Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I've read in more than one blog, "Never buy salad dressing. Make your own." I agree. The benefits of making your own salad dressing are numerous. It's easy to make, you can adjust the ingredients to your taste, and you know what goes into it. It's often, though not always, cheaper to make your own dressing. When it's more expensive it's only because you're using better quality ingredients than the bottled stuff. This is the recipe I made after looking at several different recipes to decide on the combination of ingredients I wanted to use.
Buttermilk Blue Cheese Salad Dressing
2 1/2 ounces good quality blue cheese
3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/3 teaspoon granulated toasted onion powder (available from Penzey's -- you can substitute garlic powder)
Tabasco sauce to taste (a couple shakes)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix the blue cheese and buttermilk together with a fork until the mixture is semi-smooth. Stir in sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, onion powder, and Tabasco until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
5 slices bacon, finely chopped (bacon is easy to chop if you pop it into the freezer for a while first)
1/2 cup roasted garlic
1/4 cup sweated chopped onions
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
5 anchovy filets, mashed with a fork before mixing with ground beef
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
splash of worcestershire sauce
splash of tabasco sauce
Mix everything together with the tools that God gave you. Don't bother trying to mix with a spoon; it's a lost cause; get your hands in there!
Put muffin liners in a muffin tin. Press out part of the slider mixture, pastry dough style, onto a clean counter or a cutting board that can be sterilized. Use a cookie/biscuit cutter to cut equal/even sliders. Make sure that all sliders are the same thickness by judging according to the height of the cutter you're using. Place each slider into a muffin cup. As you fill the muffin cups, place new liners on top and continue filling with sliders. You can freeze any extra stacks of sliders to cook later.
To cook sliders: Heat a skillet to medium-hot. Sprinkle well with freshly ground black pepper. You don't need to add any extra salt to this recipe. Cook each slider for several minutes on each side. Serve on puff pastry "buns" with homemade ketchup and any other condiments you like.
Puff Pastry "Buns"
1 package of puff pastry
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
For the "buns," roll out a sheet of the puff pastry to a roughly 13" by 15" square. Use a cookie/biscuit cutter one size larger than you used for the sliders to cut round "buns" from the puff pastry. Place on a cookie sheet and cook until puffy and golden. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.
When I prepared this recipe the first time I made some faulty assumptions: I used the same size biscuit cutter for the sliders and the buns, thinking that the sliders would shrink more than they actually did and thinking the puff pastry "buns" would shrink less than they actually did. I recommend using a biscuit cutter one size larger for cutting the puff pastry than for cutting the sliders.
When the puff pastry "buns" cool, you can easily slice them in half to form top and bottom buns for your sliders.
(This amazing recipe is from Jamie Oliver on the Food Network. It takes a little time to make, but it's not difficult and it's absolutely worth making as it adds that "something special" to your sliders.)
Bizarrely enough for a chef, I really do take my hat off to Heinz, who have become the global brand of quality in the ketchup world. It's such an everyday cupboard product that you've probably never thought to make your own. But if you're growing tomatoes in the garden, or you catch sight of some really beautiful ones at the market in summer, just think how much of a treat it would be to offer your family or guests homemade ketchup. It's great fun to make. And you can make different colors of ketchup using just yellow, orange or green tomatoes - simply exchange the cherry and canned tomatoes for the same amount of your chosen colored ones.
1 large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
Thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 a fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
Bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound amazing cherry or plum tomatoes, halved plus 1 pound canned plum tomatoes, chopped or 2 pounds yellow, orange or green tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soft brown sugar
Place all the vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a big splash of olive oil and the ginger, garlic, chili, basil stalks, coriander seeds and cloves. Season with the pepper and a good pinch of salt.
Cook gently over a low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened, stirring every so often. Add all the tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.
Add the basil leaves, then whiz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender and push it through a sieve twice, to make it smooth and shiny. Put the sauce into a clean pan and add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, correct the seasoning to taste.
Happy birthday to the greatest nation on the face of the planet. We're so blessed to live here. Fireworks, pool parties, and burgers on the grill, that's pretty good; living in a democratic society, free of governmental or religious oppression, now that's something to celebrate! Happy 4th of July, everyone.