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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
Home country: Canada
Current location: Toronto, Ontario
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 03:34 PM
Number of posts: 2,919

Journal Archives

Tex Mex Restaurant-Style "Mexican" Rice Recipe

This recipe will be familiar to anyone who's frequented any kind of Tex Mex restaurant. That reddish-coloured rice you get on the side of the plate (usually microwaved) next to your enchiladas or burrito, and usually pretty dry. It's actually pretty easy to make at home, though it does require a few extra steps! Mostly, you need to make a sofrito, which is a pureed blend of tomato, onion, garlic, and chilis. Cook that down and add it to the rice that you're cooking, and it will infuse the rice with a lot of flavour as well as the familiar colour.

We made this recipe in a rice maker, and it came out really well, but you can make this with whatever method you usually use to prepare rice. We definitely recommend rinsing your rice for this recipe, as it will make the final product much nicer, and keep the grains from sticking together.

Cheese Straws Recipe

After we made puff pastry for last week's video, we needed to use it up! So this week we're doing a video about these easy and delicious cheese straws. Once again, you can use store bough puff for this as well, it will work just the same as the homemade blitz. Really, you can personalize everything about the flavour profile for this recipe, and it mostly comes down to what kind of cheese you want to use. For the inside, you want to use a nice melty cheese like a monterey jack or similar. We had found a lovely truffle jack cheese that worked extremely well in this recipe. For the outside, any kind of hard cheese you would typically use as parmesan. We had a little bit of Beemster XO, which is an aged Dutch gouda that has dried out and grates very much like parmesan. I would recommend grating your own, and not using the powdered parmesan cheese you buy in a tube.

Blitz Puff Pastry Recipe

Feels weird to be talking about food at a time like this, but here we are! Over the holidays we did some food experiments, including beef wellington. We didn't do a video on the wellington because it was our first stab at it, and we learned some things. So, that will likely be a future video (it did turn out really well). But we also made our own puff pastry, so that's what this video will be about!

This is kind of a cheater recipe for puff. It's not as finicky as regular puff, and is a bit more forgiving overall. It still takes a lot of work, and a lot of rolling/folding/resting, but the end result does come out flaky and delicious. The biggest struggle we had in this was keeping the dough hydrated, it seems like our flour was quite dry. Don't be afraid to add a little water in between the layers (just wet your hand and give it a light coating before folding) and then let it hydrate while it's resting. Also, you need to start this the day before, because it does need to rest overnight before you use it.

Banana Bread Recipe

Just about everyone has some overripe bananas that they've shoved into their freezer because it would be a waste to throw them away, and "Hey, I could always make banana bread." Well, today is the day to make banana bread! This is a wonderful recipe, and makes a moist but still light banana bread that is full of flavour. We like to do some stir-ins, because the buttery toffee adds richness and the dark chocolate chips add a nice contrast to the overall sweetness of the dish.

You definitely don't want this batter to sit around before baking, or you won't get the loft. Just make sure it's barely combined, and that your oven is already preheated, and your baking trays are already buttered and floured and ready to go so you can get it from the mixer into the oven right away.

Vietnamese Restaurant Style Lemongrass Porkchop Recipe

So, we didn't do a holiday recipe just before Christmas, but we did do this amazing (and pretty easy) pork chop recipe that you can get at just about any Vietnamese place around our area. The usual restaurant presentation of this dish is with rice and a bit of a salad or slaw, topped with a sunny-side-up egg with a crispy edge. The flavour profile is primarily the lemongrass and the garlic, and because it's a pounded cutlet, it cooks super fast. You want to use a good high heat in your cast iron for a short time so that it gets a good sear, and it will cook through really quickly.

We like to use the flat bottom of a good heavy skillet to pound out the cutlets, because it gives you more surface area to work with when you're pounding, and you won't have to worry about spreading your mallet around. It makes things super nice and quick when you're doing the pounding.

Creamy Succotash Recipe

Here's a nice idea for a delicious and colourful holiday side dish if you're tired of the usual! Succotash is primarily a sweet corn dish that includes either lima beans or other shell beans or green beans. We also add tomato and okra to ours, which is not super traditional but is common. The bright colours and flavours of the dish really perk up any dinner plate, especially if you have a lot of beige food going on, like turkey and mashed potatoes!

This recipe can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon, or vegan by omitting both the bacon and the cream. Lard, butter, or bacon grease are most commonly used for this dish, but you could get away with a nice olive oil if you wanted to make this vegan.

TexMex Style Tamale Recipe

So, my hubby (the chef!) comes from Texas, and this is the sort of restaurant-style tamales that he would get growing up in the Houston area. There are a lot of Latin American and Caribbean cultures that do a version of tamales, but these are going to be very similar to the type that were widely available around the holidays in Texas. It can be a bit of a cottage industry, where you can buy a bunch of tamales for the holidays from your co-worker, made by their family.

The filling we use for this is our chili, which uses big chunks of beef chuck. Because the chili cooks for so long, the beef is extremely tender and shreds easily to use as the filling. Tamales can also be stuffed with chilis, cheese, or vegetables, whatever you'd like. For the masa, we used bacon grease (because we had some on hand and it adds that nice bacony flavour), but you can also use lard or shortening to make the masa dough to wrap the filling in.

Easy Mixed Vegetable Tempura Recipe

We recently got out hands on some really lovely fresh Japanese ingredients from a Japanese shop local to us. Our recent tune tartare video was made from the sushi-grade tuna we got there, and this week, we're including these amazing fresh shiso leaves in our mixed tempura. This is a really simple recipe, but is a little technical. You really do need to keep the temperature of the batter down as cold as you can, so keep your bowl in an ice bath, and use ice water when you're mixing it.

This is not a fried food like most North American fried foods. You're not looking for a dark golden brown outside, you're really just trying to get the veggies cooked well enough to eat and until the batter is nice and crispy and light. Different items will take different amounts of time, depending on how big they are, and their moisture content. The shiso leaves took just about 15 seconds in the oil before they were done (and they were delicious). The kabocha squash took a little longer, because it's denser, and has a lower moisture content. Of course you can add your favourite veggies to this recipe, and some other favourites are broccoli, yam, zucchini, eggplant, or carrot.

Old Fashioned Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

More holiday baking! This recipe is based on the old Toll House recipe that used to be on the back of the package of chips. The recipe changed years ago to be easier to measure and scale, but the cookies weren't as nice! This one is adapted from the earlier recipe, and we've just added some toffee chips. If you can find the Skor branded toffee chips, I definitely recommend them, 'cause they're amazing buttery toffee. If you can't, you can just break up any kind of nice hard toffee.

Snickerdoodle Cookie Recipe

The time for holiday baking is coming, and we realized we hadn't done many cookie videos. We don't eat a lot of sweets or anything, because neither of us have much of a sweet tooth, but we do still like the occasional treat like homemade cookies. Snickerdoodles are sort of an old school recipe, but they are really delicious. They've got a slight sour tang to them from the use of tartaric acid (or cream of tartar) as part of the leavening. You can usually find this ingredient at any grocery store either in the herbs/spices rack or in the "baking needs" aisle.

A couple of important notes: Don't overmix the dough, as this will leave your cookies kind of tough. Don't let it sit too long once it has been mixed. You'll want to get it wrapped up and into the fridge pretty quickly because the baking powder will interact with the cream of tartar and reduce the amount of rise you get. Don't handle the dough too much when it's warm. You'll want to get it nice and chilled in the fridge before you start rolling it into balls and rolling them in the cinnamon sugar. Also, you can very easily add other spices into the sugar mixture, like clove/nutmeg/ginger, to make these into pumpkin spice Snickerdoodles.

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