Thursday, September 22, 2016

How to Make Perfect Instant Mashed Potatoes for Fun and Profit

I almost never do sponsored videos, and that has nothing to do with not wanting to sell out. I’d love to sell out. Who wouldn’t? No, it’s more the fact that very rarely does everything line up to make one of these possible, as it did with this video for Idahoan Signature™ Russets Mashed Potatoes.

Rarely do I get offered a chance to feature a product that I actually like, and use, so when they offered to sponsor a video, I jumped at the chance to show off one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Although, these are a far cry from the gummy, horribly artificial tasting stuff I ate as a kid. Made properly, they are remarkably close to freshly made.

And by properly made, I mean follow the directions on the package, which for an old chef is not easy. As you know I’m not big on measuring, but for this, that’s really the key. If you don’t believe me, go out and buy a package, and taste for yourself, as I think you’ll be impressed. I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Obligatory Sponsored Post Disclaimer: This post and video were sponsored by Idahoan Signature™ Russets Mashed Potatoes, and I was compensated for my efforts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pizza Dough Pretzels or Bavarian Bagels?

When you’re shopping, and get a sudden craving for homemade soft pretzels, there’s not a lot you can do to satisfy that yearning immediately. Sure, you can set some dough when you get home, and wait for it to rise, but by the time that’s done, how do you even know your still going to want pretzels?

Well, the solution to this probably not very common problem is store-bought pizza dough. While I don’t necessarily recommend it for making world-class pizza, if you’re willing to eat something that looks like a bagel, it works very well for making pretzels.

By the way, if you’re wondering exactly, specifically, and precisely what the difference is between bagels and pretzels, I’m not sure I’m the one to ask. I believe the doughs are slightly different, as well as the solution they’re boiled in, but above and beyond that, you should hit the search engines up for more details.

Normally, I would’ve done that before writing the post, but did I mention the pretzels and beer? Like I said in the video, if you do want to make your own pretzel dough, go for it, since the technique will work the same no matter where you’re dough comes from. Regardless of what you use, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 homemade soft pretzels:
1 pound prepared pizza dough, plus all-purpose flour as needed, divided into six balls
6 cups water
1/3 cup baking soda
coarse salt

- Bake at 400 F. for about 20 minutes, or until beautifully browned, and stretch marks have formed. Exact times will depend the specific size and shape of your pretzel.

- Tip:  if you’re making rings, be sure to stretch them out, so your pretzels are not too thick. You don’t want them any fatter than I made, otherwise they become too bready. Larger, thinner dough rings we’ll give you a chewier pretzel, closer to the ones you get at the mall.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Classic Guacamole – How to Make Guacamole Like a Guacamaster

It’s National Guacamole Day, or at least for a few more hours it is. Having said that, there is no bad day to make guacamole. There are few things as easy, healthy, and delicious as this ubiquitous dip. However, unless you’re grinding your aromatic vegetation in a molcajete, or against a cutting board as seen here, you’re really not tasting a classic guacamole. 

The flavors not only become more intense, but actually change in character. This is just what those bland, fatty, but delectable avocados need. That and a thoughtful seasoning of lime juice, and maybe some more salt.

I know we’ve already posted a guacamole video, but that was like 8 years ago, and probably before I knew how to make it properly. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 portions:
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely diced white onion
2 tablespoons minced serrano pepper (or more jalapeño)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided in half (half to grind, half to add later)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for grinding vegetables, plus more to taste
6 small or 4 large Hass avocados
1 cup diced ripe tomatoes, drained, optional
juice of one lime, or to taste

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Chicken à la King – Only in America

Chicken à la King is one of my favorite classic, comfort foods, and in additional to being delicious, you also get to make up your own story of where the name came from. Just promise me not to use mine. You can have the recipe, but the Don King story is proprietary.

This is an easy recipe to adapt, and you can also make it thicker/thinner if you want by simply changing the amount of roux. Have a little extra stock on hand to thin if need be, and not a lot can go wrong. And don’t even get me started on how great this is for using up leftover vegetables.

As I mentioned in the video, I’ll normally make this kind of thing the day after roasting a big chicken. You can eat some, and save the rest of the meat and bones for this. Or, you can just roast two chickens. They refer to that as “have your chicken and eat it too.” I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for two large, or four small portions:
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
2 large shallots, minced
1 cup diced sweet bell peppers
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, depending on how thick you want it
1/4 cup dry sherry (there is no substitute, except maybe a little splash of a mild, sweeter vinegar)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Italian parsley
1/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
4 cups cubed roasted chicken
fresh chives to garnish