Friday, January 11, 2013

Garlic Parm Hot Wings – Video Recipe 800! 800? Really?

This garlic Parmesan hot wings video represents the 800th recipe we’ve uploaded to YouTube since we launched the channel in January 2007. As I waited for the file to upload, an odd sense of disbelief started to wash over me. Had I really cooked, filmed, and posted 800 video recipes? It didn’t seem possible.

The more I thought about just how much content that is, the more improbable it seemed. 800 recipes? That’s like 10 cookbooks! Then, a different kind of disbelief came over me as I considered all the dishes I’ve still not done.

After all these hundreds and hundreds of recipes, I still have not done things like risotto, goulash, blue cheese dressing, calamari, or beef Wellington; just to name a few. Anyway, it was an interesting and introspective ten minutes, sitting there watching the upload progress bar slowly move across the screen, thinking about what I had done, and how much I still needed to do.

As far as these gorgeous wings go, they rocked. My wife Michele, who is not a big fan of chicken wings, ate more than I’d ever seen her eat before, and deemed them my best yet. I’m not sure about that, but they did come out really, really well.

One reason it’s hard to get a crispy-crusty coating on a wing in the oven is all the moisture that leaks out during the initial phase of baking. Here, we are parboiling the wings in a very flavorful liquid, which not only helped season the chicken, but also produced a surface texture in the oven that your guests will swear came straight out of a deep fryer. I hope you give these a try soon, and as always, and for the 800th time, enjoy!

Ingredients for 5 pounds of wings (about 48 pieces):
3 quarts cold water
1/4 cup salt
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
4 to 5 pounds of chicken wing sections
8-10 cloves garlic plus big pinch of salt
3 or 4 tbsp olive oil, or as needed
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste (obviously you can add cayenne or other hot stuff to make these even spicier)
2 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
about 1 cup of very finely and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
creamy Italian dressing for dipping, optional


Hello and welcome to part II of my Celebrate cooking odyssey, where I tell the tale of how I cooked three things from Pippa Middleton's book in one evening and almost had a nervous breakdown.

Today is gravadlax, which is home-cured salmon. I was really worried about this. I am terrified of supermarket raw fish. I think one ought to buy it, race home with it, cook it at 200C for 30 minutes and then eat it and throw the remains away in a council bin at least 300ft away from one's house.

(To all those who are on the verge of referring me to my home-made sushi phase - I used cooked, peeled prawns for that.)

So the idea that I was going to let some fish sit in my fridge "curing" for two days caused me intense anxiety. But not so anxious that I was going to go to a fishmonger for specially super salmon.

But I needn't have worried and you needn't worry either because it was just terrific and if I hadn't decided to do a moderately complicated starter and fiendishly tricky pudding either side of this, it would have been a complete doddle.

The premise is that you take some salmon, rub it with a lot of salt, herbs and GIN and then put something heavy on it and let it sit in your fridge for two days and it basically turns into smoked salmon. No, wait, it actually turns into gravadlax.

(Please see @emfrid, the associate-editor-at-large of this blog, who is a Scandi, for more information on an echt gravadlax.)

But this is vaugely how Pips does it. This is not her exact recipe as hers makes enough for 12 people.

Gravadlax for 2

2 salmon fillets
rind of one lemon
rind of one clementine or 1/2 an orange
2 tbsp gin - any old piss will do
1 small bunch dill
1 small bunch chives
2 handfuls maldon sea salt
a pinch of black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 Put everything except the salmon in a whizzer and whizz. If your salmon has arrived with skin attached, remove this the best way you can see how.

2 Lay the salmon out on some clingfilm and then smother it all over with your curing paste. Wrap the fish reasonably tightly in cling film and then sandwich it between two chopping boards or other heavy flat things and stick it in the fridge for two days.

3 When you are ready to eat this, take it out of the fridge, take the clingfilm off (the gin will probably have slightly leaked out of the clingfilm - don't worry), and brush or scrape off with a knife most of the curing paste, just to make sure no-one bites down on a rogue still-whole peppercorn.

Give yourself a bit of time to plate this up as what you are going to do is slice it very very thinly with a fucking sharp knife and it requires a reasonable amount of care.

4 In advance, make up some condiments to go with this such as:

Toasted soda bread - essential

Pickled cucumber
In a pan dissolve 1 tbsp of sugar in 2 tbsp white wine or rice wine vinegar. Leave to cool and then drop into it strips of peeled, de-seeded cucumber - marinate for at least an hour

Dill sauce
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
about 6-8 snips from a bunch of fresh dill
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp light olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Some capers

Some very finely-chopped shallot if you want

Ice-cold vodka shots????

Isn't this also sometimes eaten with boiled potatoes and sour cream or something? Em? Hello? Is this thing on?


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Next Up: Garlic Parm Hot Wings

Mushroom cappucino

I hope you realise how lucky you are to have me. How hard I work on your behalf. Do you know how much washing up there is involved in this little jig? I mean, I could just eat takeaway every night but I don't. I slaaaave away! Over a stove! Barefoot and pregnant! Just so you don't make a mess of recipes.

This is the sort of mood I'm in at the moment. Vile. Self-pitying. Martyrish. Rather than just doing whatever it takes to keep myself in a decent mood, I am tiring myself out, trying to do certain things, tick certain boxes and then snapping at everyone because I have run myself ragged or not had a nice time.

I've got to stop this. That way misery and divorce lies.  I realised at some point last year that if you are a wife and mother, you control the mood in your house. It's not your husband, or your child, it's you. If you are in a rat, everyone suffers; if you are depressed, everyone suffers. Happy wife, goes the saying, happy life.

Take yesterday. I decided on a whim to cook a three-course meal for my husband from things picked out of Celebrate, by Pippa Middleton. They all looked tasty to me and I haven't been doing many new things recently, so I thought I would. The menu went as follows:

Mushroom cappucino
Raspberry souffle

P-Mid did not, I ought to point out, put this menu together herself - these are just things I picked at random to make up a dinner.

And I ran myself absolutely flipping ragged doing it. By 8.30pm I was basically asleep on the sofa but hadn't yet finished the raspberry souffle, which was unbelievably complicated (although in the end a terrific success).

Anyway I recommend each of these dishes to you individually, (my husband said he had never eaten such good food in a domestic kitchen before, which makes rather a mockery of the last five years), but maybe don't do them altogether.

It would be too much to post all three recipes here, so I'll do each one in turn. Today it's mushroom cappucino, which is basically a little cup of delicious mushroom soup garnished with a froth. Giles says this is very early Nineties - Gordon Ramsay invented the soup cappucino apparently. But in 1993 I still hadn't been to a restaurant that wasn't McDonald's, so it all rather passed me by.

Generally-speaking I don't like soup, but what I mean by that is that I don't like a huge bowl of sloppy soup that you have to plough through. I'm always delighted with a little shot-glass amuse bouche of incredibly tasty soup that you gulp in one or two goes and go "yum yum". So this is what this is.

Mushroom cappucino
Serves 6

300g mixed mushrooms - chestnut/portobello mushrooms, for example
300ml milk
100ml double cream
dried mushrooms - wild or portobello or whatever
1 pint chicken stock
salt and pepper
4 spring onions
1 large clove garlic
butter and oil for frying
salt and pepper

1 Wash and roughly chop the mushrooms and spring onions. Melt about 40g butter with 2 tbsp groundut oil in a large pan and then sautee the mushrooms, spring onions and sliced garlic very hot for 4 minutes. Keep an eye on the time and keep everything moving around the pan. You do not want the garlic to catch and burn because it will taste filthy.

2 Now pour over the chicken stock and bring it all to a simmer for a minute.

3 Blend this however you can - with a stick blender or in a whizzer or whatever. Add 200ml milk, a long sloop of double cream and then season generously with salt and pepper.

4 To make your sprinkles, grind a palmful of dried mushrooms with a pinch of salt and about 10 turns of the pepper grinder in a peste and mortar if you have one. If not, you could probably just about get it all chopped up in a whizzer.

5 To serve put a ladleful of soup in a cup, topped with the froth off some frothed milk and a sprinkling of your dried mushroom powder.

To froth your milk, put about 100 ml in a pan and heat it gently then using one of those stick frother things, froth the milk in the pan over the heat. You will probably have to hold the pan at an angle and heat the cornered milk up over the flame.

(I am grateful to my sister Harriet for this tip as I had always tried to froth milk just heated up in the microwave and it doesn't work - at least, you don't get a foam.) 

If you don't have a stick frother thingy, it's perfectly okay to just drizzle on top of the soup some more double cream and add your sprinkles to that. I'm sure you could still call it a mushroom cappucino. I won't tell Gordon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Tuna Melt – Open Face, Insert Hypocrisy

If you watch as much food television as I do, then I’m sure you’ve heard a celebrity chef or two, pontificating about the horrors of combining cheese and fish. They say it’s never acceptable, no exceptions, never, ever.

Of course, after the show ends, they have a couple beers and head for their favorite late-night diner, where they enjoy delicious tuna melts. Those hypocritical bastards. I’m not saying to start pouring nacho cheese sauce over your sautéed sand dabs, but when it comes to food, it’s best to never say never.

As I mention in the video, this will only be as good as your tuna, so use something nice. You know I’m a Tonino man, but any imported, olive-oil packed brand should work fine. By the way, I enjoy the classic, toasted sandwich-style tuna melt a great deal, but this open face version is a little easier to execute, and perfect for larger groups, since you can fit a bunch on a pan.

Whether you use my formula or embellish to your tastes, I really hope you give these a try soon. And, if you know any celebrity chefs, invite them over and see if you can get them to admit this totally works. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large tuna melts:
2 thick slices of Italian or French bread
2 tbsp soft butter
6.5 oz jar of oil-packed tuna, drained
2 tbsp small diced celery
1 tbsp minced green onion
2 tsp capers
1 tsp hot chili sauce or other hot stuff to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp mayonnaise, or more to taste
about 1/3 cup shredded or crumbled fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
cayenne to taste

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sausage Ribs – Deliver A Bone-Jarring Hit to Your Football Food Lineup

Chips and dips may be fine for regular season gridiron action, but when the playoffs roll around, and you need to go that extra yard to score a touchdown with your guests’ taste buds, these Italian sausage-spiced baby back ribs are a proven big game performer. 

If only I could’ve somehow added a few more forced football references into that intro.

Sweet and succulent pork ribs are never a bad addition to the game day buffet, but they can get predictable with the same old rubs and sauces. Here we have all the baby back rib-y goodness you know and love, but with the flavor profile of sweet Italian fennel sausage.

I know a lot of you wrap your ribs in foil for the initial slow/low cooking phase, as do I, but here we’re doing them uncovered to help achieve a slightly chewier, more toothsome texture. These are still quite tender and juicy, but just not too soft, and falling off the bone.

These really did have a wonderful flavor, which was further highlighted by the spicy, sweet, and tangy orange glaze. My only regret was that I didn’t have any hotdog buns around, as I would have pulled out the bones, and served these just like a real sausage sandwich. There’s always a next time.

Anyway, I enjoyed all that rich and fancy holiday feasting as much as anyone, but now all I’m craving is a couch, a cold beer, and a simple plate of ribs…that tastes like sausage. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 racks of baby back ribs:
2 trimmed racks of baby back pork ribs
For the rub:
1 tbsp fennel seed, crushed fine
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste
For the glaze (simmer until reduced by half):
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp hot chili sauce or to taste
1 tbsp orange zest

- Bake ribs at 275 degrees F. for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until fork tender.
- Cut, coat with glaze, and finish in a hot 425 degrees F. oven until caramelized.