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.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pippa's Rainbow Cake

I sometimes worry that I might be a witch. It would make sense - I am not totally unsinister, with my weird red hair, beady black eyes, fearsome straight nose and strong Welsh ancestry (full of witches, Wales).

And it would explain a series of terrible things happening to people I hate. Three people, whom I have had cause to dislike intensely, have come to sticky ends - one had a near-fatal heart attack and was then made redundant, another broke their leg in an horrific accident and the other one actually died of cancer. All completely true. All in the last 3 years.

I cannot deny that I wished bad things for all of these people. But at the same time I cannot feel too guilty about any of it, because that would be to acknowledge that I think I really might be a witch - and that question would bring the priest and the doctor in their long coats running over the fields.

And anyway, terrible things happen to people I like, too - for example the woman I know whose newborn suddenly died last week, or my mother-in-law who had to have an emergency operation at Christmas. So if I do have any magical powers of Wicca, it probably isn't that I bring great pain and suffering to people who cross me - it's probably just that I bring shitty bad luck to everyone.

It is in this contrite mood that I turn to Celebrate, by Pippa Middleton. Everyone made terrific fun of this book when it came out, so furious were they all that she not only has a marvellous bottom and lovely swingy hair, but that she had landed a £400,000 book deal for writing about how to make paper chains.

But the thing is, this book is really terribly good and very inspiring and completely worth it if you are halfway inclined to throw parties but have, like me, little creative flair. And those famously obvious tips everyone scoffed at are actually perfectly sensible and not so obvious and stupid when you think of the awful, charmless parties you have been to where there's nowhere to sit, nowhere to put your coat and not enough to eat. If I turned up at any party even half as pretty as the ones shown in the pictures in Celebrate I'd be fucking beside myself with excitement.

So anyone who says this book is no good is just a bitter, miserable sour-face and I hope something awful happens to them.

It's also full of recipes, which I didn't realise. They are good, all useful classics like kedgeree, gravadlax and simnel cake and she has some brilliant ideas for inexpensive mass-canapes, like baking tiny baby new potatoes and finishing them off with a blob of sour cream and caviar (she suggests Sevruga, but there is nothing wrong with Lumpfish, frankly). AND she's got a twice-baked souffle thing, which I've been meaning to try for ages.

Pippa has also had the audacity to include a rainbow birthday cake, which caught my eye as it's Kitty's birthday quite soon and I do so like to present children with exactly what they want - i.e. hideous plastic toys with flashing light and noises, telly, full-fat, full-sugar, full-salt foodstuffs and enough E-numbers to blast them into space.

I was sceptical about the instructions for this cake, so I thought I would give it a go and possibly fuck it up, just to spread that essential extra bit of bad karma.

But even I didn't manage to ruin it too badly, although it didn't turn out anything like the picture. But that's my own fault. My complaint with this cake is not the method, which would be fine if you were a little more precise, artistic and meticulous than me, but that my blue and green came out as more or less the same colour. I think if I was going to do this again, I would know my limitations and maybe stick to only four colours - two in each sandwich half.

I might even, thinking about it, if I wanted to do four colours per sandwich half, fashion a cardboard cross to sit in the tin so that you could dollop the batter with confidence and whip the card away at the last minute to leave four reasonably even segments of colour.

I am also at a loss as to how one would present this without covering it with some sort of icing, as although the colours come out beautifully on the inside, the outside goes brown during cooking. Pippa helpfully includes a recipe for buttercream icing, which does the job: 125g soft butter, 250g icing sugar, 2 tbsp freshly boiled water and whisk.

The cake itself is delicious and the batter doesn't suffer too much from having the air knocked out of it when you mix in the food colouring.

Anyway so here we go:

Pippa's Rainbow Cake

the exact recipe can be found on p.312 of the excellent Celebrate, which I urge you to buy if you have half a mind to.

This mixture makes enough for a 20cm round or 18cm sq cake tin.

200g self-raising flour
200g sugar
200g butter at room temperature
4 eggs !! I know rather a lot
Large pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180C.

1 Cream together 200g butter and 200g sugar. Add the salt.

2 Whisk in the four eggs one by one. You do this to stop the mixture from curdling. I must say, I have never managed to stop a cake mixture from curdling completely even when doing this - but at the same time it has never made the cake horrible or anything. Having said all this, best not to dump all four eggs in at the same time.

3 Now fold in the flour.

4 Now divide your cake mixture into as many separate bowls as you have colours and give each bowl its own teaspoon with which to mix in the colour. Add each colour until you are happy with the saturation and then spoon the colours into your (well-greased) tin.

I was worried about this as I assumed they would all merge together and create a hideous grey/brown cake. They do not, as cake batter is reasonably stiff, but a clumsy hand such as mine means that I didn't get a gorgeously even distribution of colour as someone more talented might have. But these things are all about practice.

3 Give the tin a little shake to even the top out and then bung in the oven for 30-40 mins.

After this has cooled you may find you need to level off the top with a knife in order to be able to sandwich your two halves together, with the prettiest cake bottom (eh? See what I did there??) facing uppermost. As I had buttercream on the outside, I filled the middle with jam.

And I was really very pleased with it. So if Pippa suddenly drops dead of a brain tumour, you will know who to blame.


Next Up: Sausage Ribs

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta – This Was Anything But Flat

Please do not take this post’s brevity for any kind of lack of enthusiasm or excitement over this very handsome mushroom and ricotta bruschetta. Time’s a little short today, as my car’s left-front tire was fatally injured last night in a brutal pothole attack.

Everyone else is fine, but I didn’t want to delay the uploading of this fine recipe until I had time to do a proper blog post. So basically, I’m phoning this one in. Of course, my biggest fear isn’t that you’ll be disappointed…it’s that you won’t notice that big a difference.

Anyway, this was super tasty, and very simple to make. I show making the ricotta bruschetta part first, but as I mention, you’ll obviously want to have your mushrooms cooking while you prepare the bases. I hope you give this delicious, and very versatile dish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
red chili flakes to taste
4 thick slices of lightly toasted bread
1 tbsp olive oil
For the mushrooms:
2 tbsp butter, divided (half to sauté, half to stir in at end)
1 tbsp olive oil
16 large white mushrooms
1/4 cup green onions and/or 3-4 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

Bread and butter pudding

My mind has gone. I felt it fading away about two months ago but it's really gone now. Bye bye. I can't read anything and am starting to do things like order 5 of the same thing on Ocado when I only wanted 1 and leaving the iron on.

When I was just newly up the duff I was reading Bring Up The Bodies and although I didn't really understand what was going on, there was no doubt that I was genuinely reading it, enjoying the, you know, atmosphere, if not actually taking on board any content. But then, like the bloke in Flowers for Algernon, I gradually ground to a halt, got stupider and stupider, more vague. I read fewer pages every night until my Kindle battery ran out and I just didn't bother to recharge it.

And that was the last literary thing I read. Now I read newspapers and Twitter and that's it. I can't even really concentrate on films. It's not forever, I know, but it is annoying. It happened with Kitty, too, but things were easy then. I just sat about humming to myself, eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and ordering things off the John Lewis website. Now, with nothing to read and nothing to think about all I do is obsess over when this will all be over and I don't have to be pregnant anymore - or ever again.

I am constantly struck by the pitifulness of the pregnant woman-with-toddler combination. Whenever I saw them in the playground I always used to think "Oh god, you poor cow." And now it's me. Yesterday, as I pushed Kitty's buggy through the freezing rain I was brought to mind of a character in The Mayor of Casterbridge*, the tedious Thomas Hardy novel, (which I hope for your sake you have not bothered reading): little Fanny Robin, pregnant out of wedlock by a scoundrel soldier and forced to walk for miles and miles through the snow, 8 months gone. I think that's what kills her. Or maybe she dies in childbirth. Anyway, it's grim and I dwell ghoulishly on poor Fanny Robin as I am forced, bookless, to focus inwards.

It will do that to you, being pregnant - it makes you selfish, self-pitying, green-eyed. It makes you covet things - slimness, agileness**, more help or the life of the woman whose children are all at school.

This is an inappropriate introduction to my recipe today, which is for bread and butter pudding - probably the antithesis of all this stark moaning. If stark moaning were a foodstuff, it would be a bad cheese sandwich from a motorway service station. Bread and butter pudding on the other hand, is the food equivalent of a really brilliant wedding speech.

I am not going to provide you with completely exact quantities for this because your pudding dishes will all be different and it's a very simple thing to make, so being very precise doesn't matter and you can judge things by eye yourself. And if I say that, you know it must be true.

This is based on Delia Smith's recipe, so if you can't handle the vague quantities thing (and I wouldn't blame you), do seek hers out online.

So here we go, Bread and Butter pudding.

Some white bread
ground cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg or all three
some mixed candied peel might be nice? But don't go out specially for it
3 eggs (ok you really DO need 3 eggs here)
double cream
50g sugar
some lemon zest if you have it

Preheat your oven to 180C

1 Generously butter your pudding dish. Then start buttering slices of white bread on one side, cutting them in half - rectangles or triangles, up to you, (crusts on) and arranging them in the dish.

2 You ought to be able to get about two layers of bread in here, and between the two layers, throw in some currants and sultanas and a sprinkling of spice or spices. Be generous. I used only Allspice, but a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg would be lovely as well.

3 Repeat this on the final layer.

4 In a jug beat the three eggs and then add to this the sugar, lemon zest then the double cream and milk in a ratio of about 2/3 double cream to 1/3 milk and mix.

NOW - this is the bit where you have to judge for yourself how much cream and milk you need. You don't want the egg-and-cream mixture to be slopping over the sides, but you want the top layer of bread to be soaking up the mixture from the underneath. Err on the side of caution and add less than you think you need - you can always top up the cream and milk afterwards.

Stir all this round and then pour over the bread. Give it a small jiggle. Mix some more cream and milk together and slosh over if you think it needs it.

5 Finish this off with a sprinkling of granulated sugar, if you have it, then shove in the oven for 30-40 mins. The eggy mixture ought to be just set.

Eat with custard or more cream, while staring into space.

*Fanny Robin is not, of course, in The Mayor of Casterbridge but in Far From The Madding Crowd - I TOLD you I'd lost it...
** agileness!! not EVEN a word!! Just give me some colouring-in to do...


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A cabbage, 2 courgettes, carrots, parsnips and potatoes. I need a good veggie recipe please!?

Q. As well as the above I have most of the spices known to man in my cupboard.. it's my mums birthday and I want to make her a lovely tasting veggie stew when she comes for dinner later.

Any suggestions for something delicious that can incorporate any of those ingredients (plus more if necessary)?

Thank you!
ok just made up my own thing in the end. was hoping for a recipe idea but alas didn't get one. however still have to pick the best one.. thanks for all your help

A. Minus the courgettes, you could have a great dinner of corned beef and cabbage.

Cabbage, courgettes, carrots & onions would make a nice stir fry.

Sounds like you have the basis for a wonderful soup or stew. If you're going to use the cabbage in a soup, quarter it and shred with a knife really, really fine.

Add some bouillon, S&P and you're on your way.

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