with Smoky Tomato Salsa

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Smoky Tomato Salsa

salmon tacos

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of grilling.  Whether it’s summer or winter, you can always find me behind a grill.  There’s something about cooking over an open fire.  Food just seems to taste better.

Given my love for grilling, it’s no surprise how much I’ve been enjoying my new Traeger.  It runs off of wood pellets and allows for grilling as well as smoking but has temperature controls that allow for enough precision for it to essentially be used as an oven.  It’s definitely one of my favorite kitchen toys.   This is my first recipe using the Traeger but you can definitely expect more in the future.  I’ve made some killer smoked briskets with it as well as some of the best chicken I’ve ever had.

Grilled salmon

On to the tacos…. I’ll be honest, I typically don’t love cooked salmon.  These tacos are a different story though.  I’d happily eat this salmon all day long.  Cooking it on a smoky grill with a simple, yet flavorful spice rub really takes it to the next level.

Another big thing with cooking salmon, or any fish for that matter is to not overcook it.  Salmon easily dries out, and becomes unpleasant if its cooked too far past medium rare, at least as far as my tastebuds go. Also, use the freshest salmon you can get your hands on.  It makes a big difference.

Grilled salmon

An instant read thermometer is your friend.  If you don’t have one I highly recommend the Thermapen or Thermapop from Thermoworks, I use the thermapen on a daily basis.

The salmon is definitely the star of these tacos but the salsa is a close second.  Charring the vegetables over a smoky grill really gives the salsa smokiness that you can taste.  I like to leave most of the seeds and membrane in the jalapeños but it does end up pretty spicy that way.  If you’re not a big fan of spice, I’d recommend scrapping the inside of the jalapeños out before everything goes in the food processor.

salmon tacos

You can also make the salsa a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge.  It makes for super quick weeknight meal if everything is ready to go.  Same thing with the spice rub.  Make a batch of it in advance and there is almost no prep for these tacos.

salmon tacos

I like to top the tacos with shredded cabbage and a bit of fresh cilantro but you can top them with whatever you happen to have on hand.

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Smoky Tomato Salsa

Ingredients

For the salmon
  • 1 1/2 – 2 pound salmon filet (skin on)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tbsp oregano
  • 1/4 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
  • drizzle of olive oil
For the Salsa
  • 1 pound medium vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 limes
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • olive oil
To build the tacos
  • Corn tortillas
  • shredded green cabbage
  • limes
  • cilantro

Method

To make the spice rub, add salt, ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, oregano, and cracked pepper in a bowl.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Preheat grill to about 275°F . Score an “X” on the bottom of the tomatoes and brush the vegetables (tomatoes, jalapeño, red onion) for the salsa with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place them on the grill for about half an hour.  They are done when they have started to soften and are beginning to char.  We aren’t trying to blacken the vegetables, we are just giving them a smoky flavor.

Remove the vegetables and allow to cool until they can safely be handled. Peel away the skin of the tomatoes and remove the seeds and the membrane of the jalapeño if desired. Add them, along with the onion and cilantro to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until everything is roughly chopped.  Squeeze in the lime and drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and continue to pulse until your preferred texture.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and set aside, or store in fridge until ready to serve.

To prepare the cabbage, thinly slice half a head of green cabbage and squeeze on the juice of 1 lime and season with salt, store in fridge until ready to serve

Increase the heat on the grill to 400°F.  To prepare the salmon, place it flesh side down and lightly score the skin with a sharp knife.  Drizzle olive oil onto the fish and sprinkle the spice rub all over it.  You want to do this to both sides of the fish.  When the grill is hot, place the salmon on skin side down and then close the grill.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until an internal temperature of 125°F for medium rare.  When the fish is cooked, carefully remove it from the grill with a large spatula and transfer to a serving plate.  Allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

To serve the tacos, place a pile of warm tortillas in foil and allow everybody to tear off pieces of the salmon.  Top with the smoky salsa, cilantro leaves, cabbage slaw, and a squeeze of lime.

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An Easy Guide to Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Sous vide cooking is becoming more and more popular with home cooks all the time.  I’ve been using it for about 2 years now and just in that time, I’ve seen a huge amount of growth in it.  I actually recently read an article on Buzzfeed that included Sous Vide as a cooking trend for 2017 so we’ll see how that plays out.

I’m not really surprised in it’s popularity at all.  It’s such a great way to cook and ensure you get perfect and delicious results every time. I mostly use it to cook steak but there are so many different things you can cook sous vide.  Lately I’ve been doing a lot of burgers with it as well.  The appliances are also becoming more and more affordable with many different brands selling immersion circulators.  I use the Nomiku and if you are thinking of purchasing one, feel free to use my code “thechefdan” for a special discount on their website here.

On to the lamb.  I think for a lot of people, cooking a rack of lamb can be a little intimidating.  It’s not particularly hard, but I can definitely see why that perception exists.  It’s a lot of pressure and is something that you don’t want to screw up.  The same is true of any large roast, especially an expensive cut like rack of lamb. But when using Sous Vide, you don’t have to worry about screwing up the meat.  You just set the water to your desired temperature, and can be confident that the meat will perfectly cook.

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

If buying the lamb at your butcher, ask them to french the rack of lamb.  This involves trimming most of the meat and fat between the bones to expose them.  If the lamb is already prepared in a grocery store and packaged, don’t worry if there is a bit of fat left on the bones, I actually prefer a little bit of fat left on anyway as you can tell from the pictures.

As far as the timing goes for cooking the lamb, I usually like to leave my meat in the water bath for a longer, rather than shorter time.  For a full rack like this, I would suggest anywhere from 4-8 hours.  It won’t cook past your desired temperature but it will become more tender as it cooks longer.  I also like my lamb around medium rare and find that 131°F is the perfect temperature but feel free to go higher or lower depending on your preference.

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

If you’re into cooking Sous-Vide, you’ve probably noticed a lot of recipes involve shocking the bag in ice water after it’s done.  If you’re searing your meat right away, this step is optional but I still tend to do it as it cools the meat down and ensures you don’t continue to cook it when searing.  If you plan to sear the meat at a later time, shocking in ice water is intended to quickly chill the meat down to a safe temperature before putting it in the fridge.

When searing my Sous-Vide meat, I always use a cast iron skillet and lots of butter.  You can use any high-heat oil as a substitute and if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can use a bbq or do it under the broiler.

I like rack of lamb as an appetizer where everyone gets 2-3 ribs, but you easily make this a main course or smaller snack depending on how you want to serve it.  I also like to serve it with a red wine reduction, mint chimichurri, or mint yogurt sauce.

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb

Ingredients

  • Frenched rack of lamb
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 4-5 sprigs of rosemary
  • Unsalted butter, for searing
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Method

Start by filling a large pot or cooking safe container with water and attaching your immersion circulator. Set it to 131°F for medium rare. Pat the racks of lamb dry with paper towel and place them into large freezer safe Ziplock bags and seal using the water displacement method.  Alternatively, seal them using a vacuum sealer with food safe bags.

Once the water is at temperature, place the sealed lamb into the water bath ensuring it is fully submerged.  Cover the cooking vessel with foil or saran wrap and allow it to cook for about 6 hours. After the elapsed time, carefully remove the bag and place it into a large bowl of ice water for 5 minutes and then remove the lamb from the bag and pat dry with paper towel.

Pre-heat your cast iron skillet over high heat.  In the meantime, liberally season all sides of the lamb with salt and pepper.  When the skillet is very hot, melt in butter and then carefully place in the lamb.  Add the garlic cloves and rosemary to the melted butter as well to baste the lamb as it sears.  Sear each side of the lamb for about 1 minute until deeply browned and nicely charred.

Slice the lamb into individual ribs by cutting between each bone to expose the perfectly cooked interior.

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Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Firstly, I want to wish everybody a Happy New Year.  It’s hard to believe that it is 2017 and that this is the third year that I have been creating and sharing recipes with all of you!  I just got back from a trip to Mexico so I thought tacos would be appropriate for the first recipe of the year.

Shredded chicken tacos

There are literally infinite ways to make tacos and almost anything can be used as the filling.  From classics like fish to more unique ideas like grilled avocado or Sriracha fried chicken, I think that anything tastes better when eaten in a tortilla.  As much as I like trying new unique tacos, I think that the simpler is better and it doesn’t get much simpler than shredded chicken.

Simply shredding up some grilled chicken and topping it with a bit of fresh salsa would make a great taco, but creating a deep and flavorful sauce that the chicken is cooked in takes it to the next level.  The amount of flavor you can build in a relatively short period of time for this sauce makes it worth it any day.

Since the base of these tacos is already wet, I tend to keep the toppings to a minimum as opposed to if I was using flank steak or beer battered fish.  These tacos are totally delicious and satisfying on their own but I like to put out a few toppings to give people option when building their tacos. Thinly sliced jalapeños, shaved red onion, shredded cabbage, and cilantro leaves all make great toppings to add a refreshing bite to the tacos and they help create some texture.

Shredded chicken tacos

When it comes to tortillas, you can use either flour or corn, whichever you prefer.  I like both but I much prefer corn tortillas when they are charred.  If you have a gas stove, throw them right on the burner for a perfect char.  If I’m not charring the tortillas I usually stick with flour, which is what I did with these.

What I love about these tacos, and tacos in general is that they are suitable for so many different occasions.  They make for a relatively quick weeknight meal that everyone will enjoy but they also work perfect for dinner parties or can be set up as a taco bar for a larger party if you increase the recipe.

I wish that I had gotten a few more pictures of these tacos but as you will find out, they are incredibly delicious and not easy to resist.

Shredded Chicken Tacos

Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients

  • 4 bone in skin on chicken breasts (skinless and/or boneless could be used as well)
  • 1 can (16 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 3-4 chilis in adobo sauce (from a can), finely chopped
  • 1/2 spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, dried
  • Flour tortillas
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
   Toppings
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Shredded cabbage dressed in lime juice
  • Shaved red onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • sour cream
  • lime wedges

Method

Season all of the chicken with salt and pepper and preheat olive oil in heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken skin side down until browned, about 2-3 minutes (or until golden brown) and then flip and brown the other side.  Remove chicken to plate and set aside.

Lower heat to medium.  In the remaining oil and rendered chicken fat, add Spanish onion and a big pinch of salt.  Cook until softened, 5-7 minutes stirring often.  Add in the chopped adobo peppers along with garlic and bay leaf and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often.  Once the onion and adobo mixture is cooked down, place the chicken back into the pan, skin side up, along with any juices from the plate.  Pour in the tomato sauce around the chicken and try to stir everything together around the chicken. Lower heat and bring the sauce to a light simmer and cover the pan.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F.

After 20 minutes, carefully remove the chicken to a board and shred the meat off the bone using two forks.  Continue to shred until desired consistency is reached.  Ensure that there are no bones in the shredded chicken.  Return the shredded chicken to the sauce and stir everything together.  Season it to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, either transfer the chicken mixture to a separate dish or serve it right out of the pan.  Serve the chicken along with your desired toppings and tortillas and allow everyone to build their own tacos.

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Easy No-Knead Artisan Bread

Easy No-Knead Artisan Bread

No Knead artisan bread

Believe it or not, this is actually one my favorite recipes that I have up here.  There’s just something about homemade bread that I’ve always loved.  Nothing beats cutting into a loaf that you made with your own two hands.  No matter what, it is always going to taste better than anything you could ever buy.

No knead artisan bread

Now, there are tons of recipes for no-knead bread floating around the internet but I wanted to share it here as well.  There are a few small things that this recipe has that truly make it amazing.  I guarantee you that when you try this, you are going to be shocked at how simple it was too make and how incredibly good the results turned out to be.  There really isn’t much you could do to screw this recipe up.

Despite it being super easy to make, this recipe does require a bit of time.  Part of what makes this bread so good is the long rise time that the dough gets.  As opposed to a typical bread recipe that is kneaded, no-knead bread requires a relatively long time to ferment in order to build up the glutens that give the bread its great texture.

No knead artisan bread

I don’t really consider the long rise a drawback, it’s just something that you need to take into account and plan for.  I like to let the dough rise for 16-18 hours so you’re going to want to prep it the night before you plan to bake it.    Another thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need a large oven safe cocotte or dutch-oven.  Cast iron is going to work best since it really locks in the heat but I think any sort of vessel would work.  Cooking in the cocotte creates the steam necessary to get a super crisp and rustic crust.

No knead bread dough

The first time I made this bread, I actually made it another two times in the same weekend.  That’s three loaves in one weekend.. I think I may have a problem.  I think its best hot and fresh out of the oven but another great use for it is to let it go a bit stale, then grill it with olive oil and rub with garlic.  You really could use it for anything though and it will elevate whatever you use it for, whether it be grilled cheese, croutons, any sandwich or for dipping into soup.   My favorite way to eat it is  on its own and maybe with some runny eggs for dipping.

no knead bread

Again, please don’t be intimated by the long rising time. This recipe really couldn’t be easier. Unlike many other types of baking, this recipe is really forgiving.  You don’t need to worry about super precise measurements at all.  I’ve had a bit of inconsistencies in the dough due to laziness or because I was rushing and the bread has turned out perfect every time.  It’s one of those things that you just need to get a feel for.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Easy No-Knead Artisan Bread

Makes 1 Loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • warm water (about 110°F)

METHOD

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt.  Pour in about 1 1/2 cups warm water and stir everything together with a wooden spoon or spatula until the dough comes together.  If necessary add more water 1/2 tablespoon at a time until a dough forms.  At this point the dough will look rough and sticky.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 12-18 hours, ideally closer to 18.

When ready to bake, place your cocotte or dutch oven into your oven preheated to 450°F and allow it to get really hot for at least 30 minutes.

While the dutch oven is preheating, flour your hands very well, and dump the dough onto a piece of parchment paper.  Form it into a ball tucking the edges underneath and then lightly dust with flour and cover with a piece of plastic wrap.  Allow it to rise for another 30 minutes to an hour while the dutch oven is preheating.

After it’s preheated, using oven mitts, carefully remove the dutch oven and transfer the dough into the pot.  I recommend transferring it with the parchment paper.  It’s cleaner and makes for easier transferring.  Just pick up the corners of the paper and carefully drop it in.  Return lid to dutch oven and place it back in the oven.

Allow it to bake for 45 minutes with the lid on, and then carefully remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes until perfectly browed and crisp

Finally, remove the bread from the dutch oven and allow it to slightly cool before cutting into it and enjoying.

 

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Spicy Miso Pho Ga

Pho Ga

A good bowl of Pho is one of my favourite things to get for take-out. It’s one of those take-out items that is just as good at home as it is in the restaurant.  Since the broth is packed separate from the noodles and all the toppings, everything stays nice and fresh.

Now, I know this recipe is far from an authentic Pho Ga.  I’m definitely not claiming that it is traditional or anything similar to what you might get in a Vietnamese restaurant. But this is my own version and it’s inspired by my favourite take out spot.

pho ga

There are a few things that make this recipe so delicious.  The star of the show is really the broth.  Without a good broth, you’re not going to end up with an enjoyable soup.  The second is all the toppings.  I love all the fresh and bright toppings, they really make the soup.  I like to prep a big plate of all the toppings and serve it alongside the soup so you can keep adding more as you go.

The broth for this was adapted from a friend of mine’s blog.  You can check out the original right here, on Christine’s blog, What Do You Crave.  The only reason I even made changes were out of convenience and because of what I happened to have on hand.  I didn’t have leek so I used green onion instead.  I also had some cloves so I through those in the broth as well.  The only other change I made was grilling the vegetables on the BBQ before adding them to the pot whereas Christine baked them in the oven.

I was really impressed with how flavorful the broth came to be in such a relatively short time.  It may seem like kind of pain to make your own broth from scratch but it really is pretty effortless, and is so much better than any result you’ll get using a boxed chicken stock.  I made the broth a day in advance.  This really broke up the process for me and made it feel even simpler.  It’s also easier to skim off excess fat after the broth has chilled in the fridge for a bit.

pho ga toppings

Another cool thing I did was serve the broth out of my new tea kettle.  It was a fun way to serve everything at the table. To serve everything up, make a big plate of all your toppings.  You don’t have to use exactly the same things I used.  You can add in whatever you want.   Once you’re toppings are all set up, add your noodles to the bowl and then pour in the broth.  Top the soup to your liking and you’re good to go.

Spicy Miso Pho Ga

Makes 4 bowls

Ingredients

For the broth

  • 1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • small bunch of green onion
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 dried thai chili (can sub in a big pinch of chili flakes)
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • 16 oz rice noodles

Optional Toppings 

  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Cilantro, torn
  • Radishes, thinly sliced
  • Green onion, thinly sliced
  • Wasabi micro greens
  • lime wedges
  • Shredded chicken
  • soft boiled egg

Method

To make the broth, char the onion, green onion, and ginger on a grill (or under broiler).  Don’t worry about removing the skin from the onion, it will easily come off once its charred.  You want to let everything cook until it’s softened and nicely colored.  The green onions will go quick but the yellow onion and ginger can stay on for about 15 minutes or so.  Remove from grill, and then add to a large stock pot with the chicken.  Be sure to remove any of the remaining charred skin off the onion.  Bruise the lemongrass with the side off a knife and then put that in as well .  Add the cloves, star anise, chili, sugar and salt, and then cover with with about 12 cups of cold water.

Bring it to a boil skimming off the fat as it accumulates on top.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow it to cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

At this point, carefully remove the chicken and shred the meat off the bone. Set the shredded meat aside for now.

If you can, try to cut the chicken carcass into several pieces, this will help extract additional flavour for the broth.  Put all the remaining bones back into the broth for another 1-2 hours with the pot partially covered.  1 hour will be fine but you can let it go for an additional hour or so.

After 1-2 hours. Remove the chicken bones and then stir in the miso paste to dissolve.

Remove and discard all the remaining vegetables and then put the soup through a fine mesh strainer.  There will still be fat on top that needs to be skimmed off.  At this point you can either begin to prep your toppings, or chill the broth and save it for the next day.

To get ready for serving, cook noodles according package directions and then rinse under cold water.

If you are serving with soft boiled eggs, cook them for 6 and a half minutes and then peel them carefully under running water.

Get all your other toppings ready and place them together on a plate.

Build your bowls by adding noodles and then pouring over the hot broth.  Top as desired and enjoy

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Homemade Caramel Apples with Skor and Peanuts

Homemade Caramel Apples with Skor and Peanuts

Caramel Apples

Hard to believe that Halloween is already here. Not really complaining though.  Fall is a great time of the year and there are so many great fall recipes that I’d like to make.  These caramel apples just happen to be one of them.

Making caramel apples at home is pretty simple but for some reason I haven’t always gotten the best results.  The main issue that I had, and I think it’s an issue that others struggle with as well is getting the caramel to stick to the apples.  What would usually happen to me was I would make the apples, stick them in the fridge to set, only to find that when I came back to check on them, most of the caramel had dripped down to the bottom of the apple.

Caramel Apples

After a few quick searches on google I finally have found the solution.  Apples have a waxy coating around them.  I’m not going to get into any details about it, but the one relevant thing about the wax is that it stops the caramel from properly adhering to the apple.  I figured that washing the apples under cold running water was enough to get rid of the coating but apparently not.  The real trick is to dip the apples into boiling water with a splash of vinegar added to it and then shock them in cold water and rinse them off.  This technique will get rid of the wax and ensure the caramel sticks.

Caramel Apples

Since I learned about this trick, my apples have been coming out perfect.  Another tip is to make sure you put the apples in the fridge as soon as possible after dipping them.  This will help the caramel set and reduce any big pools of caramel at the bottom of the apple.  I actually kept a parchment paper lined baking sheet in the fridge while I was making my apples so it would be nice and cold by the time they were ready.

Other than that, there really isn’t much to it. I don’t bother making my own caramel for these, I think the pre packaged caramels work perfect.

Caramel Apples

As far as sticks go, there are several options.  You can buy wooden craft sticks at any crafts store. Chopsticks also work pretty well if you have those lying around.  But I find that popsicle sticks actually work the best.  The flat surface seems to help keep a secure fit while dipping.

You can stick with just caramel for a classic look, but it’s also fun to dress the apples up with different toppings.  I kept it simple and went with skor bits and chopped peanuts, but the possibilities are pretty endless.  You could add chopped pretzels, m&m’s chocolate chips, drizzled chocolate; you get the point.

Caramel Apple Dip

Ingredients

  • 6 apples (granny smith)
  • 1 package of caramel squares (14 oz) (you might need a little more depending on size of apples so a bit extra couldn’t hurt)
  • 2 tablespoons Cream (milk will work too)
  • splash of vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 popsicle sticks
  • Optional Toppings (skor bits, chopped peanuts)

Method

Melt the caramels along with the cream, vanilla, and salt in the microwave on 50% power (stirring every minute) or over a double boiler.  Remove the stems from the apples and insert the popsicle sticks. If you have a thermometer, you’ll want the caramel to be between 180° and 200°F while dipping.  It’s not too important to worry about though.

One by one dip the apples into the caramel.  I like to leave a bit of green showing but you can go right up to the stick if you prefer. You may need to tilt the bowl/pot and rotate the apple to get full coverage.  lift up the apple and hold it for at least 30 seconds so the excess caramel drips off.  Flip it upside down for another 15-30 seconds while the caramel evenly spreads around the apple and then place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

You’ll find that you may need to hold the apple for a bit longer or in different orientations in order to keep an even layer of caramel all around the apple.  It takes a bit of practice but you’ll get the hang of it after a few tries.

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Creamy Pumpkin Bucatini with Bacon

Creamy Pumpkin Bucatini with Bacon

Pumpkin pasta

If you read my last post on pumpkin cinnamon rolls, you’ll know that I was never much of a pumpkin fan.  I didn’t necessarily not like it, it was just something that I tended to avoid for whatever reason.  After making those rolls and really enjoying them, I had a whole bunch of leftover pumpkin purée that I needed to use up.

I was in the mood for pasta and I knew that pumpkin would make a great base for a sauce.  One of the great things about this recipe, and many other pasta recipes is that it can be made with ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry and fridge.  I used a few fresh ingredients like sage and thyme but if you don’t have those, you could easily skip it or use dried herbs.

Pumpkin pasta

Dried pasta is also something that I always have around. If you aren’t familiar with Bucatini, its kind of like a thick spaghetti.  It’s really good and perfect for hearty sauces like this or something like a bolognese.  If you don’t have it, regular spaghetti is a good substitute.

Also, you can easily make few substitutions to make this pasta vegetarian.  Obviously skip the bacon.  You don’t need to replace it with anything but I think a good textural substitute is sun-dried tomato.  They go crispy but still keep their chew when fried kind of like thick cut bacon.  And you can swap the chicken stock with vegetable stock or even just some extra pasta water.

Pumpkin pasta

Make sure you taste the sauce and season it to your liking as you’re cooking.  I like to add a little bit of salt here and there throughout the cooking process. As the sauce cooks, the flavors change and meld together.

Needless to say, I will definitely be making this pasta again.

Creamy Pumpkin Bucatini with Bacon

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 6-8 sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 cup canned tomato, crushed
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup pasta water
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cream (or half and half)
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 grams Bucatini
  • Micro greens for garnish (optional)

Method

Start by bringing a large pot of heavily salted water to boil.  Don’t be shy with the salt.  Cook pasta about 2 minutes less than package directions so it’s very al dente.  It will continue to cook once it’s in the sauce.  Make sure to save at least 1 cup of the pasta water once the pasta has been cooking for a while.

While the pasta water is heating, get a large pan going on medium heat and fry the bacon until it’s crisp.  Remove bacon to paper towel.  Add the onions along with the sage and cook until the onions are translucent stirring often, about 5-7 minutes.  When the onions are translucent, add in the garlic and thyme and allow them to cook for about a minute more, stirring so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add the pumpkin  to the pan as well as a small pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg and allow it to cook in the oil for a few minutes while stirring.  Add in the tomato and chicken stock and allow it to reduce slightly.  Now it’s time to add the Pasta.  If you were able to time it right, you can transfer the pasta directly from the cooking water into the sauce but if you already strained the pasta that’s fine too. Crumble most the bacon on top and then add the reserved cooking water and cream to the pan along with the parmesan and toss everything together really well.  I like to get in there with a pair of tongs and really mix everything up.  If the sauce is too thick at any point just add a bit more pasta water or stock.

Transfer the pasta to plates or bowls and top with remaining bacon and some more fresh thyme if desired.  I also topped my pasta with some micro greens for a bit of additional color.

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Pumpkin Rolls with Apple-Cinnamon Filling

Pumpkin Cinnamon buns

Pumpkin Rolls with Apple-Cinnamon Filling

Firstly, I want to apologize for not posting any new recipes in a while.  I’ve been super busy but am going to try to continue posting on a more regular basis.

Now that that’s out of the way, lets talk about these cinnamon rolls.  There not you’re average cinnamon rolls.  They have pumpkin in the dough, and apples in the filling.  I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been a fan of pumpkin, but I figured I must be missing something since every recipe this time of the year seems to have pumpkin in it.

That being said, I wanted to try out a pumpkin recipe.  I also wanted to eat cinnamon rolls. So that’s how this happened.   I think this was a good place for me to try it out.  The rolls definitely had a pumpkin flavor, but it was subtle and not overpowering at all.  It also seemed to blend perfectly with the apple cinnamon filling.

These rolls would be perfect on any fall weekend, but I think would be especially good for a thanksgiving brunch.

Pumpkin cinnamon buns

Pumpkin Rolls with Apple-Cinnamon Filling

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2/3 cup pure pumpkin purée (I used canned, but homemade would work great if you have)
  • 1/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • one 8 gram package of active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Oil for coating bowl while rising

Filling

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Frosting

  • 4 oz of softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Splash of Vanilla

Method

To make the dough, start by gently heating milk in a small saucepan (about 110°F) you want it to be warm, not hot. Turn off the heat and add in the yeast giving it a stir to dissolve.  Allow 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate.  The milk should look foamy. If it’s not, the yeast may have gone bad. While the yeast is activating, melt the butter (1/4 cup) and allow it to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and spices.  Give it a quick stir to combine before adding the melted butter, egg, pumpkin and the milk/yeast mixture.  With the dough hook attached, mix on low for about 5 minutes stopping to scrape down the edges if necessary.

Add mixture to a large boil greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow it to rest in warm place until doubled in size, this should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

When the dough is almost ready, prepare the filling. Start by peeking and grating the apples into a paper towel lined bowl.  Give the apples a bit of a squeeze in the paper towel to get rid of excess moisture. Combine the apples with brown sugar and cinnamon and stir to combine.  Melt the butter and set it aside for now.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and dust the top with a sprinkle of more flour.  Roll out the dough into a large rectangle (I try to aim for 16″x12″ but it doesn’t need to be exact).  Brush on the melted butter in order to fully coat the dough and then top with the apple cinnamon mixture trying to spread it as evenly as possible.  From the long end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and slice into individual buns (about 1 1/2″) Don’t worry if you lose a bit of filling, this step tends to be a little bit messy.  I got 12 large buns out of this, cutting into about 1 1/2 inch pieces give or take.  You can go smaller depending on how many rolls you want to get.

In a parchment paper lined baking pan (9″x11″), evenly place the rolls leaving a bit of space between them (don’t worry, they will continue to rise and expand while cooking so that there are no gaps).  Cover the pan with parchment and allow to rise for another 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up.  Keep an eye on them because the time will vary depending on your oven and the size of your rolls.

Prepare the frosting while the buns are baking by beating the cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Once it is fluffy, add in the powdered sugar and continue to beat on low while slowly adding the milk along with a splash of vanilla.  You can adjust the consistency by adding more milk to thin it out or more sugar to thicken it.

When the buns are ready you can choose to glaze them all right in the pan, or serve the icing separately.

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Brown Butter Blueberry Dutch Pancake

Brown Butter Blueberry Dutch Pancake

blueberry dutch pancake

Sure, everybody likes a nice stack of classic pancakes but this dutch pancake takes things to a different level.  It’s become one of my favorite lazy Sunday brunches.  It’s nice because you can easily feed 4 people at once and serve it straight from the pan.

blueberry dutch pancake

I’ve been meaning to try making it with other berries but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  It would be great with raspberries, strawberries or even no berries at all.  I also like to serve it with a big spoonful of greek yogurt with blueberry jam swirled through.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (add more if desired)
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 450°F as well preheating an oven safe pan (10 inch) over medium heat.
  2. Beat eggs very well until frothy.  I like to use my stand mixer for this but you can use any electric mixer or do it by hand if you don’t have one. When eggs are frothy, whisk in the flour, milk, vanilla, cinnamon nutmeg and salt and continue to beat until batter is smooth.  This should take about a minute.
  3. When batter is ready, melt butter in the hot pan until it is lightly browned and then pour in the batter.  Quickly drop in the blueberries and try to spread them evenly.  As soon as the blueberries are in, carefully transfer the skillet into the oven on middle rack.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar if desired
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Bourbon-BBQ Glazed Ribs

Bourbon-BBQ Glazed Ribs

If you read my last recipe on avocado tacos, you know that I’ve been working with Reynolds on their Endless Table Program focusing on summer BBQ. Check out the link to see it on Instagram and also check out their website to see many more amazing summer recipes.

BBQ Bourbon Ribs

In my opinion, there is nothing more BBQ than a big rack of ribs.  Traditionally, BBQ ribs are done low and slow in a smoker.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a smoker, you can get just as good results using your oven and some aluminum foil.  The key is a tight wrap in foil and a low temperature in the oven.  A great BBQ sauce doesn’t hurt either.

BBQ Bourbon ribs

I’ve tried several different ways of making ribs at home and this method is probably my favorite.  It’s also the easiest.  Most of the work happens in the oven giving you plenty of time to prep the BBQ sauce and the rest of dinner.  Speaking of the rest of dinner, I love to serve these ribs with a creamy red cabbage slaw.  They go perfectly together.

Here are a few tips I think are useful for making this recipe.  One of the most important things is to ensure you have a tight seal when wrapping the ribs.  You don’t want any leaks in the oven.  Leaks will not only result in a dryer rib but also will be a nightmare to clean up.  If you’re not sure if the seal is tight, throw an extra layer of foil on the ribs.  Also, be very careful when unwrapping the ribs.  The liquid inside the foil will be super hot.   Finally, when barbecuing the ribs, don’t worry if the bottoms get a little too charred.  You can’t really burn them.

BBQ Ribs

When creating this recipe with Reynolds, it was intended to be an appetizer with the ribs cut individually and served for sharing.  You can definitely serve in bigger portions and use multiple racks though. If you’ve never made ribs before, or are hesitant that you can make delicious ribs without a smoker, trust me and give these a try.  You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make amazing ribs at home.

BBQ ribs

Bourbon-BBQ Glazed Ribs

Ingredients

  • 1 full rack baby-back ribs (outer membrane removed)
  • 4 ounces apple juice

Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1/4 tablespoons ground coriander seed
  • 1/4 tablespoons ground mustard seed
  • 1/8 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Bourbon BBQ sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (use your favorite)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl and mix together well.
  2. Tear a large piece of Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil and place the rack of ribs on it, meat side up. Evenly coat both sides of the ribs with the dry rub, pressing it in with your hands.
  3. Fold up the sides of the foil to create a rim, and pour the apple juice in around the ribs. Fold the foil over the ribs and crimp it to create a tight seal. Tear off one more piece of large foil and wrap the whole thing again to ensure a tight seal.
  4. Place the wrapped ribs in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 225°F and cook ribs for about 4 hours. You should be able to easily pierce them with a fork, but they shouldn’t be falling off the bone.
  6. Combine all the bbq sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken and reduce by about a third, stirring occasionally
  7. Preheat grill to high heat. Place the cooked ribs on the grill, meat side up and brush the top with a layer of sauce. Close grill until the sauce is mostly dried, about 5 minutes. Brush another layer of sauce on top and close grill for an additional 5 minutes. Remove ribs from grill and lightly brush with one more layer of sauce.
  8. Cut the ribs into individual pieces and serve with extra sauce.
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Grilled Avocado Tacos

Grilled Avocado Tacos

Summer time is all about grilling.  It’s also all about tacos.  So when Reynolds asked me to help out and create a recipe for their summer BBQ Endless Table on Instagram, I knew this would be perfect.

I had never grilled Avocados before but after a bit of testing, I found that they tasted pretty good. It was best to grill them halved but with the skin still on so they held together nicely.  Technically you could quarter them before grilling if you wanted to grill multiple sides but I don’t think it’s necessary.

Grilled Avocados

If you’re thinking you won’t enjoy a taco without some sort of meat, think again.  Avocados make a great taco base that’s super satisfying and almost meaty; especially when grilled.  I’ve actually been meaning to try a deep fried avocado taco, which I will definitely check off the list soon.

Grilled Avocados

These tacos are topped with a fresh salsa made from grilled corn and black beans along with a spicy kick from jalapeño and some brightness from cilantro and lime. They’re perfect for a fun summer dinner or backyard BBQ.  They also make a great option if you are vegetarian or cooking for one.  It’s one of those meals that makes everybody happy.

Grilled Avocado Tacos

One of the easiest ways to grill corn, especially for a salsa is to just wrap it in foil and throw it on the grill.  Of course you can grill it without the foil for the added char, but you’ll have to keep an eye on it as it will burn quickly.  The foil method is worry free and always give great results.  Same goes for the tortillas. When I make a big batch of tacos, I always just wrap up a bunch in foil and toss it on the grill.  The foil even doubles as a tortilla warmer while everybody is eating.

Grilled Avocado Tacos

I still have one more recipe on the Endless table that I will be sharing this summer, but in the meantime, check out some other amazing recipes on the Endless Table here.  For this recipe, along with all the other Endless Table recipes, Reynolds sent me some foil to utilize.  I often use foil in my cooking so I am happy to incorporate it into my recipes.  All opinions about it are my own.

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Grilled Avocado Tacos

Ingredients

  •  3 large avocados
  •  2 ears fresh corn, shucked
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat grill to medium high heat
  2. Brush corn with olive oil and individually wrap with Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil. Place on the grill turning frequently for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before handling.
  3. Cut corn off the cob and combine with black beans, jalapeno, cilantro and the juice of 1 lime. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set salsa aside.
  4. Slice avocados in half and remove the seeds but do not remove the skin yet. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lime over the avocados and lightly brush them with olive oil.
  5. Grill flesh side down for 2-3 minutes then remove. Quarter each avocado half and then carefully peel off the skin
  6. Wrap tortillas in foil and place on the grill while the avocados are cooking.
  7. Build tacos by placing avocado slices on tortillas and then top with the corn and black bean salsa.
  8. Serve with your favorite hot sauce and additional lime wedges.
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How to Make Poké Bowls at Home

How to Make Poké Bowls at Home

I first made poké several years ago after hearing about it on some Food Network show (probably diners, drives in, and dives).  I loved raw tuna so I thought I’d give it a shot.  I think I went with a pretty classic sauce which was essentially a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce, and a bit of rice vinegar.

It was good. Not great, but good.  I enjoyed it but I knew it could be way better.  The tuna was good, the rice was good, the toppings were good, but they didn’t all fit together.

After that experience I forgot about poké and didn’t try to make it again.  That was until I visited my sister in Santa Monica.  I know that Poké is a Hawaiian dish but it seems that Los Angeles is some sort of Poké hub.  People literally line the streets just to wait for a bowl.

So since I was there I had to get a taste of the real deal.  It was a game changer.  My original bowl of Poké didn’t even compare.  I realized that I didn’t pre mix the bowl when I made it.  It doesn’t seem like a big deal but the initial incorporation of ingredients is key.  I watched how the pros did it and took my new knowledge back home.

It was like black and white. My trip to Santa Monica definitely increased my Poké skills and I was happy to see that my poké rivalled the most popular spots in LA.

Think of this recipe as a guide more than anything.  You don’t need to use theses specific toppings, they are just an example of a bowl I made.  I recently made poké for a crowd and set up tons of different toppings.  To give you an idea, I used mango, cucumber, avocado, oranges, grapefruit, kale, red onion, carrots, edamame, crispy fried onions, fried wontons, macadamia nuts, pickled ginger, and pickled shiitake mushrooms.

It doesn’t matter if you use tuna or salmon, just make sure you are using fresh fish.  At the end of the day, the fish is the star of the show. If you don’t start with good ingredients, you won’t get a good result.

It’s all about balance.  I recommend a few different vegetables (or fruits), something crispy, and something pickley in each bowl. Also, as a base, always include lots of green onion and sesame seeds.

Sriracha Ponzu Tuna Poké

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Orange Juice
  • 2 tablespoons Carrot Juice
  • 1 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • ½ tablespoons Mirin
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha
  • ¼ tablespoons Brown Sugar

To build your bowls 

  • 1 lb Yellowfin tuna
  • Chili marinated oranges*
  • Steamed edamame
  • Shaved red onion
  • Green onion
  • Sesame seeds

*To make the chili marinated oranges, peel and dice 1 orange and marinate in 2 tsp chili oil.

Method

  1. To make the sauce, Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.  Stir well to combine and keep in fridge until ready to build bowls.
  2. To get the bowls ready, cube all the tuna and keep cold until ready to eat.  For a full portion, add about 4 oz tuna to a bowl along with the rest of your desired toppings and sauce.  stir well and serve over steamed rice.
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Fresh Homemade Tomato Gazpacho

Fresh Homemade Tomato Gazpacho 

Gazpacho has got to be one of the absolute best quick and easy summer recipes.  It is definitely up there as one of my favorite things to eat once the weather warms up.  The key to a good gazpacho is to use fresh ingredients.  Since there is no cooking involved, it’s a great opportunity to let the ingredients shine.

Gazpacho ingredients

The flavors of this particular gazpacho are super bright and refreshing.  Lots of cilantro, fresh lime, red onion, and of course tomato.  I love the freshness of cilantro and lime so I’m pretty generous with it.  Part of why I like this gazpacho so much is because it kind of tastes like a drinkable Pico de Galo, which I have no problem eating by the spoonful anyway.

I need to disclose that KitchenAid was generous enough to provide me with one of their food processors for this recipe but I assure you, all opinions are my own.

Gazpacho

Any food processor or blender would work fine for this recipe, but I do admit, I was pleasantly surprised with the dicing feature on the food processor they sent me.  I was hesitant that it would be able to evenly dice a tomato without turning it into mush but after testing it out, I was a big believer.

Diced Cucumber

I’ve always found dicing large quantities of tomatoes to be a bit of a pain but those days are over.  I see large amounts of Pico in my future.

Diced tomato

You don’t really need to dice anything for this recipe but I like a bit of additional tomato and cucumber for garnish and a bit of added texture.  If you are content without it, feel free to throw all the ingredients in and process away.  It really is that easy.   At the end of the day, it’s just a mixture of blended vegetables, some olive oil, and some tomato juice.

Gazpacho

Feel free to change up the recipe to your liking.  There are so many ways you can easily change it up. You can add more tomato juice to thin it out, take out the jalapeño if you don’t like any heat, or use different varieties of tomatoes.

The flavors of the gazpacho get better and better as it sits in the fridge so I recommend making this the day before you plan to serve it and keep it in the fridge until just before serving.  If you’re tight on time don’t sweat, you can make it day of.  But either way, make sure it is nicely chilled.

As the soup sits in the fridge, it tends to thicken up slightly, so if necessary thin it out with a little bit of tomato juice before serving.  I personally prefer it on the thicker end but that’s totally up to you.

Gazpacho

I usually make gazpacho as a snack or appetizer on a hot day but a larger bowl would definitely make for a satisfying meal.  It goes really well with some grilled shrimp and you can add croutons or serve with bread to make it a bit more filling.

Gazpacho

Tomato Gazpacho 

Makes about 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 English cucumbers cucumbers
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2-3 cups tomato juice
  • Big handful of cilantro
  • 5-6 Basil leaves (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • A few dashes of Tabasco
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Start by dicing 1 tomato along with 1/2 a cucumber.  Reserve this for garnishing the gazpacho at the end
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the rest of the tomatoes and cucumber along with the onion, bell pepper, celery, cilantro, basil, garlic, and garlic.  You will need to roughly cut up the vegetables so they fit into the food processor.  Pulse until uniformly pureed.  Add in the tomato juice, oil, vinegar, lime juice and celery salt.  Pulse again until incorporated and smooth.
  3. Taste the soup and season to preference with salt, pepper, and a Tabasco.
  4. Transfer soup to fridge and chill well before serving.
  5. Garnish each bowl with the reserved cucumber and tomato
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Cookies & Cream Oreo Popsicles

Cookies & Cream Oreo Popsicles

I’m so happy that summer is finally here.  There are so many thinks I look forward to making all year long and popsicles are definitely at the top of my list.  I love to try out different recipes and always seem to have a freezer full of them.  A few of my favorites from last year are my mixed berry Paletas and lemon lime creamsicles.  I even have a print of the berry paletas hanging in the kitchen.

oreo popsicles

While the other popsicles are great, these Oreo ones definitely take the spot of my new favorite.  If you like Oreos, you are going to love these.  I think a big part of these is the coconut milk.  It makes such a great base and keeps the popsicles super creamy.  I find that homemade popsicles sometimes get a little too icy which isn’t so pleasant, especially if you have sensitive teeth.  I’ll definitely be experimenting with more coconut milk popsicles and paletas.

Oreo Popsicles

The blended in Oreos also help with the creaminess and add a “natural” sweetness so no additional sugar is needed.  I like the combination of blended Oreos along with the whole Oreo at the top but if you prefer, you could swap the whole Oreo with roughly crushed ones for a more even distribution.  I do love the way the Oreo looks at the top though; you can see the edges of it and it’s right there when you take your first few bites.

Whenever I make popsicles, I like the soak the sticks in water for a few minutes before putting them in the molds. It helps ensure a solid freeze.  Also, to get the popsicles out, run the molds under room temperature water before pulling them out.

Oreo Popsicles

Give these popsicles a try, you won’t be able to stop at just one.

Ingredients

  • 14 oreos
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add 7 Oreos to your blender along with the coconut milk and vanilla.  Blend until the Oreos are chopped and the evenly combined.  Feel free to add more Oreos at this step if you want but I find that 7 is a good amount.
  2. Place one whole Oreo into each popsicle mold and top with the coconut milk mixture. Be sure to bang the molds on your counter to ensure the liquid fully surrounds the Oreos; it may take several additions of liquid to fill molds.
  3. Place popsicle sticks in molds and freeze overnight.
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Homemade Mac and Cheese Sliders

Mac and Cheese Sliders  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, macaroni and burgers go together like peanut butter and jelly. It’s basically the ultimate cheeseburger.

Mac and Cheese sliders

This macaroni is made with aged cheddar and gruyere, and then the slider is topped with even more cheddar, because you can never have too much cheese. The sliders definitely don’t need the bacon but it does add a nice crunch and a bit of texture. I also used Sriracha mayo for a bit of heat.

Mac and Cheese

The soft and gooey macaroni, the juicy burger, and the crispy bacon all work together to form the perfect bite. I kept it pretty simple but you could also add some other toppings. Jalapeños would work well if you wanted some extra heat.

A big part of what makes these sliders so good is the buns. I went with mini brioche buns. They are so buttery and really take things to the next level. If you can’t find these don’t worry, regular slider buns will still be alright.

The macaroni recipe will make more than you need for the sliders, so feel free to half it if you don’t want a lot of leftovers. I usually like to make a big batch and freeze the extra in individual portions. It actually freezes quite well and is perfect for a quick snack.

Mac and Cheese slider

If you’ve never tried macaroni on a burger, just trust me and give these sliders a try.

Mac and Cheese Sliders  

Ingredient

For the Macaroni

  • 1lb elbow macaroni noodles (1 box)
  • ½ up (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 4½ cups whole milk
  • 6 cups shredded cheese (half cheddar, half gruyere)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the Sliders

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese
  • 8 slider buns
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha

Method

  1. Start by mixing the mayo with the Sriracha in a small bowl. Place in fridge until ready to build sliders.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place bacon on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and cook in oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. To make the macaroni, start by cooking the noodles according to package directions – they typically take 5-7 minutes in boiling water. Set aside when ready. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and then add the flour. Constantly whisk until golden brown. Slowly pour in the milk while constantly whisking. Continue to stir until it comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then stir occasionally until the sauce has thickened. Add the salt, pepper, and mustard powder.
  4. Add in the cheese in 3-4 batches stirring between each batch until the cheese is fully melted. Turn off the heat and add the cooked noodles to the pot, then stir to combine everything. At this point it may be a little wet but the sauce will continue to get thicker as it sits.
  5. Form the beef into 8 equal 2 oz sliders and season both sides well with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt the butter to fry the sliders. Cook for 1½ – 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Cut each slice of cheese into 4 equal squares and place them on the sliders after you flip them. In a separate skillet, melt the other half of the butter and toast the buns for about a minute or until golden brown.
  6. To build the sliders, spread a layer of Sriracha mayo on the bottom bun and then place on the patty. Top with half a slice of bacon and then spoon on the macaroni. Add the top bun and you’re good to go.

 

 

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Buttermilk Bacon Pancakes with Bourbon-Maple Syrup

Buttermilk Bacon Pancakes with Bourbon-Maple Syrup

bacon bourbon pancakes

Nothing says brunch like a giant stack of pancakes. Whether you like to eat them with berries, chocolate or, in this case, bacon, pancakes are an easy way to make breakfast something special.

These buttermilk pancakes are light and airy on the inside with a nice caramelized char on the outside. They’re stacked high with crispy bacon between them and then doused in bourbon-maple syrup. I used to always cook my bacon in a pan, but ever since trying it in the oven, I haven’t gone back. There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, it’s easier and cleaner. Secondly, I think it comes out way better; it gets perfectly crisp and doesn’t curl.

bacon

That perfect bacon is one of the things that make these pancakes so great. The other? Bourbon. These pancakes are basically just an excuse to start drinking before noon. The syrup is made by combining some maple and a little (or a lot) of bourbon. While you’re at it, you might as well throw a little in your coffee too.

bacon pancakes

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp (half a stick) unsalted butter
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Vegetable oil, for skillet
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup bourbon

Method

  1. Start by melting the butter in a microwave safe bowl or in a small pan on the stove. Allow it to cool off a little while you prep the rest of the ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  2. When the butter has slightly cooled mix it in as well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk together just until combined. The batter will be clumpy but that’s what you want. In order to get a light and airy pancake, it’s important not to over-mix the batter. Place the batter in the fridge until ready to cook the pancakes.
  3. To make the syrup, combine the bourbon and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Allow it to simmer until slightly thickened, this will only take a few minutes. Turn off the heat until ready to use.
  4. Get the bacon going before you move on. Lay the bacon on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack or parchment paper and place into oven set to 375°F. Don’t worry about it being preheated first. Allow the bacon to cook 20-25 minutes or until crisp to your liking.
  5. Remove batter from fridge and heat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil and spoon on batter in about 1/3 cup portions. The pancakes only take 1-2 minutes per side. When the tops start bubbling, it’s time to flip. If not eating right away, you can keep them warm in a low oven.
  6. Serve with the bacon and bourbon maple syrup. This would also be a great place to use Candied Bacon Butter.

 

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Sriracha Fried Chicken Tacos

Sriracha Fried Chicken Tacos

Fried chicken probably doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of tacos, but it should, because these tacos are amazing. It all starts with the chicken. This chicken is super crisp on the outside and extremely tender on the inside. It’s marinated in buttermilk and Sriracha overnight to ensure it stays juicy when cooked. Before it gets fried, the chicken gets a coating in flour that’s seasoned with garlic and Korean chilli flakes, for a kick of extra heat.

Sriracha tacos

 

Sounds pretty good so far right?

You could probably stop there and call it a day, but why would you when you can turn it into an amazing taco? To make the taco, the chicken is topped with a bright and citrusy slaw and then garnished with fresh jalapeno and thinly-sliced green onion. The sauce is a spicy crema made with sour cream, Sriracha and soy. All wrapped in a warm corn tortilla. Part of what makes these tacos so amazing is the contrast of textures you get. The chicken is crispy and juicy at the same time. The slaw and jalapenos are refreshing and crisp while the tortilla is soft and warm. It is truly an incredible taco experience.

Sriracha tacos

 

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Korean chilli flakes*
  • Canola oil for frying

For the Toppings

  • ¼ purple cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 jalapeno (thinly sliced)
  • 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • Corn tortillas
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. The night before you plan to make these, slice the chicken into 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick pieces as if you were making chicken tenders. Place them in a bowl or freezer bag and cover with the buttermilk and Sriracha. It helps if you add the Sriracha to the milk first so it distributes evenly. Cover and keep in fridge to marinate overnight.
  2. Thinly shred ¼ of a purple cabbage and dress it with the juice of one lime and sesame oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep in fridge until ready to use.
  3. To make the sauce, combine the sour cream with 1 tbsp of Sriracha (feel free to add more if you want it spicier) and the soy sauce. Stir together and keep in fridge until ready to use.
  4. To get the chicken ready for frying, heat your oil to 350°F. Remove chicken from fridge and set up a medium bowl with the flour, salt, garlic powder, and chilli flakes. Stir the flour mixture together well. Working one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk and place into the flour to fully coat it. Place coated chicken on parchment lined backing sheet until ready to fry.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 200°F. When all the chicken is coated, carefully place into hot oil. Fry for 6-7 minutes or until they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove and allow excess oil to drain on wire rack or paper towel and keep in oven to stay warm until ready to build tacos. Only fry 4-5 pieces at a time so the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much.
  6. Before assembling tacos, quickly warm tortillas in a dry pan over medium heat. To build, spoon a layer of sauce onto the centre of tortilla and then place on a piece of fried chicken. Top with slaw, jalapenos, and green onion. Garnish with cilantro  leaves and drizzle on more Sriracha if desired

*Korean chili flakes are available in most Asian grocery stores. If unavailable feel free to substitute for cayenne pepper.