Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • juice of 6 lemons
  • 4 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • fresh orange or lemon slices and sprigs of mint for garnish
Preparation:

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Place mint leaves in a small bowl; add sugar syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, and grated orange peel. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.

Strain into a 1-quart container. Cover and keep refrigerated.

To serve, mix 1 part lemon mint mixture with 2 parts water. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon or orange slices and sprigs of mint if desired.


Makes about 1 quart syrup, or 3 quarts of lemonade.

Feel free to add your favorite chilled vodka and/or rum to inebriate.
 
 
Ingredients
  • Waffle Maker
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup soda water
  • Non-stick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 cup thinly-cut strips of ham
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
  • Maple syrup
Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 300°. Heat waffle iron until very hot. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a medium bowl until medium-soft peaks form. Whisk egg yolks, melted butter, buttermilk, and soda water in a medium bowl; gradually whisk into dry ingredients. Fold in egg whites.
  • Coat waffle iron with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Pour batter onto iron, spreading it into corners (amount of batter needed will vary according to machine). Scatter 1 rounded Tbsp. ham and 1 Tbsp. white cheddar over each waffle. Cook until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a baking sheet; keep waffles warm in oven between batches. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.
 
 
Funny enough, i see it in a lot of drink recipes...even i have included it in the negroni recipe on this page. Yet most people do not know exactly how to "express an orange peel" and after searching for it online, it's not really explained too much online.
 
Expressing an orange peel means to bring the oils on an orange peel to the surface of the orange skin. This can be done simply by removing the skin of an orange with a paring knife or a vegetable peeler...then twist/flex the skin of the orange to bring out the oils.
Be sure not to take too much of the white parts under the peel. That brings a lot of bitterness to the cocktail if you drop the expressed peel into your drink.
Simply fold the peel along the curvature of the stripe and pinch or gently twist to release the oils. The oils will spray along the fold, so aim it over your drink.
Another popular method is called flaming an orange peel. This is done by bringing the oils of the orange skin to the surface by gently warming it with a lighter.
_Wave a lighter or match flame under the orange peel to bring the oil to the surface. There should be visible oil. When you are ready, squeeze the peel (in the same fashion as the expressing an orange peel) at the flame and it should ignite. Not only does it look cool, it does bring a bit of extra flavor into your drink. Just remember to aim the flame at your glass and you are good to go. 
 
 
When i was in Mexico, we came across something that changed my bbq life. While out and about, we came across several food carts that sold corn. Although the corn they used looked coarse and overcooked, i decided to try one of these grilled corn on the cob with brightly ornate sprinkles of chili powder and cheese. They were, for lack of a better word, f@cking amazing.

You do not need to travel all the way to get Elote (Spanish for corn or to grilled corn). In fact, you can make a better version at home with sweet corn from your local farmer's market.

Here's the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 4 ears sweet corn
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper of chile powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 2/3 cup crumbled cotija anejo cheese
  • lime wedges
  • extra cayenne pepper of chile powder, for sprinkling
  • fresh finely chopped cilantro for optional garnish
Preparation:
  1. Soak corn (in husks) in cold water for 25-30 minutes.
  2. Prepare a medium-hot grill. Peel back the corn husks leaving them attached at the end. Remove the silk. Pull the husks back up and tie with a spare piece of husk or a small piece of cooking twine. Place the ears on the grill. Cook 20-25 minutes, turning several times to ensure even roasting. The kernels should be soft when fully cooked.
  3. If you’d like the kernels more charred, then simply follow the above instructions, but cook in husks for 15 minutes only. Then cool ears slightly, pull back the husks (to use as handles) and place the ears directly on the grill (with husks overhanging the side) for 5-7 minutes, or until they reach desired level of charring.
  4. Place crumbled cheese on a plate large enough to fit an ear of corn. In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, lime juice, cayenne pepper or chile powder, and salt. When the corn is cooked, brush each ear with some mayo sauce then roll in the cheese. Serve with lime wedges, additional cayenne pepper or chile powder, and fresh finely chopped cilantro.

** Cotija anejo, a mild-flavored Mexican cheese with a crumbly texture, can be found in Mexican markets or in the refrigerator section of most major supermarkets. Queso fresco, another mild Mexican cheese, is a good substitute and also can be found in most major supermarkets.

Note: If you are unable to grill outdoors, then you can oven roast the corn. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place corn in husks (no need to soak first) directly on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until corn is soft to the touch. Allow to cool slightly, then remove husks and silks, and add toppings.
_** Cotija anejo, a mild-flavored Mexican cheese with a crumbly texture, can be found in Mexican markets or in the refrigerator section of most major supermarkets. Queso fresco, another mild Mexican cheese, is a good substitute and also can be found in most major supermarkets.

Note: If you are unable to grill outdoors, then you can oven roast the corn. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place corn in husks (no need to soak first) directly on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until corn is soft to the touch. Allow to cool slightly, then remove husks and silks, and add toppings.
 
 
New segment basically of questions i am not asked enough of. i am constantly amazed at the general infatuation with bacon yet there is an utter lack of care that goes into cooking it. Someone once told me they fry their bacon...with pride. FUQ that.

Here are my approved methods for cooking bacon.

1. In a Skillet - If you can, use a cast-iron skillet, but really any skillet will do. You also need a set of tongs/chopsticks to help grasp the hot slices and flip them. Set the skillet over medium or medium-low heat - bacon cooks best when you go low and slow. Don't crowd the slices, don't oil the pan and DO NOT pour off the bacon grease during cooking. When small white foamy bubbles foam around the slices and pool on top, that side is basically done.

Lay the cooked pieces on a paper towel to drain while you cook the rest of the package. You should pour off the bacon fat between batches...pour off, not throw away.
_2. In the Oven - Definitely my favorite option for when you're cooking a lot of bacon at once, It's also nice when you need the stove top for cooking other things. Preheat the oven to 350° and lay the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Remember: do not over crowd the slices. Bake for 20-25 minutes (depending on your oven) and then lay the bacon on paper towels to drain and firm up. Bacon pros familiar with bacon lattice or adding brown sugar for candied bacon should always do so when entertaining.

3. In the Microwave - HA! Just kidding. Only an asshole would do this.

4. In the Deep Fryer - Kill yourself.
_Tip #1: i NEVER EVER throw out bacon grease. They are great for a variety of things...such as cooking eggs in, cooking pancakes in, adding smokey flavor to greens or beans, or making bacon bourbon. YAY! Check this out...

Tip #2: Bacon always comes off the heat less crispy than they appear. Once they have been sitting out and the grease has been wicked away...they will get more crispy.

Tip #3: If you thought candied bacon was advanced...sprinkling grated garlic on top of bacon takes it to the next level. Candied Garlic Bacon = Rowdy.

Now that that is off my chest...time for a scotch. Enjoy!
 
 
_Dosa (crispy savory pancakes/crepe) from South India is a staple food in its region. In the rest of the country too, Dosas are extremely popular and Udipi restaurants serving them and other South Indian foods can be found in almost every suburb. This easy recipe will make approximately 20 Dosas.
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups rice (soaked overnight)
  • 1 cup skinless split urad daal (skinless black gram - soaked overnight)
  • 3/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (soaked for 15-20 minutes)
  • Salt to taste
  • Vegetable/ canola/ sunflower cooking oil
  • Handful of finely chopped onion
  • Handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 3-4 finely chopped chilies (of your choice)
  • Handful of finely grated cheese (of your choice)
__Preparation:
  1. Wash the rice properly by changing the water few times until the water is clear. Soak these washed rice in enough water overnight.
  2. Grind the separately soaked fenugreek seeds, rice and urad daal in grinder and make a fine smooth paste. add salt to this paste, cover with a lid and keep aside overnight at room temp.
  3.  Lightly grease a griddle and put on medium heat. Pour the prepared paste on griddle and spread it in a circular motion immediately with the backside of ladle and by swirling the pan around.
  4. Sprinkle the oil on sides of dosa and then cover it with a lid for a minute.
  5. after a minute, add few of green chilies, a tbsp of grated cheese, chopped coriander and onion and over the dosa and leave it for few seconds.
  6. When the dosa is ready, fold over the Dosa and take it out of the heat. Your south Indian cheese dosa is now ready, serve hot.
  7. For a non-cheese version, first and last picture, just omit step 5 and continue onto step 6.
 
 
_A Croque Madame is a grilled cheese and smoked ham sandwich topped with a sunny side up egg. i use Black Forest ham, Gruyère cheese, and thick ass white bread because i do what i want.
_Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 1/2 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (1 1/3 cups)
  • 8 slices firm white sandwich bread
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked ham (preferably Black Forest)
  • 4 large eggs
Direcrions:
Make sauce:
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, then whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/3 cup cheese until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and cover surface directly with a sheet of wax paper.

Make sandwiches:
Spread 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce evenly over each of 4 slices of bread, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese (1/4 cup per slice). Spread mustard evenly on remaining 4 bread slices and top with ham, dividing it evenly, then invert onto cheese-topped bread to form sandwiches.


Lightly oil a 15- by 10-inch shallow baking pan.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately low heat, then cook sandwiches, turning over once, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes total. Remove from heat and transfer sandwiches to baking pan, then wipe out skillet with paper towels.

Preheat broiler.

Top each sandwich with 1/3 cup sauce, spreading evenly. Broil sandwiches 4 to 5 inches from heat until sauce is bubbling and golden in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off broiler and transfer pan to lower third of oven to keep sandwiches warm.

Heat remaining tablespoon butter in nonstick skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then crack eggs into skillet and season with salt and pepper. Fry eggs, covered, until whites are just set and yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Top each sandwich with a fried egg and serve immediately.

Side Note: The egg yolks in this recipe should not be fully cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area...or you do not care if your food tastes good. You can use pasteurized eggs (in the shell) or cook eggs until yolks are set.

 
 
_"Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some, so bring some out here"

Amy sent me an interesting article regarding Figgy Pudding the other day from NPR. Turns out, figgy pudding isn't really much of a pudding at all. It's basically a steamed fruit cake full of dried fruits and nuts softened in brandy. The name is extra misleading since figgy pudding may or may NOT even contain figs and was often times traditionally made with carrots instead. (Those crazy 15th century English prankers!)

_ Dorie Greenspan, author of Baking: From My Home to Yours, created this recipe for figgy Christmas pudding for All Things Considered.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

·         12 plump dried Calymyrna figs, snipped into small pieces

·         1/2 cup water

·         1/2 cup dark rum

·         1/3 cup cognac or brandy

·         1/2 cup raisins

·         1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

·         2 teaspoons baking powder

·         1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

·         1 teaspoon ginger

·         1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

·         1/4 teaspoon cloves

·         1/4 teaspoon salt

·         3 large eggs

·         1 (packed) cup brown sugar

·         2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (made from about 8 inches of baguette)

·         1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

·         1 cup dried cherries

·         1 cup dried cranberries

·         1/3 cup brandy, cognac or rum, to flame the pudding (optional)

·         Softly whipped, lightly sweetened heavy cream, vanilla ice cream or applesauce, homemade or store-bought, for serving (optional)
_ Preparations:

1.      Getting ready: You'll need a tube pan with a capacity of 8 to 10 cups — a Bundt or Kugelhopf pan is perfect here — and a stock pot that can hold the pan. (If you've got a lobster pot, use that; it'll be nice and roomy.) Put a double thickness of paper toweling in the bottom of the pot — it will keep the pudding from jiggling too much while it's steaming. Spray the tube pan with cooking spray, then butter it generously, making sure to give the center tube a good coating.

2.      Put the figs and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and, keeping an eye on the pan, cook until the water is almost evaporated. Add the cognac or brandy, rum and raisins and bring the liquids back to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, make sure it's in an open space, have a pot cover at hand and, standing back, set the liquid aflame. Let the flames burn for 2 minutes, then extinguish them by sealing the pan with the pot cover. For a milder taste, burn the rum and brandy until the flames die out on their own. Set the pan aside uncovered.

3.      Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and keep at hand.

4.      Working in a mixing bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs and brown sugar together until well blended. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the bread crumbs, followed by the melted butter and the fig mixture (liquids included). Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and gently mix them in — you'll have a thick batter. Fold in the cherries and cranberries.

5.      Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and seal the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Set the pan into the stock pot and fill the pot with enough hot water to come one-half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the baking pan. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot tightly with foil and the lid.

6.      Lower the heat so that the water simmers gently, and steam the pudding for 2 hours. (Check to make sure that the water level isn't getting too low; fill with more water, if necessary.) Carefully remove the foil sealing the pot — open the foil away from you to protect your arms and face — and then take off the foil covering the pan. To test that the pudding is done, stick a skewer or thin knife into the center of the pudding — the skewer or knife should come out dry.

7.      To remove the pudding from the pan (a tricky operation), I find it easiest to carefully empty the water into the sink, and then carefully ease the baking pan out on its side. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the pudding cool for 5 minutes. Detach the pudding from the sides of the pan using a kitchen knife, if necessary, then gently invert it onto the rack. Allow the pudding to cool for 30 minutes.

8.      If you'd like to flame the pudding — nothing's more dramatic — warm 1/3 cup of brandy, cognac or rum in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour the warm liquid over the top of the pudding, and then, taking every precaution that Smokey Bear would, set a match to the alcohol. When the flames die out, cut the pudding into generous pieces. Actually, there's so much fruit in the pudding, the only way to cut neat slices is to make the slices generous.

9.      Serve the pudding with whipped cream, ice cream or applesauce.

10.  Alternatively, you can cool the pudding completely, wrap it very well in several layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to two weeks. When you are ready to serve, butter the pan the pudding was cooked in, slip the pudding back into the pan, seal the pan with foil, and re-steam for 45 minutes.
So now you all have a better understanding of what figgy pudding is, feel free to sing out at the top of your lungs the next time "We Wish You a Merry Chistmas" comes on.
 
 
In case you do not know what currywurst is...kill yourself. But here's a quick lesson:

Currywurst is a german food truck dish that consists of a grilled pork sausage served with fries and topped with ketchup and curry powder. This stuff is crack. When i was in Germany, i ate it like it was going out of style. Many think that bratwurst is used, but that is incorrect. Honestly, it is more like knockwurst than anything else...which means I do not know what kind of wurst they use in a currywurst stand. (If you know, please tell me!)

The best Schnell-Imbisse (fast-food stands) make their own currywurst sauce, essentially a curry powder–flavored ketchup.  Here's a recipe i found on Saveur.com.
  • Heat 2 tbsp. canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add 1 finely chopped large yellow onion; cook until soft, 8–10 minutes.
  • Add 2 tbsp. curry powder and 1 tbsp. hot paprika; cook for 1 minute more.
  • Using hands, crush 2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes (with juice) into pan.
  • Add 1⁄2 cup sugar, 1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar, and salt to taste; stir well.
  • Increase heat to high; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 25 minutes.
  • Purée sauce in a blender until smooth.
  • Strain sauce through a sieve. Serve hot over sausage.
  • Makes about 1 1⁄2 cups.
Now grill the sausage, serve with fries and top with copious amounts of said "ketchup" and more curry powder. Oh my god, i am starving! (now where do i get those plastic 2 prong forks...)
 
 
_I am jones-ing for a bowl of proper hot and sour soup right now. Where the stock isn't overly sweet (ahem, Golden Dragon in Mayfield Road) or too sour (ahem, the rest of the Americana Chinese restaurants in Cleveland).

The keys to a proper H&S soup are:
1. Proper use of white pepper
2. Proper use of corn starch "slurry"
3. Cutting all the ingredients into thin julienne strips proportional to the rest of the ingredients
and 4. Not overloading the soup with ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 5 dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup dried lily flowers
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup diced bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 cup pork loin, thinly sliced and quick marinated with sesame oil, salt/pepper and cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 package firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
Directions
  1. Soak the dried mushrooms and lily flowers in warm water for 20 minutes. After trimming off any tough stems, slice the mushrooms. With your hands, break apart the lily stems. Julienne them all into thin, similarly sized strips.
  2. Saute the the pork in a sauce pan with a little oil. When it's about half cooked, place the mushrooms, lily flowers, stock and bamboo shoots into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in soy sauce, sugar, salt, white pepper, sesame oil and vinegar. Combine cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add a little of the hot soup to the cornstarch, and then return all to the pan. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the firm tofu, and cook for a few minutes more.
  4. Just before serving, turn off the heat. Gradually pour the beaten egg in circular motion, let stand for a few moments before very lightly and very gently stirring. Taste and season if needed.
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish each bowl with diced scallion and a splash of red chili oil.