Happy New Year!

I want to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year! The holiday break has been very nice, but I'm ready to get back to work tomorrow with a brand new video featuring one of my New Year's resolutions. Stay tuned!


New Year's Beans and Greens – Like Winning the Lottery, Except You Eat the Ticket!

Eating beans and greens on New Year’s Day is an annual tradition that supposedly brings prosperity and good fortune. Does it work? Who knows, but what do you have to lose? I mean, even if there is nothing to this ancient superstition, at the very least you get to enjoy one of the world’s great comfort foods. 

Here are some ideas that may, or may not, help get you into a higher tax bracket. Just click the recipe name, and you’ll see the original posts with ingredients. Enjoy!

Italian-Style Beans and Greens

So simple, so good, so comforting, and so a lot of other things. Italian soul food at its best.

Utica Greens and Beans

This delicious good luck charm hails from Utica, NY, and in addition to the obvious ingredients, also features pancetta or prosciutto.

Black Eyed Peas with Pork & Greens

They say the coloration on black eyed peas makes them look like coins, which adds to that whole prosperity in the New Year thing. Sure, if you squint, I guess. Very tasty nonetheless.

Brazilian Feijoada

You'll have to serve this with a side of braised greens if you're serious about getting rich in 2015, but either way, this amazing stew is not to be missed.

Of Lobster Bisques and Christmas Breaks

Lobster bisque is one of our yearly holiday traditions, and since I’m making a batch today, I thought I’d repost the video in case you want to add another very special course to your Christmas or New Year’s Eve menu. Markets often have specials on lobster this time of year, and if you can find a couple, this is a real crowd pleaser.

By the way, we’re closing up shop for the Christmas Holiday, and taking a little break until the New Year. Don’t worry, I promise not to rest too much, as I’ll be busy cooking and filming new episodes. I sure hope they match up with your resolutions! Let me guess, you’d like to see something low-carb and high in fiber? It’s like I’m a mind reader.

Thank you for another great year on the blog, and for your continued enthusiastic and inspiring support. We had a lot of laughs, and I avoided any actual work for another year. That’s a pretty sweet deal. Happy Holidays to you and yours, and as always, enjoy!

Click here to see original the Lobster bisque post!

Edible Holiday Gift Idea: Candied “Buddha’s Hand” Citron

Welcome to our annual homemade edible gift episode, where you finally figure out what to get that “special” (aka super-picky and has everything) foodie on your holiday list. By the way, if you’re a fan of candied citrus, you ‘ll want to make extra, since Buddha’s Hand is a unique and special treat.

To me this crazy looking fruit tastes/smells like a really fragrant Meyer lemon with hints of grapefruit, and if you can find it, I recommend you give it a go. It’s not cheap, but what is? If you can’t find it, don’t despair; this technique works perfectly fine with strips of orange or lemon peel.

Regarding the blanching step I mention in the video; I heard that pre-boiling wasn’t necessary for this fragrant fruit, as it’s not as bitter as other types of citrus, so I tested it both ways, and I’m glad I did.

The batch I boiled in water first had virtually no bitterness left, and still had a fairly strong citrus flavor. The batch that was candied raw definitely had a more fragrant aroma and vibrant taste, but unfortunately there was a distinct bitter aftertaste.

So, I recommend the boiling step, especially if you’re going to be making this primarily as a candy. If you were going to be cooking with it, in things like fruitcakes, then you could probably get away with the bigger flavor, and slight bitter edge.

Either way, I hope you can get your hands on some of these hands, and give this fun, and easy to make holiday confection a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 2 cups of candied citron:
(warning, I didn’t measure very carefully, but that doesn’t matter here. As long as you have enough simple syrup to cook your citrus in, you are fine)
3 cups cubed Buddha’s Hand citron, washed thoroughly, or other citrus peel, sliced into 1/4-inch strips (simmer in plain water for 20-30 minutes before candying step)
2 1/2 cups sugar (plus extra for tossing the candied fruit in)
2 cups water
- cook on medium heat, stirring, until the syrup reaches 230F.

Next Up: Candied Citron


Crispy Honey-Glazed Ham – Looks, Tastes, and Sounds Like the Holidays

A great holiday ham glaze needs to have three things; a wonderful flavor, a gorgeous, shiny appearance, and a crispy, crackling crust you can hear across the room. I’m happy to report this easy to make glaze has all those things in abundance.

This honey glaze will work on any size or style of ham, and as long as you keep the mixture quite thick, and caramelize it properly at the end, you will be the proud owner of a magazine cover-quality ham.

As I mention in the video, this was an uncured, fully-cooked, country-style ham, and if you use something similar, I’m recommending you pull it at 130 F. internal temp. Remember, ham is already cooked, so we just want it hot enough to eat. By the way, if you’re using a ham that’s not cooked already, you’re on your own!

The type of ham I used doesn’t contain a lot of added water like most hams in the supermarket, so it’s even more crucial to use a thermometer to achieve the proper temp. The meat has a denser, drier texture, and while the payoff is a superior ham flavor, it can get dry and salty if overcooked.

If you're using a standard ham, you can use the exact same procedure, but maybe go to 140 F., since you have a lot wetter product to work with. I realize many guides say to go to 160-180 F., but I have no idea why.

No matter what ham you use, you’ll need to give the glaze a final caramelizing before it gets anywhere near kale and tiny apples. They say you can crank the oven up to 500 F., or use the broiler, but nothing does a better job than the old blowtorch. If you don’t have one, they’re only $15 at a hardware store, and are an invaluable tool in the kitchen.

So, if a holiday ham is on your menu, I really hope you toss out that packet of who-knows-what, and give this wonderful, crispy honey ham glaze a try. Enjoy!


Enough glaze for a 7-9 pound ham:
1 packed cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp rice vinegar (or any vinegar), or enough to make a thick paste
pinch of cayenne
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the water in the roasting pan:
2 whole star anise, and a bunch of whole cloves

- Bake ham at 325 F., glazing every 20 minutes until the internal temp is 130 F. for country-style hams, and 140 F. for regular hams.

Truffled Cauliflower Gratin – Now 100% Truffle Oil Free

This cauliflower gratin would typically be “truffled” with truffle oil, but I’ve never been a big fan. Truffle oils are almost always synthetically produced, one-dimensional, and way too overpowering. 

So, in this otherwise humble gratin, we’re going to use another, much more delicious delivery system…truffle pecorino. For less than $10 worth of cheese, I think you can get a much nicer, truer truffle flavor – plus, it’s cheese. By the way, if you know they actually make this cheese with synthetic truffle oil, please keep it to yourself, and don't spoil it for me. 

This stuff is pretty easy to find in fancy grocery stores with decent sized cheese departments, but if you can’t, I’ve seen it online at even better prices.

It’s worth the effort to find, and turns this already great casserole into something truly special, and with side dish season in full swing, I really hope you consider giving this truffled cauliflower gratin a try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6-8 Portions
6 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 tsp salt or to taste
pinch of cayenne
pinch of nutmeg
5 to 6 oz wedge of truffle pecorino, grated
1 large head of cauliflower
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano as needed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
a few fresh chives to garnish

Culinary School in a Box, and Too-Good-to-Eat Christmas Cookies

My friends at Allrecipes.com have put together a series of online cooking classes, which could make a great gift for the foodies on your list. Whether they admit it or not, we all know your friends and family are envious of your culinary abilities, and secretly wish you’d teach them some of your skills.

Since that’s not going to happen anytime soon (hey, you’re busy, and they can’t afford your rates anyway), why not do the next best thing, and make them learn themselves? With any luck, they’ll practice their “homework” on you. Plus, think of all the time you’ll save wrapping a present.

In case you’re wondering, while I completely stand behind this offering, I'm not personally involved in the course instruction, nor do I directly profit from subscriptions to the school. For more info, head over to cookingschool.allrecipes.com. Enjoy!

Christmas Cookie Decorating Ideas


I’m not much of a cookie guy, and even less of a decorating cookie guy; so, since I’m no help, I thought I’d pass along this great post by Karen Gaudette, called 21 Fun And Creative Cookie Decorating Ideas. Because Christmas.

Ironically, the ultimate goal with this kind of thing is to make a cookie so amazing, so intricate, and so visually arresting, that no one would dare bite into it. “How were the cookies? No idea, they were too nice to eat.” Just imagine. Enjoy!

The Cornish Pasty – Going to Fall Down a Mineshaft? This is the Meat Pie For You!

This Cornish pasty is one of those rare recipes that novice cooks will find easier to make than experienced bakers. That’s because to make this to its original, and very sturdy specifications, you’re forced to over-mix the dough…a cardinal sin that literally gives pie makers nightmares.

Like any pastry dough, we’re just adding just enough ice water to bring everything together, but unlike classic pie dough, we’re going to knead the mixture for a couple minutes past that point.  Thanks to a little thing called muscle memory, this is not going to be easy for some of you.

Get over it; because once you taste and feel the final product, it will all make sense. The tougher, but not tough dough is the perfect delivery system for the meaty filling. Speaking of which, I went with a fairly traditional version, and provided the recipe below, but this great crust will work with all sorts of stuffings.

You could use cooked meat in these, but part of what makes them so good, is how the raw ingredients cook in their own juices, while encased in the tasty dough. I can’t imagine many things that wouldn’t be great in these.

By the way, this recipe is dedicated to my mother-in-law Peggy, who requested it about five years ago. It was one of her favorite foods growing up, and I’m curious to hear how close I got. I hope you give this easy, and delicious meat pie a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 Cornish pasty

4 cups bread flour (mine weighed in at 1-lb 2-oz)
2 oz (4 tbsp) cold butter
3 oz (6 tbsp) cold lard
1 1/2 tsp salt
about 2/3 to 3/4 cup ice water, or enough to just bring dough together (start with about 1/2 cup, and then drizzle in more as needed)

For the steak filling:
12oz cubed beef skirt steak
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup diced gold potatoes
1/3 cup diced turnip
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 tbsp butter, cut into 8 thin slices

For the egg wash:
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tsp water

- Bake pasties at 350 F. for about an hour or until browned and bubbly

Pine Cone Cheese Ball – So Good, You’ll Want to Hug a Tree

Any cheese ball is a welcome addition to a holiday party spread, but when you bring one that looks like a pine cone, you’re talking about a real showstopper. 

The only danger, as I joked about in the intro, would be hurting the feelings of other guests who also decided to bring a cheese ball, sans camouflage. Hey, they’ll just have to raise their game next year.

Obviously, this seasonally appropriate appetizer can be made using any cheese spread, or cheese ball recipe, but if you’re going to use this one, which comes highly recommended, we should talk about the garlic. I love raw garlic, and since I felt a little cold coming on, I decided to be generous with the amount.

For normal people, two cloves might be a little strong here, so fair warning. If you’re a fan of roasted garlic, that would be beautiful in this as well. Also, if you’re a fan of our beer cheese recipe, there’s no way that wouldn’t be perfect too. I really hope you give this easy, delicious, and gorgeous-to-look-at pine cone cheese ball a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one giant or two normal size pine cone cheese balls:
2 package (8 ounce ea.) cream cheese
4 ounce goat cheese
Salt, pepper and cayenne taste
1/2 to 2 cloves minced garlic, depending on how strong you want it, or roasted garlic cloves to taste
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves
whole almonds as needed

Ricotta Pie – Call It “Cheesecake” At Your Own Risk

You would certainly be well within your rights to call this ricotta pie a “cheesecake,’ except then your guests would be expecting cheesecake, and that might cause some problems. 

If you tell me I’m about to get a slice of cheesecake, I’m picturing something tall, dense, sweet, and very rich. Those adjectives are why people order cheesecake in the first place.

That’s why this lighter, less sweet variation is being called a ricotta pie. So much of cooking for people is managing expectations, and a recipe’s name is a big part in that. Moving past semantics, I really enjoyed this cannoli-inspired take on the rustic Italian classic.

I played around with a hybrid pie-dough/cookie crust, with flavors borrowed from a cannoli shell, as well as studded the filling with chocolate and candied orange; also common features of that other ricotta-based dessert. If you don’t want to mess around with my crust, or you’re still trying to do the paleo thing, you can skip that step, and just butter and flour the pan first. Your favorite graham cracker crust will work as well, especially with some ground almonds tossed in.

Regarding the sweetness: Generally, ricotta pies are not very sweet, and contain only about half the sugar of a traditional cheesecake. For this size pie (9-inch), you could use between a 1/4 and 1/2-cup of sugar, depending on your tastes. I used a 1/3-cup, which is perfect for me, but I’m not you, so adjust accordingly. Same goes for the grated citrus, and chocolate. I really hope you give this great ricotta pie a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in chunks
1 large egg
2 tbsp marsala wine
2-3 tablespoons ice water, or enough to form dough
Prebake crust for 15 min at 400 F.

For the filling
3 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste
1 or 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon and/or orange zest
pinch of salt (not shown!)
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional
2 tbsp diced candied orange zest, optional

Bake 45 minutes at 350 F., or until just set (160 internal temp)

*I garnished with chopped pistachios, and some  additional orange zest that I tossed with some simple syrup (1/4 cup water and a 1/4 cup sugar brought to a simmer and allowed to cool.)

Fesenjan (Duck Stewed with Pomegranate and Walnuts) – Better Later Than Never!

Sorry for the delay, but if there's anything that deserves the “better late than never” tag, this duck fesenjan is it. A savory stew featuring duck, pomegranate, and walnuts, which is every bit as exotic as it sounds.

Keep in mind, I’m brand-new to Persian food, so this is just my interpretation of the ancient classic. I’m assuming like most similar recipes, every household has their own version, and this kind of thing can be obviously, and easily be tailored to your tastes.

The ingredients are simple and easy to manipulate. If you have trouble finding pomegranate syrup, or pomegranate molasses as it’s sometimes called, check out the online retailers, but you can actually make your own.

If you want to try, check out this recipe from my friend Elise, from Simply Recipes. It takes an hour or so, but its usefulness goes far beyond this duck recipe. By the way, if you're not down with Simply Recipes, you really should be. Elise has an amazing collection of recipes. 

Regarding the duck, I like to sear the meat in a pan, since you'll get faster and deeper browning. The high sides of a Dutch oven can sometimes hold in moisture and you won’t get the same results. As long as you deglaze the pan, nothing is lost.

Other than that, it’s a very straightforward recipe. Just stew everything until the meat is tender, but not totally falling apart; then reduce the sauce until as thick and intensely flavored as you want. I really hope you give this Persian duck stew a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 to 10 Duck Legs or chicken leg quarters, seared in vegetable oil until browned
1 tbsp reserved duck fat
3-4 tbsp olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onion
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
6 cups chicken broth, or more as need to adjust liquid levels
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup pomegranate syrup aka molasses
3 cups walnut halves, ground
salt and pepper to taste

Next Up: Fesenjān

Sorry, but due to a large pot hole and a really small tire, today's Fesenjān video will not air until tomorrow. I think it will be worth the wait. Speaking of waiting, time to call roadside assistance. Stay tuned!


Persian Rice – Sorry, Measuring Cups

I believe I’ve posted a few “fool proof” methods for cooking “perfect” rice, but this Persian version takes the grand prize, and it’s not even close for second. The beauty of this method is that it doesn’t rely on any specific measurements, or even exact times. This will make some of you very nervous, but just go with it.

As long as the pot you use to boil and steam the grains is large enough, this will work exactly as shown. Since we are basically steaming rice that’s already been par-boiled and drained, there are never any issues with too much, or too little water.

By the way, I’ve only made this a handful of times, and so I’m sure there are many things I could improve on. I hear that soaking the rice in cold, salted water before boiling it helps improve the texture even more, which I find kind of hard to believe.

I mean, is there a level of rice perfection that goes beyond perfection? Probably too deep a question for a food blog about rice, so I’ll simply close by saying, I hope you give this Persian rice a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 Portions:
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed very well
3 quarts water, brought to a boil with 3 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 russets potato, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch slices
salt to taste
pinch of ground cumin
5 or 6 slices of butter for top
pinch of saffron, ground and mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water
parsley to garnish 

Why Store-Bought Whipped Toppings Are Not Cool

Okay, so I may have embellished the grocery checkout line story in the intro, but all the important parts are true. You can quickly and easily make your own whipped topping that’s not only less expensive, but vastly superior in quality. By the way, you may know this stuff by its more common name, whipped cream.

I’d like to apologize in advance to all the people who will lose their jobs when whipped topping factories start closing down after this video goes viral. Hey, you had a good run. But really, who in their right mind would buy that stuff again, after seeing what’s in there, as well as how incredibly simple it is to make yourself?

Just be sure to buy, “Heavy Whipping Cream,” also sold as “Heavy Cream.” This should have a fat content of around 34-36%, and as long as it’s nice and cold, will make perfect whipped cream, every time. As I explain in the video, these are not egg whites, and require no special finesse. Regular whipping cream will work, but it doesn’t have the same rich, decadent feel.

I’d like to think the only reason people buy "tub topping," is because that’s what they (and their parents) have always done, and simply don’t know there’s such an easy alternative. Well, now you know, and with plenty of holiday desserts still to top, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 large dollops:
1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp white sugar, or to taste
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Leftover Turkey's Last Stand

You had some on Friday, and maybe Saturday; but by today, leftover turkey is the last thing you're craving. Well, we may have just the thing(s). The following recipes are perfect for using up the last of that holiday bird, while at no time reminding anybody of that holiday bird. If you're interested in seeing the full post, just click on the recipe title, and away you go. Enjoy!

Turkey Manicotti

The moist filling will bring the driest turkey back from the dead, and you can literally add anything that can be chopped up. Leftover green beans? Throw it in. Peas and Onions? You bet’cha. Cranberry Sauce? Don’t be ridiculous.

Turkey Matzo Ball Soup

If chicken soup is called, "Jewish penicillin," then we're going to have to refer to this as "American amoxicillin." Really doesn't have the same ring to it. Regardless, this is a great soup.

Turkey Noodle Casserole

Come for the great way to use up leftover turkey, stay for the crispy potato chip topping.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! We’re taking a couple days off, but I’ll be back with a new video before you can say, “Man, I can’t believe I ate that much turkey.” Enjoy your holiday!

.

Thanksgiving Leftover Special: Tom Turkey Kha Gai

One of the great blessings, and curses, of Thanksgiving is leftover turkey. The next day it’s great reheated, or made into sandwiches, but by Day 3 you want something that tastes like not turkey. That’s where this spicy Thai coconut soup recipe comes in.

This is my take on Tom Kha Gai, and as usual I make no claim as to its authenticity. I do know it tastes amazing to me, and will make you forget you even roasted a turkey. There’s lots of everything going on here, so be prepared to adjust radically to your tastes. It should be fairly spicy, sweet, sour, and salty, all at the same time. 

If you can, see if you find galangal, or galanga root, as it's sometimes called. It looks like a thin-skinned ginger, with a sort of similar flavor, although people that make this soup for a living will say it's much different and far superior. I decided to use ginger, since that's what the majority of my audience will use, but I thought it was worth mentioning, in case you live in an area where this rhizome is available.      

As far as the chili oil goes, all I did was mash together a couple tablespoons of sambal with twice as much vegetable oil with a mortar and pestle. Once it settles, the gorgeous, red oil rises to the top, and you’re ready to drip. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving, and that some of your leftover turkey finds its way into this delicious soup. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 serving:
 6 cups turkey or chicken broth
3” piece ginger, sliced thin
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, bruised and sliced
kefir lime or lemon leaves, sliced
2 tbsp cilantro stems
1/2 tsp chili flakes, or to taste
Simmer for 15 minutes

Add:
1 pound cubed turkey or chicken
1 cup little mushrooms
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 (13-oz) can coconut milk
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup green onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
Chili oil, cilantro leaves, and lime wedges to garnish

Cranberry Sauce Like a Boss

Just in case you’re still deciding on which of the roughly one million different cranberry sauces you’ll be going with this Thanksgiving, here are a few ideas. Technically, the Cumberland isn’t a cranberry sauce, but it’s close enough, and serves the same delicious purpose. If you're tempted, just click on the bold titles, and away you go. I hope you give one of these great sauce a try, and as always, enjoy!


Tangerine Cherry Cranberry Sauce


Could you just use orange, and call it "tangerine?" Sure, why not, it's only your family you'd be misleading.

Ginger Pear Cranberry Sauce


This one just sounds like it will be great with roast turkey. In fact, when you tell people what it is, they'll say, "Oh, that sounds great." Try it, and see.

Cumberland Sauce


Do you think they just name any old sauce after the Duke of Cumberland? Well, they don't 

Maple Walnut Cranberry Sauce


As you'll read, there was a time when I didn't think putting nuts in a cranberry sauce was a good idea. I've evolved on the issue.

Whole Boneless Thanksgiving Turkey – As Close to Turducken as I’ll Ever Get

If you’re a turkey, and you’re getting boned-out, there’s a good chance you’re about to become Turducken, which in this chef’s opinion, is one of the most overrated recipes of all time. When was the last time you sat down in a restaurant and thought, “I hope the chef’s doing a turkey, duck, chicken trio.”

However, the idea of removing those pesky bones before your bird makes its grand entrance may be worth considering. Not only do you get an impressive looking roast to wow the table, but carving is significantly easier. I didn't have time to show here, but of course you are making a killer turkey stock with all those bones, so that's another advantage. Also, if you're worried about losing flavor, don't. This tastes virtually identical. 

If you’ve ever found yourself hacking up a perfectly good turkey in front of the family, while flop-sweat drips onto the mangled meat, then this approach may be for you. Sure, it takes a good hour to prep, but that’s pretty much where the hard work ends.  

These types of videos are near impossible to edit into any reasonable length, but the good news is this is a lot easier to do than I make it look. Just go slow, and keep that knife against the bone, and you’ll be fine. By the way, chickens make an affordable and delicious thing to practice on.

I’ve included my “prop” stuffing below, which was great. It’s more the style you’d see in a stuffed pork chop, but as I said in the video, your favorite stuffing will work beautifully.

I’ve also posted a bonus video below that goes into more detail on the tying technique. So, if you’re looking for a new and exciting challenge for Thanksgiving, I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!


Notes:
  • My turkey was about 15 pounds, but this will work on any sized bird.
  • I wanted to try salt only on the outside, without butter or oil, like in our salt chicken recipe, just to see what would happen, but nothing did. So, feel free to slather on the butter.
  • You’ll need about 3-4 cups of prepared stuffing depending on the turkey.
  • My pan sauce was nothing more than the drippings with a big splash of cream, reduced until slightly thickened, and strained.  
Procedure:
Start in a 450 F.  oven for 15 minutes
Reduce to 325 F. until you get an internal temperature of 150 F. (mine took about 1 1/2 hours more)

For the stuffing I used:
1 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup finely minced onions, sautéed golden
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup turkey or chicken broth, or enough to moisten
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary leaves


Bonus Knot Tying Video

Singapore Chili Crabs – King of the Crab Recipes?

Living in San Francisco, I’ve had more than my fair share of crab; prepared in more ways than I can remember, but I’ve never enjoyed it more than in this Singapore-style chili crabs recipe. Just be sure to have lots of napkins around. Lots of napkins.

Apparently, this is the national dish of Singapore, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone eating a plate of it. By the way, that’s not something you’d want to try. Just ask Michael P. Fay.

As far as I can tell, there’s no one standard way to make this. Besides the crab, and some kind of tomato product, I couldn’t find two recipes alike. What you see here is my take on this, but it does contain many of the most typical ingredients.

Most are easy to find, except maybe the tamarind paste, although any high-end grocery chain should stock some in their international foods section. If you can’t find it, maybe add a little extra pinch of sugar, plus the juice and zest of one lemon.

Obviously the most important ingredient is the crab, so find something really nice. The store up the street had a special on freshly steamed, Dungeness crab, so that’s what I used here, but any similar variety will work. 

If you can somehow get live crabs, that’s the ultimate choice, but I know that’s not realistic for most of you. The good news is, this is incredibly delicious either way. I really hope you give this Singapore-style chili crabs recipe a try soon. Enjoy!



Please Note: My friends in Singapore tell me they serve this with at least twice the amount of sauce, and a type of fried roll to soak up the goodness with. So, if you want to rock the chili crab like a Singaporean, then you should probably double the sauce ingredients!

Ingredients for four appetizer size portions:
2 whole cooked Dungeness crabs (about 2-3 lbs. each), cleaned and cracked
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced shallots, or other onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tbsp minced serrano pepper

For the sauce:
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoon sambal (or any spicy ground chili sauce)
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup chicken broth or water

Finish with:
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp sliced green onions (the green parts) or 1 tbsp sliced chives

Homemade Flatbread – If You Have Flour, You Have Bread

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, possibly in our last post, today is National Homemade Bread Day. So, I decided to do a flatbread video, demonstrating what was probably the world’s first wheat-based bread.

It never ceases to amaze me how a little flour and water can be transformed into such delicious, gorgeous bread, and in just a matter of minutes at that. Inspired by the thought of these earliest flatbreads, I went with about half wheat flour and half all-purpose, as well as a little spoon of corn meal for some extra texture. 

I’ll be giving no ingredient amounts below. Flatbread’s not like that. Combine water, flour and a pinch or two of salt; and mix together as shown until you have a soft, sticky dough. That’s it. The other key is to use a very hot cast iron pan or griddle. You can wipe the surface with a tiny bit of vegetable oil, but basically a dry pan works the best.

If you’re not in a hurry, wrap your dough and let it sit on the counter top for an hour or two. This will give the flour time to hydrate, which will provide a little nicer texture. Having said that, I didn’t wait at all, and mine came out fine.

So, if you’re interested in making flatbread like they did when people thought the earth was flat, then I hope you  get this easy and delicious technique a try soon. Enjoy!