Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Vegetable Cavatelli with Fresh Corn “Cream” – Corn Not Cows!

There’s a restaurant near us that features a burrata-filled tortellini, served in a cream sauce fortified with fresh, sweet corn. It’s a wonderful dish, and was the inspiration for this simple, summer vegetable cavatelli.

I was going to use reduced cream, with fresh, pureed corn stirred in at the end, but then I had a thought. What if skipped the dairy altogether, and made the sauce 100% cob-based? I was also out of cream.

So, I blended the fresh corn with some chicken broth, and ended up with what looked like corn milk. At first, I thought I’d made it too thin, but after a few tests reducing some in a pan, I realized it was thickening up beautifully.

While I was very happy with this, in hindsight, I’d do a few things differently next time. I went with pancetta, but I think the smokiness of bacon would have made this even more delicious. I also think you should probably add the corn cream to the vegetables, and bring it to a simmer before the pasta is added.

Of course, this recipe will work with whatever fresh seasonal vegetables you happen to find at the market, as long as its something that tastes good with sweet corn. In related news, everything tastes good with sweet corn. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:

For the corn “cream” (will make more than needed for the recipe)
2 ears fresh white corn, or other sweet corn
2 cups chicken broth or water

For the pasta:
2 cups cavatelli
1 tbsp olive oil
4 ounces diced bacon or pancetta (sausage would also work nicely)
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper
1 1/2 cup diced zucchini
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 to 2 cups corn “cream,” or as needed
1 cup halved sweet cheery tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 tbsp finely sliced basil leaves
grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Turkish Chicken Kebabs – Expect More

I’d like to think that all the chicken coming off American grills this summer will be as tasty, juicy, and tender, as these Turkish chicken kebabs, but I know better. This has nothing to do with cooking skills, or quality of grills, but rather the unremarkable residue of low expectations.

People simply don’t expect much from their grilled chicken, and that’s exactly what they get. They use too little seasoning, and way too much time on the grill, followed by the inevitable barbecue sauce cover-up. Sure, the chicken was dry, but at least we couldn’t taste it.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By using a flavorful, yogurt-based marinade, like the one seen herein, even inexperienced grillers can produce impressive results. The acid and calcium in the yogurt tenderizes the meat, and unless it’s horribly over-cooked, you’ll be enjoying the kind of succulent chicken you didn’t even realize was possible.

Like I mentioned in the video, I’m not sure how "Turkish" this is. It’s loosely based on a lamb marinade I’ve used for a long time, but it really worked beautifully on these thighs. I really hope you give this easy, and very adaptable recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 large portions:
1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp ketchup
6 finely minced garlic cloves
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Aleppo red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 long metal skewers

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. Ever.

I know, everybody says that, but I really mean it. These are, these have to be, the best chocolate chip cookies, ever. Crispy around the edges, chewy and chocolaty in the middle, and thin, oh so thin.

The only way someone doesn’t love these, is if they prefer thick cookies instead, which, in that case, makes their opinion invalid, since they’re obviously crazy. Besides, you know you can just press two thin cookies together to get a thick one. Right?

My “secret” formula has been adapted from Alton Brown’s famous, “The Thin” recipe, and is fairly foolproof. The only real variable is the baking time, since we all scoop slightly different amounts. Mine took about 12 minutes, but if you make yours a little bigger, or smaller, that time will change.

And yes, of course you can add nuts to yours! I’m a walnut guy from way back, but decided to go sans nuts for this video. Speaking of nuts, you’re nuts if you don’t try this very simple, and amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about 32 Chocolate Chip Cookies (depending on size):
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon of fine table salt)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) very soft unsalted *butter (be sure the butter is room temp, and very, very soft!)
*I used a high-quality European-style butter, and recommend you do the same. Cheaper butters will have more water content, which can affect the fat ratio, and thickness of your cookie.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Bake at 375 F. for about 12 minutes