All posts filed under: Building blocks

Compound Butter with Parsley and Lemon (Maitre d’Hotel Butter)

Compound butter is a chef’s best friend, and is one of the secrets of French bistro cuisine. Maitre d’Hotel butter – with a little lemon zest and parsley mixed in – gives bistro food its distinctive character. Maitre d’Hotel butter is versatile. I use it to saute vegetables, baste roast chicken, and season mussels. But the best way to use this butter is to finish a steak. Put a pat on top of a cooked steak, right when it comes off the heat; the butter melts, mingling with the juices and making my all time favorite steak sauce. More on Steak with Maitre d’Hotel butter on Thursday… Compound butter is easy to make, and keeps forever in the freezer; I always make a big batch, and freeze the rest. Then I have frozen assets – ready and waiting for me to shave off a slice when dinner needs a flavor boost. Inspired by dinner at Le Bistro du Beaujolais in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. Looking for bistro French in Northeastern Ohio? It’s worth the drive. Recipe: …

Ten Steps to Rotisserie Grilling

I love my rotisserie. It turns out better roasts than any other method I’ve tried. Get it? Turns? Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week. There is some extra work involved with rotisserie grilling – you can’t just slap the meat on the grill – but it’s worth the effort. Here is my ten step program for your grill’s rotisserie attachment. You’ll need: A grill with a rotisserie attachment (spit, spit forks, motor, and motor mount (which is attached to the rotisserie ring if you bought the Weber kettle rotisserie). Trussing twine (look for heavy butcher’s twine) Heat proof gloves Something to rotisserie. (May I suggest a chicken?) 1. Truss and spit the meat No matter what meat you’re cooking, it needs to be trussed. The rotisserie turns gently, but as the meat cooks, that gentle turning will tear the roast loose if it is not securely tied down. Secure the meat to the spit with the spit forks – push them in there tight. Again, you don’t want anything wobbling around. For …

Blue Moon Smoothie

This recipe is inspired by the Blue Moon smoothie they serve at Mustard Seed Market & Cafe in my hometown of Akron. Every weekend, we have an argument before our big Sunday breakfast – who gets to make the smoothie. That’s not fair! He made it last week! It’s my turn! No, you made it last week! I get to do it now! Sigh. Who wants to make the eggs? Anyone? Anyone? I’m surrounded by smoothie addicts, and they love our new (refurbished) Vitamix. Now, you don’t have to have a Vitamix, BlendTec or other high-powered blender to make smoothies; we made them for years with a collection of Osterizers and KitchenAids. But. Oh, my, the extra power in a Vitamix just makes smoothies easier. Now, I may be biased, becasue I am a Vitamix affiliate…but I’ve seen the kids dump entire bags of frozen fruit into the Vitamix, and the powerful motor breaks things up and keeps them moving.  Did I mention that I’m a Vitamix affiliate? And if you buy one through my …

Espresso Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue sauce is easy to make at home. The basic flavor profile is: 4 parts ketchup 1 part vinegar (usually cider vinegar) 1 part sweetener (molasses, brown sugar, honey, or a mix) spices and seasonings The spices and seasonings are where you can make the sauce your own. Pull out a bottle of your “secret recipe” barbecue sauce, and your friends will think you’re a barbecue savant.  So, what is my secret ingredient? A shot of espresso. Oh, and I add chipotle en adobo to the sauce, for a hint of smoke and heat. Not too much; this is barbecue sauce, not hot sauce. Recipe: Espresso Chipotle Barbecue Sauce Inspired by: Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue Sauces   Notes Storage: I have a little squirt bottle for BBQ sauce, but it only holds a couple of cups. I pour the rest of the sauce back into the ketchup bottle for long term storage. I write “BBQ Sauce” all over it with a sharpie, to try to avoid confusion, but the kids have learned that they need …

Sichuan Roasted Pepper Salt | DadCooksDinner.com

Sichuan Roasted Pepper Salt

I’m trying to lose weight. I start every day with a high protein breakfast – which means lots of hard boiled eggs. They’re quick, easy, portable…and boring. Or, at least, they were boring. Then, one morning, I had enough of boring. I went looking through my pantry, and noticed my jar of Sichuan pepper salt. I use it often when I stir fry, but on eggs? It was a revelation. The flavors in the Sichuan pepper make all the difference – now I look forward to hard boiled eggs every day. When I used up the jar I bought at Penzeys, I decided to make my own, following the extremely simple recipe in Barbara Tropp’s China Moon cookbook. But first – Sichuan pepper? Or Szechuan? Maybe Szechwan? The confusion comes from converting the Chinese pronunciation into English letters. (Kind of like Peking duck coming from Beijing.) Sichuan is the pinyin spelling of the Chinese province. Pinyin was chosen in 1982 as the international standard for converting Chinese characters to English. Before then, the Szechuan spelling …

Homemade Sweet Hot Mustard

The Colman’s mustard people were kind enough to send me a sample of their mustard powder. This is some seriously spicy mustard – the jar of prepared mustard made my nose hair stand at attention. I love it. They also sent a tin of mustard powder. Time to make my son’s favorite condiment – sweet hot mustard.And put him to work making it. The mustard’s not going to whisk itself, is it? After some googling, I found out the recipe was simple – powdered mustard, vinegar, sugar, and eggs. Eggs in mustard? Visions of salmonella danced through my head. Is there enough vinegar to preserve it? I kept searching, and found that eggs are pasteurized instantly at 160°F. That’s also the temperature where eggs thicken, forming a custard. It works out beautifully – when the eggs are hot enough to thicken the mustard, they’re also safe to eat. My next question was, what about storage? How long will this mustard last? Between the vinegar and the mustard powder, bacteria doesn’t stand a chance. The mustard …

Homemade Honey Mustard

Homemade mustard? That’s crazy talk. Why would I make my own mustard? Because it’s there. Because my son is a mustard fiend. And, mainly, because I just bought a Vitamix blender. My new toy needed a test. My oldest son has a serious mustard addiction. I tried to get him involved in making this recipe. It worked – halfway. Help make the mustard? Not interested. He kept trying to sneak away to play with his friends. But then, once the mustard was done blending, he couldn’t wait. He wanted to taste it right away. The overnight resting time to letting the flavors mingle almost killed him. I made a 16 ounce jar, and it is almost empty. It was on every sandwich he made this week, and he talks about how much he loves the mustard “we” made. Recipe: Homemade Honey Mustard Adapted From: Keith Dresser, How To Make Whole Grain Mustard, America’s Test Kitchen “Cooking” time: 1 minute Equipment Blender (I love my Vitamix)   Ingredients 1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds 1/4 cup brown …

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

Homemade chicken stock is kitchen alchemy, turning trash into gold. Take the leftover bones from a roast chicken dinner, add water, and the result is my secret weapon in the kitchen. Stock is the backbone of my soups and pan sauces. I’ve been pressure cooking chicken stock for years; I throw roast chicken carcasses in the pressure cooker pot while cleaning up after dinner. An hour later I’m straining the stock. Quick and easy. My slow cooker is the other way I bend time in the kitchen. Instead of quick and under pressure, there’s long, low and slow. I finally tried slow cooker chicken stock the other day, after reading (yet another) recipe for it in Deborah Schneider’s The Mexican Slow Cooker. After a Sunday roast chicken dinner, I put the chicken bones in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, everything went in the pot before I left for work. When I came home, the smell of chicken filled the house. I tossed the bones, strained the stock, and threw together a pot of chicken noodle …

Pressure Cooker Chicken Stock

Stock is the basis of great cooking. In his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, Michael Ruhlman says that stock is… …the single preparation that might elevate a home cook’s food from decent to spectacular. I absolutely agree. Stock is flavor, pulled out of leftover bones and meat. With homemade stock, you can make pan sauces and gravies that are rich and silky. You can make stews with amazing depth and complexity. And, most important, you have the best base for soup there is. *If you’re making soup, and you don’t start with your own broth, you might as well just use water. When I make chicken stock, I use my pressure cooker. *Chicken stock is my pressure cooker’s “killer app”. I turn to it again and again. Making stock in the pressure cooker is quick, easy, and the results are delicious. I make my chicken stock while I’m cleaning up after dinner. I get it started, then finish the rest of the cleaning. About an hour later, it’s done, …

Blue Cheese Dressing

Vinaigrette week* wraps up on DadCooksDinner with another favorite of mine, Blue Cheese Dressing. A salad with blue cheese dressing goes wonderfully with a nice, juicy steak. And, of course, it’s the traditional accompaniment with Chicken Wings (recipe here). *And yes, I know it’s not Vinaigrette week any more. I made the classic Fencepost Error. I was thinking I needed five dressing recipes, one for each day of the week, but I forgot that the basic technique would take up one day. What really bothers me is that I’m a computer programmer, so I really should know better. I mean, I’m the kind of person who knows what you call that kind of mistake – you’d think I could remember not to make it! Oh, well, you get a bonus dressing out of the deal, so I guess it’s not all bad. Recipe: Blue Cheese Dressing See the Vinaigrette Basic Technique (here) for an overview Ingredients: *For a 10 oz bag romaine lettuce (about 3 quarts) 2 tbsp White Wine Vinegar pinch of salt pinch …

Caesar Salad Dressing

Vinaigrette week continues on DadCooksDinner. Here is the dressing that gets the most requests for the recipe – my Caesar Salad dressing. This is the dressing where I learned the power of the basic formula for vinaigrettes. A few years back, I was staying with my Aunt and Uncle in Chicago, and I was making dinner.* *You don’t cook dinner when you’re staying with your family? No? Hmm. Maybe that’s why my wife gives me strange looks when my first question on vacation is “is there a kitchen where were’ staying?” I’d figured out the variations I could do on my balsamic vinaigrette at that point, and was starting to get a little tired with them. (Also, I had made it the night before.) I wanted to do something different. I vaguely remembered the Caesar Salad dressing I had made, carefully following the directions in Cooks Illustrated, a few weeks before. As I was trying to reconstruct the recipe in my mind, it dawned on me – it’s the same formula! Just substitute lemon juice …

Red Wine Vinaigrette

For Vinaigrette Week: This is a classic French vinaigrette*, made with red wine and Dijon mustard.*Did I mention I took some cooking classes in Provence? And one in Paris? Stop me if I told you this one already… This is my what I make for a quick weeknight salad when I have mild lettuce. Romaine, greenleaf, bibb, or iceberg go well with this. The mustard and vinegar give this dressing some kick, to liven up the neutral flavor of the lettuce. Recipe: Red Wine Mustard VinaigretteSee the Vinaigrette Basic Technique (here) for an overview Showing off my Vinaigrette skills Ingredients:*For a 7oz bag of Romaine Lettuce 1 tbsp red wine vinegar pinch of salt pinch of freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp Dijon mustard 3-4 tbsp (scant 1/4 cup) Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 tsp finely minced shallot (optional) Directions: Easy Way1. Whisk to blend: Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until creamy. OR: Directions: With Finesse1. Dissolve the salt: Whisk the salt, pepper and vinegar in a small bowl until the salt …

Lemon Herb Dressing

This is my new favorite vinaigrette. I love the mediterranean combination of lemon and olive oil. I think it’s the most verstaile dressing I make – it goes well with a wide range of vegetables, from salads, to potatoes, to shredded carrots, to green beans. It’s the dressing for Salad Nicoise, Greek Salad, and Carottes Rapees; all you do is vary the herbs you use. Recipe: Lemon Herb Dressing See the Vinaigrette Basic Technique (here) for an overview Ingredients: *For a pound each of boiled new potatoes and green beans, or a 10 oz bag romaine lettuce (about 3 quarts) Juice of 1 lemon (should be about 2 to 3 tbsp) 1 tsp lemon zest (from the lemon you just juiced) 1 tsp sugar pinch of salt pinch of freshly ground black pepper 1 medium garlic clove, minced 6 tbsp (1/3 cup plus a little) Extra Virgin Olive Oil Herbs: 1 tbsp, minced, of any combination of the following: Parsley Thyme Basil Oregano Directions: Easy Way 1. Whisk to blend: Whisk all the ingredients in …

Balsamic Vinaigrette

For Vinaigrette Week: here is the first vinaigrette I learned as a technique as opposed to a recipe. It’s still my favorite – the balsamic vinegar gives it a hint of sweetness that I really like. I was at a cooking class given by Fat Cats, a local restaurant. The chef did the recipes, while one of the owners kept up a running commentary. They had a good act – It was very entertaining. But, more importantly, I learned two things. The first is, this is just a technique – as long as you know the basics, you can do endless variations. They used Fig Balsamic vinegar, but it was fine if you couldn’t find it; just get good balsamic vinegar. The second is that exact measuring doesn’t matter – close enough is good enough, as long as you taste afterwards to adjust if you need it.I remember something like “Add a half a cup of olive oil. (Glug-glug sound as he pours from the bottle.) OK, that’s close enough. (Whisks madly, then dips his …

Basic Technique: Vinaigrette

This was probably the technique that made me a food snob. Once I learned it, I was ruined. Why anyone spends money on store-bought salad dressing, which tastes of nothing but the stabilizers they put in it, is beyond me.*Death to store-bought salad dressing! Who’s with me! Chaaaaarge! All you need is some good vinegar, some oil, and a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Whisk these together, and you’ve got vinaigrette! Michael Ruhlman’s new book, Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, has the perfect recipe: 3 parts oil: 1 part vinegar That’s it! See? You never need to buy salad dressing again.No, really, I mean it. Put down the bottle of “Lite Italian”. Have you read the ingredients list on that thing? It should say: Oil. Vinegar. Spices. What is xanthan gum, and why is it in my salad dressing? I’ve got the recipes to prove it; you’ll be getting them for the rest of the week. The important part is the ratio, and the following technique.And, as …

Homemade Barbecue Rub

I use this homemade barbecue rub on anything I want to have a barbecue flavor. Sure, barbecue sauce is nice, but the rub is where the flavor is. Now, If I was a real barbecue pitmaster, I would have to guard this recipe with my life.* *You know – the old Keyser Soze routine: “If I told you, I’d have to kill you. And your family. And everone who’s ever met you. By the time I’m done, they’ll have to post signs off the coastline, warning people away from the continent you live on for the next thousand years.” But I’m not a real pitmaster. And, as you can probably tell, I can’t keep my mouth shut when it comes to food. I gave away containers of this rub as christmas presents to friends and family, so if they want to refill they’ll need the recipe. Recipe: Homemade Barbecue Rub     Notes This rub is best on chicken, pork or fish. I use about 1-2 tsp per pound, but I usually just sprinkle it …

Turkey Stock done right

Recipe: Ruhlman’s Turkey Stock Done Right(via: Ruhlman.com) Equipment: 12 quart stock pot (or the largest pot you have that you can fit in your oven.) I have this: All-Clad Stainless 12-Quart Multi CookerAnd I want this: All-Clad Stainless-Steel Stockpot – 16 quart Aromatics! Ingredients: Carcass from one turkey, broken into pieces that will fit in your pot 6 quarts cold water (or more to cover) 1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and halved 1 celery rib, cut in half (optional) 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in half (optional) 3 cloves garlic, skin on, crushed (optional) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp whole black peppercorns 1 bay leaf 1 sprig fresh thyme 1 half a bunch of parsley stems (optional – skipped, since I didn’t have them) Turkey! Directions:1. Turn oven to 180*F (or as close as you can get it, if your oven doesn’t go that low). 2. Put carcass in pot, and add the cold water – you want to cover the carcass by 1″ 3. Put pot on high heat, bring to a bare simmer, …