You’re A Wizard, Harry! – Butterbeer Pancakes & Hagrid’s Hungryman Stew with Pumpkin-Potato Mash

Fall’s right around the corner folks. We’re almost there.

The thought prompted an idea for a Harry Potter movie binge watch this past weekend – with Harry Potter-themed food and all.

Honestly, though, this was all just a poorly veiled excuse to not leave the apartment.

I give us a B, because we were conked out by The Half-Blood Prince. But we did much better than I thought – and when I wasn’t watching, I was cooking. It was a very magical day.

I love the fairy-tale food you see in movies and shows – doesn’t butterbeer sound like it should exist? J.K. Rowling is a genius. Side note – if you look closely, I think the stage drink is actually orange juice.

If I were to guess the flavor profile of butterbeer, I’d think it would be butterscotch-y.  I used butter flavoring – but there’s also some cream element from the foamy topping you see in the movies. And I’d think it would have spices in there like vanilla, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon.

I don’t know what the hell is in butter flavoring, and I don’t want to find out. But I think it’s an underused additive – super, super savory, and reminiscent of breakfast foods. We should all use it more often.

The night before we packed it in, I gave always-hungry Matt his run of the produce section and butcher counter to pick out the foods he’d like in a meaty, vegetable-y stew – believing that as long as I added enough beef stock, tomato paste, garlic and herbs, we’d probably be in OK shape.

The day of, I threw the meats and vegetables in a crockpot to go low and slow. I served it over a pumpkin-potato mash, and it was super rustic and awesome-tasting. He went heavy on the mushrooms, which is never a bad idea. And it’s named in honor of my favorite oaf Hagrid, the cutest man-giant alive today.

I hope you HP fans enjoy. 😊

F o r  t h e  B u t t e r b e e r  P a n c a k e s

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  P a n c a k e s

  • Prepared pancake mix of your choosing (other ingredients per package directions)
  • 1 tablespoon butter flavoring
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

F o r  t h e  W h i p p e d  C r e a m

  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon cinnamon

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Mix the ingredients (per package instructions), adding the additional ingredients spices the end. Combine vigorously with a whisk. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes so the batter has a chance to thicken.
  2. To make the whipped cream, put the heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, and run on high speed for 5 or so minutes, until the cream is whipped. Stir in the remaining spices and let sit in fridge while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  3. Heat a griddle and add the butter. Once the butter is foaming, pour a ladle-full of pancake batter into the hot pan. Once bubbles appear in the center of the pancake, flip it to the other side to finish cooking. Repeat until all batter is gone.
  4. To serve the pancakes, add a dollop of the whipped cream on top of stacks of four pancakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with maple syrup, if desired.

F o r  H a g r i d ‘ s  H u n g r y m a n  S t e w  w i t h  P u m p k i n – P o t a t o  M a s h

Serves 2 to 4.

F o r  t h e  P u m p k i n – P o t a t o  M a s h

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into quarters
  • 1 28 oz. can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 1 / 2 stick butter, salted or unsalted, melted
  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put the quartered potatoes in a large pot of boiling water. Cook until tender and drain.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. With a hand mixer, combine the ingredients on high speed until few potato chunks remain. Taste for seasonings, adjusting as necessary.
  3. Set aside until stew is ready or eat on its own.

F o r  t h e  S t e w

I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 2 lbs. boneless stew meat of your choosing, cut into large cubes (red meat is preferred, we used beef ribeye)
  • 3 lbs. hearty vegetables of your choosing, cut into large bite-sized pieces (we used small Vidalia onions, quartered Spanish onion, sliced carrots, whole white button mushrooms and fresh spinach leaves)
  • Approximately 1 liter beef stock (enough beef stock to cover halfway up meat and vegetables)
  • Approximately 10 stems thyme, 5 stems sage, 3 stems rosemary tied into a bouquet garnier (tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal)
  • 1 head garlic, skins removed and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Shredded parm reg, if desired
  • Minced rosemary, if desired

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put all the ingredients in a crockpot, stirring so everything has a chance to combine. Put the slow cooker on high, cover with the lid, and cook for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is falling apart.
  2. Serve ladlefuls of the stew over the pumpkin-potato mash, sprinkling with parm reg and minced rosemary, if desired.

 

Pan-Seared Foie Gras Mousse Au Poivre

Whoever first had the idea to whip fatty goose liver with heavy cream, and then proceed to add a cap of hardened butter on top – I praise you.

I find myself saying so and so is my favorite food, then a minute later claiming something else is my favorite food.  “Pizza,” “mashed potatoes,” “bacon,” “tacos,” “macaroni and cheese,” “oysters,” “pickles,” “queso,” “Chipotle burrito bowls” and “any cheese on the face of the earth” have come out of my mouth at some point in response to that question.

But if I’m being honest, foie gras is my favorite food of all time. I mean it.

There’s really not much you can do to make foie gras, in whatever form it comes in, better than it already is. So my idea here was to leave the mousse completely unadulterated, and treat it like a steak. So I seared it on high with an au poivre coating, which if you don’t know what that is – is just a fancy way of saying crushed black peppercorns – and it was hard not to inhale the whole thing Kirby-style.

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The quality of the foie gras mousse, or any foie gras product you’re purchasing, should always be sky-high. Go ahead, skimp on the fresh shrimp for the frozen shrimp. But I’d never mess around when it comes to foie gras. With all the intense animal flavor in there, there’s not much room for error. And you don’t want to gross any other eaters who are already tentative on trying it.

Whole Foods sells a great brand – Greenwich village-based Trois Petite Corchons. But any high quality brand would be delicious here.

My next move? Making my own foie gras mousse! Stay tuned. But before I give it a go, any pointers?

 I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 to 6 as an hors d’oeuvre.

  • 8 oz. foie gras mousse, of your choosing
  • 6 to 8 teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 1 baguette, sliced on the diagonal
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *450.
  2. Right from the fridge, slice the mousse in long pieces, and distribute the peppercorns evenly on side of the mousse. Press down on the peppercorns so they embed.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Place the mousse slices in the oil, searing for 2 minutes on each side, browning the mousse slightly. Be careful when flipping, as the mousse can fall apart. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. To make the crostini, put the slices of baguette on a sheet pan and brush each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the preheated oven and broil until the crostini are golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Arrange the seared foie gras mousse on a serving plate alongside the crostini. Serve with parsley for garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

Philly Cheesesteak (According to a Local)

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know the first thing about the authentic Philly cheesesteak experience.

My boyfriend, thankfully, is an expert in the topic having grown up not too far from downtown Philly in Wilmington, Delaware. And boy am I eager to learn.

He was insistent on a few things – namely that the beef must be sliced as thin as possible, and the cheese be gooey. Too much liquid would lead to soggy, undesirable buns. And the only rolls you are allowed to use are called Amoroso’s Rolls. Unable to get my hands on those rolls here in D.C., I settled for Portuguese rolls I found at the Whole Foods bakery. They have an airy, crisp crust and fluffy inside.

The exact response I received when I asked about a suitable substitute roll –

Well if it’s on an Amoroso Roll, you don’t need to worry about it getting soggy.

Alright. I get the point.

If you have a Taylor Gourmet in your vicinity, know that he ardently vouches for their Philly Cheesesteaks when he needs his fix.

To accompany the beef? Well, peppers are a no-no. Sautéed white onion, only. That, and no Cheeze Whiz – a misconception, apparently. Kraft Singles it is. And lots, lots of it.

But, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. So I added Worcestershire sauce and fresh garlic to this – I wanted their flavor profile here to up the savoriness factor.

My favorite part about this sandwich are the proportions. The sliced ribeye dominates, but the cheesy Kraft Singles glue the beef, onions and garlic together in a magical way. I couldn’t ask for a yummier, oozier sandwich.

How did he do, Philly cheesesteak aficionados? Is this as authentic as it gets? 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 2 sandwiches.

  • 2 hoagie rolls of your choosing
  • 3 / 4 pound boneless ribeye, sliced very thin
  • 1 / 2 medium onion, sliced thinly in half moons
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 Kraft American Single slices (yellow or white, but white is preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onions and sautee for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat until translucent. After 10 minutes, add the garlic and continue to sautee for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside for later. In the same pan, add the sliced beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Brown on medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and almost all of the liquid is evaporated.
  3. Off the heat, add the Kraft Singles and the onion and garlic mixture, stirring until the Kraft Singles begin to melt into the beef and vegetables. This should only take 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Distribute the beef topping evenly on the rolls, smushing down to adhere the filling to the bread.
  5. Serve hot.

 

 

 

Buffa-nero Chicken Nuggets with Lemon-Lime Gorgonzola Dipping Sauce

I have this running joke that I’m a hot sauce addict.

Thank God for science, because we can prove that eating the capsaicin in chili peppers results in the release of endorphins, giving hot sauce an addictive quality. So I guess it isn’t so much a joke as an actual fact.

But I’m living in the right time and place. Because nowadays, there’s more hot sauces to choose from than we know what to do with. I love discovering new brands in the grocery store, because each one has their own flavor profile and affinity to certain foods that I can tease out over time.

More often than not, I’ve found that hot sauces tend to fall into one of these buckets.

  • Cayenne Pepper-Based Hot Sauces
  • Green Hot Sauces (Jalapeno, Serrano, Poblano)
  • Very Hot Hot Sauces (Ghost Pepper, Scotch Bonnet, Habanero)
  • Smoky Hot Sauces (Chipotle)
  • Buffalo Wing Hot Sauces
  • Authentic Asian Hot Sauces
  • Authentic Mexican Hot Sauces

At any given time, you will find somewhere between fifteen and twenty hot sauce bottles on the door of my fridge.  There is a systematic approach to this madness. Some of the hot sauces are sparingly reserved for select foods – while others can go on just about anything.

Here’s a look into the best food & hot sauce combinations I’ve pinpointed in over a quarter lifetime of trial and error. Most are pretty obvious, but some are unexpectedly perfect when you take that bite. And because some of the hot sauces I’d like to call out by name are hard to come by – i.e. bought at an airport in Mexico, I’m just including the easy-to-find varieties you can buy almost anywhere.

  • Tabasco (Original) – Runny Eggs, Burritos, Raw Seafood, Potato Salad, Clam Chowder
  • Tabasco (Chipotle) – Steak, Chicken, Mixed Kebabs, Ribs, Rice Bowls, Roasted Nuts
  • Tabasco (Jalapeno) – Beans, Lentils, Bruschetta, Guacamole
  • Tabasco (Scorpion) – Ceviche, Honey-Mustard Sauce, Hearty Seafood, Tamales, Polenta, Onion Dip, Scotch Eggs
  • Crystal – Macaroni & Cheese, Fried Chicken, Hashbrowns, Sausages, Biscuits, Pot Pies, Gratins, Grits
  • Texas Pete’s (Original) – Mashed Potatoes, Pot Roast, Jambalaya
  • Cholula (Original) – Scrambled Eggs, French Fries, Grilled & Roasted Vegetables, BLTs, Tomato Soup
  • Cholula (Green Pepper) – Lamb, Hot Dogs, Cheeseburgers, Corn Salad, Avocados
  • Cholula (Chili Garlic) – Fried Rice, Chili, Roasted Chicken, In Salad Dressings, Hummus, Popcorn, Chicken Tenders
  • Sriracha – Salads, Soups, Pizza, Sushi, Hard Boiled Eggs, Slaws, Mixed into Ranch Dressing, Mixed into Ketchup
  • Tapatio – Mixed into Pico de Gallo, Enchiladas, Tacos
  • Valentina – Cocktails, Mixed into Queso, Refried Beans, Breakfast Burritos
  • Frank’s RedHot (Wings Sauce) – Buffalo Chicken Dip, Cobb Salad, Chicken-Fried Steak, Pasta Salad

What are some of your must-have combinations? Any hot sauces you swear by? If it’s as good as you say it is, I guess you’re giving me the go ahead to buy just one more bottle. Right?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes approximately 40 nuggets.

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups habanero hot sauce of your choosing
  • 1 habanero, minced
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 24 oz. vegetable or canola oil

F o r  t h e  L e m o n – L i m e  G o r g o n z o l a  D i p p i n g  S a u c e

  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 1 lemon, juiced & zested
  • 1 lime, juiced & zested
  • 4 oz. Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Put the chicken cubes in the buttermilk and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the dredge ingredients – the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter, and combine it with the hot sauce and minced habanero. Set aside.
  4. Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl, and allow to sit in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  5. To dredge the nuggets, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, roll in the flour, put back in the buttermilk and coat, and then roll in the flour a second time. Repeat for all chicken cubes, placing them in one layer on a large clean plate.
  6. In the meantime, heat the oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Make sure there is about an inch of oil in the skillet, adding more if needed. Heat until you can feel the heat rising off the oil. To test if the oil is ready, put a pinch of flour into the hot oil and see if it begins to bubble and sizzle. If it’s too hot or too cool, adjust the heat.
  7. Once the oil is ready, place the nuggets in the oil with tongs, being sure not to crowd the meat. When you see the chicken is golden brown on the underside, flip the chicken to the other side to finish frying. Remove the cooked chicken and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Once all the chicken nuggets are cooked, toss them in a large bowl with the hot sauce mixture until all nuggets are completely coated with the sauce.
  9. Serve immediately alongside the dipping sauce.

Hankerings’ Caesar Dressing

How do you like your Caesar salad? Are you an extra crouton guy or gal? Dressing on the side? When the waiter comes around, are you insistent on their cranking the pepper mill for an awkwardly long period of time, like me?

I like my topping-to-lettuce proportion to be high – ideally there is barely enough romaine to qualify this as a salad. I’m talking anchovies all over, four-inch-long shavings of parm reg, and a loaf’s worth of croutons on the plate – all coated with a heavy dousing of dressing, a squeeze of lemon and a showering of crushed black peppercorns.

Romaine is the supporting cast in my ideal Caesar salad. It’s there to play host to that medley of saltiness, garlic, briny fish flavor, pepper kick and citric acid.

I want my dressing to incorporate all those yummy add-ons. This dressing does a good job of that.

And because I have vested interest in ensuring your dressing turns out just right, I want to impress upon the importance of using Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. Not just in this salad dressing, but all recipes that require mayo.

If I was running for office, their mayonnaise would be in my policy platform. I’ve never been so disappointed with any substitute ingredient in my life – I’m looking at you, Whole Foods’ 365 organic mayonnaise! There’s something about Hellmann’s that helps you forget that you’re eating room-temperature whipped egg yolks and oil. All you know is you’re eating something rich and delicious.

It would be even better if you made your own mayonnaise. I always trust Alton Brown to reveal the best techniques when it comes to specialty cooking processes, and this recipe makes you feel capable of cooking something you might think is too burdensome or overly-complex.

You need and deserve the good stuff – and from experience, it’s a wise move to buy the biggest container you can find. There’s few foods that need to be bought in bulk, and this is one of them.

If you’re a Cesar salad fanatic like me, there’s a lot you will love in this dressing.

All hail King Ceasar! …salad dressing. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Makes 1 pint dressing.

  • 1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • 1 / 3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons shredded parm reg
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lemon, juiced & zested
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Whir all the ingredients except the black pepper in a food processor until completely pureed. Stir in the cracked black pepper and put into a glass mason jar. The dressing will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Diner-Style Deviled Ham Hash

In this next post of my “no-no” mystery meat recipe series, I wanted to share one of my all-time favorite canned meats – Underwood Deviled Ham.

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If you haven’t had it already, it’s a bit of an acquired taste. Not for me of course – I loved it from day one. But it’s as American as red, white and blue. If you didn’t eat it growing up, my gut tells me you might – with an emphasis on the word might – not like trying it for the first time as an adult.

My boyfriend wasn’t a fan. He said he wouldn’t feed it to the dog.

You have to give this a try. For anyone who is familiar with this delectable max-processed delicacy, or still reading even after this cautious introduction, you’ll soon realize this is the breakfast hash that was missing in your life.

Deviled ham has a similar flavor to Spam, or any sodium-heavy canned meat product you’ll find in the grocery store. I used to eat it straight from the can. The most typical way to serve it is between two slices of mayo-smeared white bread topped with iceberg lettuce – right where it belongs.

I’ll usually keep a few cans of Hormel’s Corned Beef Hash in my pantry. This recipe is a home-cooked variation of the canned hash, using fresh potatoes and swapping out the corned beef for the deviled ham.

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The ham and potatoes go together like peanut butter and jelly. Alongside a couple of sunny side up eggs, this is just what the doctor ordered when you’re craving a greasy, filling diner-style breakfast.

I went to town and back on this. I probably met my sodium quota for the month. I don’t know about you – but if this hash gives me yet another excuse to eat deviled ham, my GP and I are completely on board with that.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 1.

  • 2 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 1 can Underwood Deviled Ham
  • 1 / 3 cup white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onion, potato, pinch of salt and pinch of pepper, cooking on medium heat until the potatoes are near golden and crisp and the onions are near translucent.
  2. Once the hash is almost done, add the deviled ham. Continue to cook the hash so the ham has a chance to crisp up.
  3. Plate the hash and serve hot, with a couple of sunny side up eggs and hot sauce, if desired.