Archive for April, 2008

Duck Confit

Posted on April 29, 2008. Filed under: patience, poultry, recipe, slow |

Duck Legs
4 Cloves Garlic
3 Shallots
6 Sprigs Thyme
Two Cups Duck Fat (!)
Ingredients per two legs

Welcome back to the world of dishes that take a lot of patience,
 but very little effort.  So, this might seem like it’s a chore.  The reality is, this is amazingly easy to make.  Added bonus, your kitchen will smell more amazing than it ever has.
Here’s the most challenging part of the dish- finding duck legs!  You’ll be able to get them fresh at upscale markets like Whole Foods.  Ask the butcher if you don’t see any out there.  You’ll also be able to find them frozen at most decent grocery stores.
Once you’ve acquired the legs, it’s time to cure.  Give them a decent coating of salt, rub it all over.  Crush garlic and shallots, stuff some under skin with half the thyme.  Place the remainder on the flesh side.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 48 hours.  Yup, patience.  After 48 hours, rinse the duck.
Now for something you’ve never done before…cooking in duck fat!  Where you find the duck, you’ll find the fat.  Melt the fat over low heat, add the duck, and place in a 225F oven.  Let the duck cook slowly for about 3 hours.  Trust me, you’re going to be a happy camper.  My whole apartment smelled like heaven.
Remove the duck from the oven, remove from fat, pat dry.  Happiness.
If you’re totally against cooking in duck fat, you can use olive oil.  Fear not, the duck will still taste great.  Perhaps not as great, but pretty great nonetheless.  If you do (and you should!) go for the fat, you can strain it and refrigerate.  A little duck fat when cooking will make everything taste better.  My chef friends agree!
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Quick and Healthy Dessert

Posted on April 21, 2008. Filed under: dessert, easy, fruit, healthy, recipe |

One Cup Pain Greek Yogurt
-Can sub any good yogurt
-To taste, aprox 4 tablespoons
1/2 Cup Seasonal Fruit
1/3 Cup Granola
Thin Strip of Basil (optional)
Serves Two

Mix all together.  Split into two portions.  Eat.
Easy peasy, eh?
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Hot for Passover, What You Can Do to Make Matzo Better!

Posted on April 18, 2008. Filed under: easy, hodgepodge, recipe, sandwich |

Sliced Turkey
BBQ Sauce
Your Favorite Cheese
or Cheese Substitute If You’re Kosher
For me, the worst thing about passover is the lack of bread.  I love a good sandwich, and giving that up for eight days is bad news.  Also, what does one do with matzo?  Sure, you can make matzo brei, but that’s about where it ends.  Matzo with butter?  Please.
So I decided to take things into my own hands.  Sandwich?  Check.  Matzo good?  Check.  The only equipment you need is a knife and a (toaster) oven.
Start by layering sliced turkey on the matzo.  You’ll want the layer to be two or three slices, depending on how thick the turkey is cut.  Next, cover the turkey with a bit of BBQ sauce.  Slice an apple as thin as you can, and cover the BBQ sauce with the slices.  (TIP: to make slicing easier, cut a quarter of the apple, place the flat end down, then slice!)  Finally, add a layer of your favorite cheese, muenster ranked best in our experiment.
Keeping kosher?  You can try a soy cheese on top, though I’m not sure how well it melts.  Another alternative is to use dairy free cream cheese.  Spread that atop the turkey, before the BBQ sauce.  Cook until everything is warm, about 4 minutes.  Remove and top with lettuce.  Strange as it may seem, my favorite option for kosher eating is…vegetarian!  I know.  Crazy.  Simply replace the turkey with roasted red peppers, and continue as instructed below.
Place the loaded matzo in a hot oven.  Remove when cheese turns a golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Passover is now better, because you have a hot sandwich.
NOTE:  This was originally intended to be a short video blog (vlog!).  Sadly, my editing skills are not quite the same as Robert Davidian, our TMK pilot editor.  Some day, some day, some day…
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Brotherhood Steak

Posted on April 17, 2008. Filed under: beef, easy, favorite, grill, hodgepodge, recipe |

New York Strip Steak
Olive Oil
Brother, or other friend (optional, but recommended)
My brother and I used teamwork the other night to make some kick-ass steaks. Generally, a great strip steak is something that happens only in a steak house. This one, however, came pretty damn close.
We started by rubbing the meat with a little bit of olive oil, then seasoning the steaks well with salt and pepper. Brother then cut generous slices of butter to put atop the steak, while I got the grill ready. I used hardwood lump charcoal, which I’d highly recommend over the cheaper commercial kind. It burns hotter, and has a better flavor.
After a few minutes on the grill, you might notice a whole lot of smoke. This is from the butter hitting the coals. Don’t stress about it, just give it a few sprays from a water bottle. The butter/fire reaction will enhance the flavor of the steak. While you’re doing that, have brother slice more butter.
After about 3.5 minutes, depending on thickness of your steak and how close it is to the fire, flip, and butter the flipped side. Remove from grill, allow to rest a few minutes, eat and be happy.
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Live Radio Show

Posted on April 16, 2008. Filed under: hodgepodge |

I spent an hour live on Stardish Radio tonight.  Stardish is an internet radio station that hosts live chats with actors and whatnot.  It’s hosted by the very chatty and amusing Jo Ann & Jennifer.  It was the first time I’ve done such a thing, and was a a pretty sweet experience.
An hour chat is a pretty long time, so we covered a broad range of topics.  After talk of upcoming releases Bottle Shock, This Man’s Kitchen, and Killer Movie, things move anywhere from defending soap opera acting (they do an amazing amount of work in a very shot time with low production values…) to bashing Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.  We had a live phone call from someone in New York, and a special guest appearance by my mom!  
If you’d like to listen, it’s up on their site now.
In other news, the San Jose Sharks played a gutty game tonight, Joe Thornton scoring the game winner with less than 10 seconds to go.  Series is tied at two.
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Pot Roast

Posted on April 12, 2008. Filed under: beef, favorite, recipe, simmer, slow |

4lb Top Round Roast

5 Carrots, quartered
5 Stalks Celery, quartered
1 Large Onion, quartered
2 Parsnips, quartered
1 Turnip, quartered
5 Cloves Garlic, smashed
2 Cups Red Wine
2 Cups Beef Broth
1 Cup Pureed Tomatoes
4 Carrots, quartered
1 lb. Boiling Potatoes, Yukon Gold if Possible

Begin by rinsing beef, and salting genrously. In a deep pan or dutch oven, brown all sides until deep color is achieved. This is important in both forming the braising liquid, and developing the flavor of the meat. There’s not too much work for you to do after this, so take your time.

While the beef is browning, transfer the vegetables to a roasting pan. Toss with a little vegetable oil and salt, and roast in a 400F oven for 20 minutes, until veggies just begin to show color.

When beef is browned, deglaze pan with red wine, making sure to scrape brown bits off sides and bottom of pan. Add broth, tomatoes, roasted veggies (with pan juices), and beef. Cover, and simmer for 2.5 hours.

At this point you have two options. You can allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight. This will result in a deeper flavored sauce. Or, you can continue to the next step straightaway.
Remove beef from pan, and transfer to a cutting board. Strain braising liquids through a sieve, then return strained liquid to pan. Remove onions, puree spent veggies, mix with some of the beef, and serve to your dog. She will be happy.
Slice the beef, against the grain, into medium thick slices. Return to pan, along with 2nd batch of carrots. Simmer, and after an hour, add potatoes. Total second cook should be 2-3 hours, depending on your patience. Make sure potatoes are cooked through.
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Smoked Maple Rosemary Pork Loin

Posted on April 12, 2008. Filed under: pork, recipe, slow |

Pork Tenderloin
For Brine:
4 Cups Warm Water
1 Cup Ice
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
4 Sprigs Rosemary, Bruised with Back of Knife
1/8 Cup Garlic Powder
1/8 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Wood Chips for Smoking
4 Sprigs Rosemary
3 Shallots, Chopped
1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/8 Cup Grapeseed or Other Neutral Oil
Alright, back to form, this is a LONG cooking dish. Three days, if done right! Fear not, friends.  Most of the work is done by Father Time.  You get to sit back, and, if you have the patience, eat something that will blow you away.
Start by combining all brine ingredients, except ice. Mix to incorporate salt and sugar, then add ice to cool. Add tenderloin, and allow to brine at least 8 hours, better if longer, up to 24 hours.

Remove pork from brine, rinse, and pat dry. Smoke at 250F for 1.5 hours. I used a combination of hickory and cherry woods.
Place smoked pork, shallots, rosemary, maple syrup, and oil in aluminum foil, wrap, and cook for 1 hour in a 350F oven. At this point, you can allow it to cool and place overnight in refrigerator. This will allow smoke and maple/rosemary flavors to penetrate into the loin. It’s an optional step, but it’s worth it! (Proceed straight to glaze if step skipped)

Return wrapped pork to 350F oven and heat for 30 minutes. Then, open foil, glaze the top of the pork with juices, and allow to cook for about another 15 minutes, until a rich, deep glaze develops. Slice at a 45 degree angle, spoon over a little of the leftover juices, and serve.
I realize this takes a lot of time. It doesn’t take too much work, though, and, to be frank, it’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever cooked.

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A Different Take on Leftover Chicken

Posted on April 12, 2008. Filed under: easy, leftover, poultry, recipe |

Leftover Chicken Breast, Sliced

1/2 Lime
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
1/8 Cup Grapeseed, or Other Neutral Oil
Pinch Celery Salt
Pinch Salt
Pinch Sugar
Pinch Chili Powder (Optional)
So, I’ve been posting a lot of slow cook recipes. Here’s a little something quick and different.
Slice chicken breast. Squeeze lime onto chicken, add oil. Toss chicken with hands. Add spices, and most of cilantro, and toss again. Top with remaining cilantro. Serve cold.
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Cooking Thanksgiving

Posted on April 12, 2008. Filed under: hodgepodge, poultry, vegetable |

The home kitchen has been running crazy for the last 24 hours. Items cooked- turkey, pan gravy, sweet potatoes two ways, mac ‘n cheese, green beans, ice cream. Items opened- cranberry sauce (I just love the jelly better than the home cooked), stuffing.


16.5 lb Turkey
Brine Solution
2 Oranges
1 Large Onion
2 Stalks Celery
2 Carrots
1 Stick of Butter
Dry Spice Rub: Sage, Rosemary, Marjoram, Salt, Pepper

Wash turkey, remove neck and giblets. Feed neck and giblets to your dog for everlasting love. Brine turkey for 24 hours. To make brine: 3 quarts hot water, two cups salt, two cups sugar, 1/2 cup dry spice rub. Mix in hot water until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 1/4 cup gin. Let cool 15 minutes, then add two quarts ice water. Cover turkey with brine and refrigerate.

After 24 hours, rinse and dry turkey. Melt one stick butter, then add about 1/4 cup spice rub. Coat breast meat under the skin and the entire outside of turkey. Roast turkey at 325 for about 12 minutes a pound, until thigh meat reaches 165. Let rest 45 minutes, then carve. For better color and gravy, pour can of coke over turkey two hours into cooking.


After removing turkey from roasting pan, strain juices into another container. Deglaze pan with one cup white wine. Strain into container. Allow to rest 30 minutes, then skim fat from the top. Strain, again, into sauce pan, and thicken. Let rest five minutes before serving.


5 Sweet Potatoes
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
Pumpkin Pie Spices
Candied Buttered Pecans

Roast sweet potatoes at 450 degrees for one hour. Let them cool to touch, then scoop contents into a mixing bowl. Add 3/4 stick of butter, cream, milk, syrup, sugar, and whisk until smooth. Season with spices & salt to taste. The mix should be savory, sweet, and taste like Thanksgiving.

Transfer mix to baking pan, and top half with marshmallows & half with pecans. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows brown.

To make pecans: toss raw pecans in medium-hot pan for 3 minutes. Add 1/4 stick of butter, toss for 2 more minutes. Add 1/4 cup honey or agave nectar and toss one more minute. Cool on a cooling rack.


See earlier post.


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Fried Chicken Cutlets, Conflake Crust

Posted on April 12, 2008. Filed under: easy, fry, poultry, recipe |

Chicken breasts, pounded thin
Cornflake Crumbs
Pinch each: salt & sugar
Lemon, or other sauce

This is a quick and easy deep fry. Pound the chicken breasts fairly thin, to about 1/4 inch. Mix flour, milk, and a pinch each of salt and sugar. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Dip chicken into the mixture, coating both sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate covered in cornflake crumbs, and bread the chicken.

Deep fry chicken at 375 degrees until golden brown. The fry should last about 4 minutes. Don’t over fry! If deep fryer not available, can be done in cast iron skillet, or lightly dressed with olive oil and baked in oven. However, as always, deep fryer is best.

Remove chicken to cooling rack, season with salt/spice rub, transfer to plate, and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top. Or, season however you want- this preparation is very versatile!

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