Category Archives: This is Why I'm Fat

Italian Easter Pie

ProciuttoA Lot of EggsPie CrustMozzarellaRicottaPecorino Romano
Cheese & Meat MixEggMeat, Cheese, EggInto the CrustDSC_1030Top Crust
Pizza RusticaSoppresatta

Italian Easter Pie, a set on Flickr.

A traditional Italian Pie served on Easter – also known as Pizza Rustica. They’re all similar in the fact that it’s meat and cheese baked into a crust. The differences lie in the type of meats and cheese used and the crust it’s baked in. This is a simple version that features ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino Romano, soppressata, dry sausage, prosciutto, and is baked in a pie crust. Very tasty, easy, and makes a great addition to the Easter spread.

..Happy Easter..


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French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

So, there’s store-bought vanilla ice cream and there’s this rich, decadent, creamy, custard-y, fresh vanilla bean studded stuff that’s like creamed crack. You definitely won’t find this in a little cardboard container with a quirky name and a cartoon drawing. Sorry to have to do this to you, but this homemade French vanilla bean ice cream will set your ice cream “bar” wayyyyy high. Oh, and it’s French because it’s made with a custard base…which means it’s made with egg yolk…which means it’s better than just milk…which means you need to make this now.

3 Key components before starting:

  1. Ice Cream Maker (I use a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment for the Stand Mixer)
  2. Vanilla Beans
  3. Time and patience
Makes 1QT
Time: Mostly passive time while cream infuses, chills, then freezes. All in all about 20 mins is actually spent getting your hands dirty.

Get yourself:

  • 2 Vanilla beans
  • 1C Whole milk
  • 2C Heavy cream
  • 3/4C sugar
  • 6 Egg yolks (Large)

Printable Recipe

Grab a couple of vanilla beans and split down the length of the pod using a pairing knife

Scrape out the vanilla bean “caviar” using the dull side of the knife

Set caviar aside

Combine milk, sugar, vanilla caviar, and vanilla pods in a heavy bottomed pot

Heat over medium-low flame until wisps of steam begin to rise off of milk

DO NOT BOIL, gracias

Once milk warms, kill flame, cover, and set aside to steep for an hour

After one hour is up, build an ice water bath

Big bowl with ice and water – 2qt glass bowl inside big bowl – sieve on top

Grab your heavy cream

Pour heavy cream into glass bowl so it stays super cold

Go reheat your infused milk mixture in the pot

Same deal, just warm it over medium-low flame

While milk warms, combine egg yolks in bowl

Don’t forget about your milk…

…Temper Time…

Grab a ladle-full of the warmed milk…

Carefully add the warmed milk little by little to the egg yolks while constantly stirring

This is tempering, the goal is the incorporate the milk into the egg yolks without cooking the yolks

…Custard Time…

Add the tempered mixture back to pot and heat over medium flame while…

…CONSTANTLY STIRRING with a rubber spatula

The spatula is good at preventing the custard from sticking to the bottom of the pot

Stir for 10 mins

Stop whining, man up…it’s worth the effort

Once custard is thick enough to coat the spatula without running…

Pour the custard through the sieve

Press the custard through the sieve using spatula

Stir the mixture to combine

This is your ice cream in liquid form

Taste…

Pop the bean pods into the cream, cover, and chill overnight

Once your cream is thoroughly chilled, set up your ice cream maker

Pluck pods out of cream and pour into base of ice cream maker

Begin to process

After about 10-12 minutes it begins to freeze and grow

After ~25mins you’ll have soft serve ice cream…

Taste (eyes roll into back of head)

…one more step before you indulge…

Pour ice cream into a glass bowl and lay Saran wrap on top of the ice cream

Press down lightly to adhere the Saran wrap to the ice cream

Freeze for a few hours

Look at that scoop action!

Make yourself a big bowl and indulge, you deserve it

In mine and wifey’s honest opinion…

…it tastes a bit like creme brulee…

…just throwin’ that out there

Don’t toss those vanilla bean pods!

Rinse, dry, and stick into your sugar for amazing vanilla infused sugar

Bravo

Mozzarella in Carrozza

Leave it to those crazy Italians to take a grilled cheese sandwich and batter it up then deep fry it. Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a carriage) is like a gangsta’ grilled cheese mozzarella stick hybrid sorta thing. You’ve probably seen it on an Italian restaurant menu and you may have even ordered it or its cousin Spiedini di Mozzarella. So…since I’m all about bringing the restaurant experience home…I decided to throw this recipe up so you can do the same…

You feel me?!

Prep time: ~10mins
Cook time: ~10mins

Get yourself:

  • 8 Slices sandwich bread or Italian bread sliced at least 1/4″ thick with crusts trimmed off
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1T Parsley
  • 4T Pecorino-Romano
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 4 Slices block mozzarella sliced thick and about the size of the bread
  • 2 Fresh mozzarella balls
  • 1.5C Plain Panko breadcrumbs
  • .5C Seasoned bread crumb (I use 4C)
  • 1C AP Flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Enough vegetable oil for frying
  • Deep fryer or heavy bottomed pot for frying
  • Tongs
  • Plate lined with paper towels
  • Candy thermometer if you’re not using a deep fryer

Printable Recipe

Ready for this?!

Get the fryer going @ 350F

If you don’t have one…definitely worth the investment..

I’m just throwin’ it out there…

Combine eggs, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl

Beat it up

Should be fluffy with no visible unbroken egg whites

Combine your crumbs

My assembly line

Ford would be proud

Slice up the block and fresh mozz

You can use either or, but I like the combo

Make a cheese sandwich

Block mozzarella goes down first followed by the fresh mozz

Ready to get dunked

Dredge all sides in flour

Tap lightly to get rid of excess flour

Then hit it with the egg and pack on the crumbs

Set aside and repeat with the rest of sandwiches

Drop it in the oil…

That’s a beautiful site…

Dry on a plate lined with paper towels

It’s like the most awesome mozzarella stick ever…

Look at that…

Break into that crust like a molten lava cake…

Let the cheese ooze out…

Dip in a little fresh marinara sauce…

Stare at the other 3 sandwiches fresh out the fryer and debate eating them…

…all

Mangia!!

(Post) Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day Objectives: RELAX and EAT.

…and so we did…all day.

We decided to kick things off with leftover cinnamon rolls from the Pioneer Woman (wifey froze half of the disturbingly delicious cinnamon roll dough from last time). Perfect.

And so the deliberate yet destructive eating began…

Our next venture was Oreo cookies…homemade, super chocolate-y, creamy, straight up milk dunkin’ OREO’s!…yea that’s right I made ’em and even colored the center…pause. Thanks to a little inspiration from Smitten Kitchen, I whipped up a big batch of V-day O’s, all pun intended…

The day turned to night…

We started dinner off with a lite, weight watchers friendly appetizer…

Swiss fondue with homemade bread

Take bread, dip repeatedly in warm, melty, gooey cheese. groan.

Repeat.

Note: Use a fondue pot if you have one. I battled it out with the cheese in this sauce pot for a good 20mins. You see, stainless steel pots heat too quickly and if the cheese gets too hot too fast it seizes up. I had to beat the seize outta my cheese. Here’s the recipe (click the pic to enlarge)…

Needless to say, dinner did not come immediately after. As a matter of fact, we both fell into a deep food coma and woke up an hour later. Of course I get blamed…

“Why’d you let me sleep that long?!”

“I didn’t let you, I was sleeping myself.”

“But, I thought you were cooking dinner?!”

“Are you seriously hungry after we just inhaled a pound of melted cheese and a loaf of bread?!”

“Well, I’m not starving…but we have to eat dinner.”

“We’ll eat later, in the meantime let’s drink.”

Drink of the night….

Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

This seriously tastes like a chocolate covered cherry…got wasted

Get yourself: 2oz Chocolate vodka, 20z Black Cherry vodka, 2oz half and half, 2oz simple syrup, 6t Maraschino cherry juice + 4 cherries, 1T Ghiradelli Double Chocolate-Hot Cocoa mix, Chocolate syrup.

To make: Combine all your liquids into a shaker over ice and shake. Line rim of glass with chocolate syrup. Place cherries at bottom of glass. Pour drink in. Dust top of drink by putting cocoa powder in a sieve and tapping it. Sit down. If standing, grab hold of something stable such as a counter top or banister or such as…drink, enjoy, thank me later.

Okay, now that we’re feelin’ loose…let’s, uh, cook dinner?

Dinner

Sherry Baby Bella’s

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan (s)mashed Potatoes

Porterhouse for Two — Ruth’s Chris style

I wanted some classic sides to go with the 2.5lb hunk of beast I was serving so I thought sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes would be perfect. Then I thought, that’s boring.  So I tweaked them a little and now, lucky me, I can never go back to the classic way because it just pales in comparison.

Sherry Baby Bella’s

These mushrooms are bangin’!

Get yourself: 1 shallot, 5T butter, 2T extra virgin, 6 cloves roasted garlic mash, 2 packages of sliced baby bella’s, 1/4 cup dry sherry cooking wine, salt and cracked black pepper, 1T fresh chopped parsley

To make: In a skillet over medium flame heat up your 3T butter and 1T of oil. When butter foam subsides toss in your roasted garlic mash and stir to break up. Then add your shallots and cook for 5 mins until soft and starting to brown. Now toss in 1T of butter, let it melt, and then add the mushrooms. Toss to coat. Let mushrooms cook down a bit and get nice and soft. Now, raise the flame to high, add in your sherry wine and cook for a few mins scraping bottom of pan to deglaze. Reduce flame to medium and stir all together.Continue to cook mushrooms, they should be shrunken and slightly browned at this point. Add your last T of butter and olive oil. This will create a buttery, and velvety sauce for the mushrooms. Kill the flame. Toss in your parsley. Put the fork down.

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan (s)mashed Potatoes

This recipe yields a batch of (s)mashed potatoes like no other. There’s a hint of roasted garlic and Parmesan and the texture is silky smooth. Roughly mashing the potatoes leaves some chunks of potato and skin which gives the dish  contrasting textures.

Get yourself: 3lbs new baby red potatoes, 1 cup heavy cream, 2T butter, 6-8 cloves roasted garlic mash, 1T extra virgin, 3 handfuls of grated Parmesan, salt&cracked pepper.

First things first, cook your potatoes until fork tender. I like to throw mine in a huge Pyrex bowl, add 1/4 cup of water to the bowl, cover, and heat in microwave for 6-8 mins/lb. They will pierce easily with a fork. Dump any remaining water from the bowl and smash the potatoes.

Leave it chunky (it’ll break down when you stir later). In a large pot heat your butter and roasted garlic mash. When foam subsides on butter add the heavy cream, black pepper and Parmesan. Stir to make saucy. Toss in your potato mash and stir until the potatoes are somewhat creamy and take on a sheen.

I’m warning you may be tempted to eat half before it even gets to the plate!

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…our headliner this evening….

weighing in @ 2.5lb and measuring 2″ thick…

Porterhouse (for 2)

Get yourself: a big slab of Porterhouse beef (I put in a special request at the local butcher), 2T butter, 1T fresh parsley, oven-safe serving platter, s&cracked pepper.

Can’t picture a 2.5lb porterhouse, see for yourself…

To make: All it takes to cook this is a quick sear ea. side over high heat and then it gets finished in the oven. First you will take the meat out at least 15mins before cooking so it gets to room temp. Preheat oven to 450F. Next, liberally salt and pepper the beef.  Heat a cast iron skillet grill pan until smoking hot. Sear the steak on one side for ~3mins then flip. Place 1T of butter on top of beef. Place skillet in middle of oven and check for doneness after 8-10mins. Once beef is done, put 1T butter on oven-safe platter and put under broiler for a few mins (watch that butter doesn’t burn). Take out and sprinkle with parsley.  Then place meat on platter and carve.

Make sure you have your stove exhaust on high bc this steak will hiss and smoke like crazy!

And there you have it…

be VERY careful, the plate is hot!

Texas Gravy

A ubiquitous dish steeped in tradition. Although modern, overcomplicated, and pretentious versions have pervaded kitchens everywhere it’s OK. Why? Well, because Chili is that dish that lends itself perfectly to personalization. It’s a great dish, but like an Italian and Sunday Gravy, chili often becomes the victim of harsh judgment since almost everyone has a chili reference they compare to or certain chili rules like no beans or must use dried whole chili peppers which are first toasted then ground to a powder. This is limiting, but for those like me, chili is an art form open to interpretation so no true version should exist. I mean rules are meant to be broken, right? So let’s stop yearning for the perfect and best of everything and just eat!

With that said…

You will need:

2lbs 85% lean ground beef @ room temp

10 Slices hickory smoked bacon cut in 1/4’s

4 Sweet bell peppers – mixed colors (GYRO)

2 Vidalia Onions – chopped

4 Cloves fresh garlic

4 Cloves roasted garlic mash (~1T)

2T Dried Greek oregano

2t Kosher salt/1t crushed black pepper

1T Rendered duck lard

2T Soy sauce (Don’t forget about the Umami dimension of flavor)

4T Worchestire

1 Lager beer (I used Dos Equis)

1 28oz can diced tomatoes (I used Tuttarusso)

2 Cans Red Kidney beans (optional)

Chili Powder Mix:

4T Chili powder

3T Smoked paprika

1T Ancho chili powder

1T Cocoa chili powder

1T Garlic powder

2T Liquid Smoke

4t Garam Masala (Secret ingredient)

2t Cumin

1.5t Chipotle powder

Let’s Make Some Texas Gravy!

Ok, first things first, heat up that duck fat

Believe me, it’s worth it

Brown your beef. Be careful you don’t kill it

As soon as it’s uniformly brown kill the flame and set aside

Should look like this…Cover, we’ll come back to this in a bit

Bacon baby!

Grab ~10 slices and quarter

Fry in a heavy bottom pot

Preferably in the same pot you’re cooking the chili

Get it going, try to separate the chunks so they cook evenly

Goal is to get nice crispy pieces that will hold up in the chili

Reserve about 2T of that fat for sautéing veggies

Once crisp, toss on paper towels to absorb some oil

Heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat

Toss in your chopped onions

Cook for ~5mins

Add the chopped garlic and roasted garlic mash

Stir to combine

Careful, you don’t wanna you know what…

Dice up your bells

Toss into the onions and garlic, along with the bacon and stir

Grab dos dos equis –  they don’t call it dos for nothing

One for you, one for chili

Dump it in and bring to a boil for ~5mins

Drop to simmer and prep your spice mix

Time to spice things up a bit…

Grab all of your dry spices and herbs

Add to a bowl big enough to stir

Add your ground beef to the pot and then toss in the spices

Mix really well

Where there’s smoke there’s flavor!

Add to pot and stir

Add your tomatoes and stir it all together

A voice in the distance, starting to smell good in here!

Thanks babe

I hope it’s not to spicy for me though

Uhh…sure babe I made it just right no worries…

Ok good, because you know how much I hate spicy

It’s chili for crissakes not a Bolognese!

Cover and let it simmer for ~1hr

Take a peek…

Once I feel it’s done I let it cool and refrigerate overnight

I know you can’t believe I’m not eating it right away, but honestly…

I think it tastes better the next day

When it’s time to serve, heat as much as you want in a sauce pot

Toss in a handful of shredded sharp cheddar and white American (trick I got from craftsteak in NYC)

Stir until melted

I serve my chili with some white rice

Go make some if you’re into that

Fill up an oven-safe bowl or mug and top it with shredded cheddar or your cheese of choice

Put under broiler for ~2mins until browned and bubbly

Some Tostito scoops, dollop of sour cream, sliced pickled jalapeno, onion rings…

Toppings are endless

It’s a little spicy, don’t cry about it you’re eating chili…

Man up!

Enjoy!

effin’ Artisan Bread

It’s snowing outside. Not a flurry, a full on blizzard dumping inch after inch of snow by the hour. In the kitchen there’s another blizzard, my wife is making the PW’s cinnamon rolls. She is very precise with all of her measurements and hates when kitchen stuff is not where it belongs. Thanks to me, nothing is where it belongs. Oops.

“Where’s the teaspoon measuring thingie?!

[Draw slams]

“Uh, I’m pretty sure it’s in that draw you just slammed. Try looking for it again.”

[Rummages thru drawer; sounds of utensils clanking]

“It’s not here, [Puppy dog eyes] can you find it for me?

“But…I’m in the middle of my bread post” [Slams drawer]

“Fine, I’m never cooking again! You make them.”

Did I mention that we’re snowed in? You bet your bottom I went and scoured the kitchen for that measuring spoon.

So…back to the reason you’re reading this. We’re baking bread. I’m talkin’ the kind of round loaf you’d pick up from a corner bakery. Soft yet crispy crust. Chewy and slightly tangy flesh. Flour dusted around your lips after biting into it.  Pull it of the bag, rip a piece off and quickly butter it up while it’s still warm kind. Yea…you know what I’m talkin’ about. If you don’t…well, you will after you make this.

This post is long thorough.

Before you start in…I highly recommend you pick up a baking stone. I prefer the Williams-Sonoma kind, but you can pick up a cheap one from Bed Bath & Beyond  to get the job done. If you absolutely can’t get a stone, we can make this bread Jim Lahey style and dump it in a dutch oven to bake.

This recipe makes a huge batch. You will proof the dough and store the rest in the fridge. You will break off a chunk to bake.

Lastly, the key to a good tasting bread is a long and slow rise. This allows the dough to develop sourdough characteristics. I store my dough in the fridge and the bread I make after the dough has sat for about a week tastes different from the dough I made the second day. Try for yourself.

**This is a master recipe. See DIY section for other loaves made using this MR.

Let’s do this!

Get yourself:

  • 6.5C AP white unbleached flour
  • 1.5T Granulated yeast (Not rapid rise)
  • 1.5T Kosher salt
  • 3.5C Luke-warm water
  • Pizza peel
  • Pizza stone
  • Loaf pan
  • 1C tap water for steam
  • Stand mixer (optional)
  • Large bin for dough storage
  • Digital thermometer (optional)

Inspired by Artisan Bread in 5


Making the Dough

Grab your flour, salt, and yeast

Measure out your water and warm in microwave for ~30secs

Add yeast to water and stir

Should get foamy

Toss your salt into the flour and mix

Slowly add your yeast/water to flour/salt while mixing on slow

Mix until all liquid is incorporated into flour

**If you have some leftover dough in he fridge from a previous

batch then add a few oz to the new batch for extra flavor**

Mix with dough hook to bring everything together

*Remember, you’re not kneading the dough

Just combine until it’s shaggy

**If you don’t have a mixer you can add all ingredients to a mixing

bowl and just stir like crazy to combine with a wooden spoon

(I’ve broken wooden spoons this way)

Dump the shaggy dough into a large container

You’re going to cover (not airtight)

Add a little olive oil to container to prevent sticking

Let rise for 2-5 hrs. After initial rise, store in fridge

If you’re making bread right away…

Let dough rise ~18hrs overnight, then bake

After initial rise, dough should have doubled in size

It’s not Dom P, but it should be bubbly

Cover and store in fridge @ this pt.

Now you’ve made your dough. Pat yourself on the back

You’re halfway to a great loaf of bread

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Baking the Bread

Huge shout-out to my wifey for the photography in this section!

You better friggin’ give me credit for those pictures!

Ahhhh, she’s a sweetheart

Ok, let’s bake some bread!

Cut off a nice size piece of dough

Flour your hands and shape into a ball

Do this by folding the dough over on itself several times

It’s coming together

Have your pizza peel ready. I sprinkle mine with semolina flour

Once ball is formed, flip over and pinch bottom closed

Place dough on board and touch up

Flour ’em up

Moving clockwise, twist the dough with your palms until a nice plump ball forms

Sprinkle with flour

Stone on center rack. Pan on bottom

Preheat to 475F @ least 30mins before baking bread

Cover and let rest for ~30mins

Rested dough

Ready to slash and bake

Using a floured bread knife, slash dough

I went for a +, you can Zoro it if you want…go nuts

Moving QUICKLY, slide dough on stone

Add your tap water to hot pan

This technique creates steam in the oven while the bread bakes

Enhances the quality of the crust and crumb

Set a thermo to 208F

It will take about 35mins to get to this temp

Here’s what you want to look for…

Perfection

Tap the bottom, it should sound hollow

Glamour shots

Mouth watering yet?!

Chewy and airy “Butter me” flesh

Serve it warm. Butter it, dip it in seasoned olive oil, make a sandwich…

That’s a grilled cheese, baby.

I’m convinced Atkins lost his marbles

bc who in their right mind gives this up?!

Good food, Good wine, Good friends…that’s the only rule in this house…

oh and putting stuff back where you found it…

Sesame Cookies

Most people crave chocolate chip cookies at night, me, I got a hankering for friggin’ sesame cookies! The best part, I was fully prepared to make them–I mean, what person has at least 1 cup of sesame seeds on hand at any given time?!? If you never had these, they’re bangin’, eat ’em alone, after dinner with espresso, for breakfast, or, my fave–dunk ’em in coffee! Only three weeks into the new year and already my resolutions are out the window. Oh well, rules are made to be broken and food, well, it’s made to be eaten…and when it’s as good as this, it’s a sin not to indulge.

The cookies turned out great.  Firm,  sweet, buttery, nutty, and a little soft in the center. Also, these are great if you add a little citrus zest. I attempted to zest some clementines, but it didn’t work out to well. If you have an orange on hand zest about 1T and toss it into the cookie dough.

–Recipe Pictorial–

Not the right measuring cup, but I thought this pic came out dope.

Toss your sugars and butter into a mixer fitted with a whisk

Cream

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder-NOT SODA

I’ve made this mistake before…not cool

Mix eggs and vanilla together

Combine…

…until thick and stiff

You would addthe zest @ this pt.

Start to add flour a little at a time

Mixture will form a dough

Plop it out onto a floured surface and fold over onto itself a few times to shape into a ball

You can refrigerate @ this point to firm up

Or, if you’re impatient like me start shaping cookies now

Put sesame seeds into a shallow bowl

Fill a wide mouth mug up with milk

You’re going to break off 1T size balls and shape into little loaves

Dip in milk then roll in sesame seeds

Line on wax paper spaced about 1″

Bake @ 375F for 20-25mins. Bake longer for crispier cookies

Prepare to indulge.

–Ingredients–

3C AP flour

2 sticks of butter softened

3/4C Vanilla or plain sugar

1/4 C Brown sugar

1 1/4t Vanilla extract

3 Eggs beaten

1/4t Kosher salt

2 1/2t Baking powder

1C Milk

1C Sesame seeds

Wax paper to line cookie trays

1T Orange zest (optional)

Makes about 2 Dz