<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago Food and Drink, Nightlife, Bars, and Restaurants]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/the-scene/food-drink http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 07 Jul 2015 19:18:46 -0500 Tue, 07 Jul 2015 19:18:46 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Sous Vide Steaks, Potatoes]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 21:50:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-sous-vide-steak.jpg

One of the popular products coming out of this year’s recent Consumer Electronics Show and Housewares Show is affordable sous vide cooking devices for the home chef.

Sous Vide, which is actually French for "under vacuum," is the process of circulating temperature controlled warm water around food items that have been placed in vacuumed sealed plastic. The goal of the process is to cook meats, seafood, vegetables, eggs and other items evenly, making sure that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside.

The method also insures that items retain their moisture.

As an example, if you’re goal is a medium rare steak, you can place one in a sealed bag and float it in a sous vide system until its "through and through" temperature reaches 130 degrees fahrenheit. And, because the temperature is regulated, you can continue to leave it in the bath beyond initial cooked item because its internal temperature will never rise above the set time of the sous vide device. A steak (or any item) ready at a certain time can be served many hours later without a loss of taste or doneness.

The following steak recipe takes advantage of a sous vide system’s basic features. But, I have also experimented with salmon and Chilean sea bass, and had positive results across the board.

Sous Vide Strip Steaks
with Baked Potatoes and Portobello Shallot Sauce
makes 2 servings

Ingredients

2 Strip Steaks, about 12 ounces each
2 lg Garlic Cloves, peeled smashed and minced
6-8 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
3 tbl Olive Oil
1/4 cu Shallots, minced
4 oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cu Beef Stock
2 tsp Dijon Mushroom
Additional Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 lg Baking Potatoes
1 tbl Butter, optional, for the potatoes

Method

Prepare your sous vide system by preheating water to 130 degrees F for medium rare steaks.

Dry the strip steaks well with a paper towel and place them on a work surface. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Spread garlic on one surface and place half of the thyme sprigs on top. Place steaks in separate sealable bags squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. Place steaks in sous vide system for a minimum of two hours.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub potatoes with a bit of olive oil and then sprinkle salt and pepper on all surfaces. Wrap each in aluminum foil and place them directly on the middle rack of your oven for about 50-60 minutes, timing them to finish cooking about 10 minutes after you remove the steaks.

When ready to serve, remove steaks from the water bath. Preheat a cast iron skillet or heavy saucepan with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Remove steaks from plastic bags and pat them dry. Sear each side in the hot pan for about 45-60 seconds per side. Remove steaks and cover with aluminum. Reduce heat in the saucepan and add shallots and mushrooms to the pan. Sauté until mushrooms are tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with beef stock and increase heat. Stir in Dijon mustard and bring to a boil. Stir until sauce thickens and reduces by half.

Place a steak and a potato on a serving plate. Slice open the potato and top with butter (optional), Put half of the mushroom sauce over the potato and to the side of the steak. Serve immediately.

Resources

The device I experimented with during this segment is the Anova Precision Cooker. It’s a bluetooth enabled system allowing its app to work seamless with a mobile device, thereby enabling control over temperature and the countdown timer for the many different recipes stored in the app. There’s an extensive list of recipes for a variety of meats, seafood, vegetables and sauces. This device, (with its free app), retails for about $179.00.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.


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<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Braised Short Ribs For Passover]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:00:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-short-ribs.jpg

My friend and former boss, Gerry Miller, from my Leo Burnett Company days, challenged me to create a meal appropriate for Passover. So, I did a little research on appropriate ingredients and created my version of braised short ribs with hasselback potatoes. The braising liquid is a flavorful combination of rosemary, kosher red wine, pomegranate juice and tomato paste. The sauce made from its reduction is rich and savory and adds a nice finish to the short ribs, potatoes and sautéed vegetables.

Short Ribs With Hasselback “Accordian” Potatoes
makes 6 Servings

Ingredients

Braised Short Ribs

2 tbl Olive Oil
5 1/2 lb Bone In Short Ribs
1/2 cu Matzo Meal
2 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 tsp Pepper
1 lg Onion
2 lg Carrots
2 lg Celery Stalks
1 1/2 cu Kosher Red Wine
3 tbl Tomato Paste
3 cu Beef Stock, plus possibly 1 to 2 cups more to add to braising liquid
1 cu Pomegranate Juice
2 Rosemary Stalks

Sautéed Vegetables

1 tbl Olive Oil
6 oz Pearl Onions, peeled*
3 lg Carrots, medium sliced on an angle
8 oz Babby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cu Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish

Hasselback “Accordion” Potatoes

6 med Red Potatoes
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tbl Fresh Rosemary, very finely minced
1 1/2 tbl Olive Oil

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix matzo meal, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a bowl and set aside. Rinse the short ribs in cold water and then squeeze each in a paper towel to dry the surface. Roll each short rib in the matzo mixture and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive in a large dutch oven over high heat.  Working in batches, sear the short ribs for about 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove them from the pan and set them aside.  Add onions and carrots to the dutch oven and toss in the oil to coat.  Sauté for about 2 minutes and stir in celery.  Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of red wine, scraping the bottom to loosen all cooked bits.  Add tomato paste, beef stock and pomegranate juice.  Stir to combine and bring mixture to a simmer.  Place short ribs on top of mixture (do not submerge them) and cover with a tight fitting lid or aluminum foil (the tigher the seal, the better).  Put dutch oven on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 3 1/2 hours.  Check the braising process after 2 hours.  If liquid is low, heat 1-2 cups of beef stock in a small saucepan and add it to the pot.

While short ribs are braising, prepare the potatoes.  Slice about 1/8” along the flattest surface of each potato to create a bottom.  Place the potato on a cutting board and make multiple cross cuts as close to each other as possible,  each stopping about 1/2” before slicing all the way through.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.  Place potatoes on a  baking sheet and season with salt and rosemary.  Drizzle olive oil over the top.  Place potatoes in the oven along with the short ribs about 45 minutes before short ribs are done.  They will take about 55-60 minutes to roast.

After short ribs have braised for 3 1/2 hours, carefully remove them from the dutch oven cover with aluminum.  Strain the liquid from the dutch oven into fat separator or large bowl.  Discard the braising vegetables.  Skim off the excess fat and pour the liquid into a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook the sauce down until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile, sauté pearl onions, carrots and mushrooms in a large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until just tender, about 7 minutes.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of the sauce reduction into the vegetables and toss to coat.

Remove potatoes from the oven after 55-60 minutes total baking time.

Place a potato on each serving plate or bowl. Divide short ribs among the plates. Arrange the sautéed vegetables on the side and pour the sauce reduction over the potatoes and short ribs. Garnish with parsley and serve.

*Peeling pearl onions - an easy way to peel pearl onions is to trim off the root end of each onion and drop them into slated boiling water for about 1 1/2 minutes. Then trasnfer them to an ice bath until cool. Pinch from the end opposite the root end and the peel should slide off.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Is Corned Beef Irish? ]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:43:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/31515+Corn+Beef+recipe+edited.jpg

 

The “Irish” tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day actually started more than 4,000 miles away in America.

 

“Growing up we never had corned beef,” said Billy Lawless, owner of The Gage gastropub. “Traditional Ireland it’s more boiled bacon."

Originally from Galway, Ireland, Lawless and his father opened the Irish restaurant on Michigan Avenue almost eight years ago.

The tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage started when the Irish immigrated to the U.S in the 19th century. Pork was the preferred meat, but it was too expensive in the states.

Famine drove hundreds of thousands of people to move from Ireland to America in the 1800s.

“A lot of the Irish settled near Jewish neighborhoods. I guess that’s really where corned beef became a staple of the American Irish," Lawless said.

The corned beef and cabbage tradition eventually found its way to Ireland as an American tourist must-have.

St. Patrick’s Day was originally a religious holiday to honor the island’s patron saint. The drinking and party reputation first started in the U.S. The pubs in Ireland were actually closed until the 1970s.

Ireland didn’t pioneer St. Patrick’s Day parades either. The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York in the mid-1700s.



Photo Credit: Jessie Sawyer/NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne’s Weekend: Irish Pasties]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:21:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-Irish-Pasties.jpg

Last week, as part one of my St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I shared recipes for corned beef and cabbage sliders and an Irish stout cheese spread. This week I’m adding Irish pasties, hearty meat and veggie filled hand pies. I am also sharing my Irish stew and banoffee pie recipes from a few years ago. Links to all past recipes are at the bottom of this page.

Irish Pasties Hand Pies
makes 8 pies

Dough

3 1/4 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
4 oz Cream Cheese, torn into small pieces
6 tbl Cold Butter, cubed
1 lg Egg
1/2 cu Water
1 tsp White Vinegar

Filling

1 1/4 lb Top Round, cubed into small 1/2” pieces
1 tbl Olive Oil
1 1/2 cu Onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cu Carrots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cu Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Fresh Oregano
2 tbl Irish Whiskey
3 tbl Sour Cream
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbl Dijon Mustard
1 lg Egg, slightly beaten

Method

Make the dough: Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter and cream cheese with a pasty cutter or two forks until mixture resemble coarse meal. Add in egg, water and vinegar and work mixture until it forms a dough. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board and knead for about 5 minutes, working in additional flour if dough is a bit sticky. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Create the filling: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are tender. Increase heat to medium and add top round. Sauté until beef is browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and oregano, and stir. Add carrots and potatoes and continue to sauté for an additional 10 minutes. Add whiskey and stir until liquid cooks down. Add sour cream, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon. Stir until mixture ingredients are well incorporated and remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool and then divide into eight equal portions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Removed dough from refrigerator and divide it into 8 equal portions. Cover unused portions with a towel. With each portion of dough, roll it out to about a 7” square. Place 1/8 of the filling in the middle third of the dough, leaving about 1/2” uncovered on the sides. You can simply lay the top and bottom thirds over the filling or, pull the top and bottom thirds up and seal the ends together. Then flatten the sealed ends over the filling. Turn the pastie over and push the filling toward the center of the pie flattening the ends. Trim the ends to create straight edges and then use a fork to crimp them closed. Place pastie on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Bruch pasties with egg wash. With a sharp knife, create 2-3 small slits in the top of each pie to release steam and then bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

RELATED LINKS

Irish Celebration 2015 Part I:
Irish Stout Cheese Spread and Corned Beef and Cabbage Sliders

Irish Stew and Banoffee Pie Recipes from a previous Wayne’s Weeekend Segment:
Wayne’s Weekend Irish Recipes



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Corned Beef Sliders]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 07:26:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-corned-beef-slider.jpg

For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I’m creating a buffet of easy to eat items. This week I have corned beef sliders on homemade potato bread rolls and an Irish stout cheese spread that’s great with vegetables, crackers and smoked salmon. I’ll be adding more to the mix next week, so check back for the second part of the menu.

Irish Corned Beef And Cabbage Sliders
makes about 24 sliders

Ingredients

1 med Potato, about 3/4 lb, peeled and cubed
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
2 tbl All Purpose Flour
2 tbl Brown Sugar
1/4 cu Warm Water, about 110 Degrees F
2 tbl Dijon Mustard
2 lg Eggs
1/2 cu Warm Milk
1/2 cu Butter, 8 tablespoons, melted
5 1/2 - 6 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tbl Olive Oil
1 1/2 lb Corned Beef, sliced
Stone Ground Mustard
Red Cabbage Slaw (recipe below)

Method

Place potatoes in a medium pot. Fill with water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the water. Mash potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Set aside.

Place yeast, 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the 1/4 cup of warm water. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes.

Place 5 1/2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of the melted butter, dijon mustard, eggs, milk, mashed potatoes, and the 1/2 cup of reserved water from boiling the potatoes. Sir together and mix in yeast mixture. Work in as much as another 1/2 cup of flour or more until mixture is smooth and not sticky. Roll onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes. Pour olive oil into a large bowl. Add dough and turn it until all surfaces are covered with oil. Cover bowl with a towel and set it aside for an hour until dough doubles in bulk.

Punch down dough and divide it in half. Working each half separately, divide dough into 12 small balls. Place on a baking sheet evenly spaced apart from each other. Repeat with second batch of dough. Cover with a towel and let dough rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the tops of the balls with half of the remaining melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with remaining butter. Allow rolls to cool.

To make sliders, slice rolls and spread each half with a bit of stone ground mustard. Top with a slice of corned beef and red cabbage slaw.

Red Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients

6 cu Red Cabbage, finely shredded
3/4 cu Yellow Onion, finely minced
3 tbl Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 cu Sour Cream
3 tsp Dijon Mustard
3 tsp Horsradish
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

Method

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your preference. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Irish Stout Spread
makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

7 oz Irish Cheddar Cheese, grated
2 oz Cream Cheese
2 tbl Butter
2 tbl Dijon Mustard
1 tbl Sour Cream
1/4 cu Irish Stout, like Guinness
1/4 cu Yellow Onions, finely minced
1 Clove Garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tbl Fresh Parsley, Chopped
2 tbl Fresh Chives, chopped

Method

Place all ingredients except the parsley and chives in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer ingredients to a large bowl and stir in parsley and chives. Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers.

Smoked Salmon Option

Cut slices of dark rye or pumpernickel into smaller bite sized pieces (I used a small circle cookie cutter). Spread each with stout spread and then top with a bit of smoked salmon, minced shallots and chopped fresh dill.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Barbecued Beef Ramen Noodles]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:29:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-bbq-beef-ramen.jpg

Ramen noodles have come a long way from the packaged versions I enjoyed back in my college days. Since those versions contain quite a bit of sodium, I researched the basic ramen noodle to see if I could make my own from scratch. The key ingredient is kansui, a liquid product that is potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate. This gives the noodles that familiar texture and elasticity that is different from regular pasta noodles. Kansui is available in most asian markets or online. Once i had the basic noodle, creating an interesting topping was the fun part. This “Texas Beef Broil” combines beef with barbecue sauce, soy, cayenne peppers and shiitake mushrooms. It’s a big burst of flavors.

Ramen Noodes
4 servings (if you want to give your guests lots of noodles, double this recipe)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tbl Wheat Gluten
1 tsp Salt
2/3 cu Warm Water
1 tbl Kansui (potassium bicarbonate & sodium bicarbonate)

1 tbl Cornstarch mixed with 3 tbl All Purpose Flour, for dusting and drying pasta

Method

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour kansui into water and then pour both into flour mixture. Work the dough until it comes together. Roll it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for about 5 minutes, incorporating a bit more flour. Wrap dough in plastic and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

After dough has rested, work with 1/2 at a time, keeping the remainder wrapped in plastic. Using a pasta maker, flatten dough to about 3 settings shy of the thinnest setting. Then using the noodle attachment, run the dough through to create your noodles. Place them on a work surface and toss them with a bit of the flour/cornstarch mixture so they don’t stick together. Set aside.

Texas Beef Broil Ramen
makes 4 servings

Ingredients

Beef Top Round, 3/4lb to 1lb size, about 1” thick
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 tbl Soy Sauce
2 tbl Barbecue Sauce, brand of your choice
1 tbl Olive Oil
1 tsp Sesame Oil
4 oz Shiitake Mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
1 med Red Onion, sliced
2-3 Long Red Cayenne Peppers, sliced in half or 3” pieces
3 cu Chicken or Beef Stock
1/4 cu Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
2 Scallions, chopped
1 tsp Toasted Sesame
1 Carrot, cut into long curls using a potato peeler (or simiply julienned)
1 Lime, cut half in thin slices and cut the other half into 4 wedges
2 Soft Boiled Eggs, optional, for garnish*

Method

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the ramen. Preheat your broiler. Put salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic on a work surface and chopped ingredients together with a sharp knife. Spread mixture on both sides of the top round. Broil for 6 minutes per side for rare. Broilers vary greatly by oven, so you may have to adjust this time. Mix together barbecue sauce and soy sauce. Remove top round from broiler and brush with a thin layer of the barbecue sauce mixture. Reserve the remaining sauce. Cover beef with aluminum and set aside. Heat sesame oil and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and toss until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add serranos and toss for 1 minute. Add thin lime slices, carrot curls, chicken stock and remaining barbecue sauce, increase heat to high, and bring mixture just to a boil. Add parsley and taste for seasoning. Meanwhile, boil ramen for 2-3 minutes. Drain and divide among 4 serving bowls. Divide sautéed vegetables and the stock mixture among 4 bowls. Arrange carrots, peppers and mushrooms on top. Thinly slice steak and divide among bowls. Sprinkle with toasted sesame and scallions. Garnish with half of a soft boiled egg and lime slices.

*To make soft boiled eggs, place eggs in a pot with room temperature water. Bring to a boil over hight heat. Once pot reaches a boil, remove from heat and cover for exactly 6 minutes. Drain and run cold water over eggs to stop the cooking process. Peel and slice. Use one half with each serving.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Mardi Gras Crawfish Bread]]> Thu, 12 Feb 2015 09:00:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-mardis-Gras-bread.jpg

Mardi Gras is always a fun celebration of food and drink and there a number of traditional New Orleans dishes that folks enjoy. A good friend an Louisiana native, Dave Baricos, suggested crawfish bread as a new item to add to my party. I loved the idea but decided to give the traditional recipe a bit of a twist. Rather than preparing it in a sliced baguette, I created my own bread and “braided” it over the creamy and cheesy crawfish filling. It’s a tasty alternative and so far has gotten good reviews. I’ve also included my king cake recipe and a traditional hurricane cocktail recipe. Enjoy!

Crawfish Bread
makes two 12” long woven breads

Ingredients

bread dough (makes two loaves)

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1 1/3 cu Warm Water, about 110 degrees
1 tbl Brown Sugar
4 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Olive Oil, plus additional to oil bowl for proofing

Filling

2 tbl Butter
1 1/2 cu Onions
1 cu Celery
1 cu Green Pepper
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Creole Seasoning
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 lb Precooked Crawfish Tails, rinsed and drained
2 tbl Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tbl Creole Mustard
1/4 cu Heavy Cream
1/4 cu Green Onions, sliced
1/4 cu Flat Leaf Parsley, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cu Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
2 cu cu Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 lg Egg, beaten


Method

Mix yeast with the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour. Add 1/3 cup of the warm water. Stir to combine. Add olive oil and let rest for 10 minutes. Separately, mix remaining flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and remaining water and combine into a dough. If dough is dry and not coming together, add water, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time until its fully combined. Knead dough for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board.

Pour an additional 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl for proofing. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat all surfaces. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour until doubled in bulk. Punch down, divide in half. Work each half separately.

To make the crawfish filling, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add onions, green pepper and celery and sauté until ingredients begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, oregano, creole seasoning and cayenned pepper. Stir to combine. Increase heat to medium and add crawfish, hot sauce and mustard. Sauté until any extra liquid from the crawfish has cooked away. Stir in hot sauce and creole mustard. Once fully incorporated, add cream and parsley. Sauté until most of the moisture has cooked away, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Stir in cheddar cheese and 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out each half of dough on a lightly floured board to roughly a 12” square. Transfer to a sheet of parchment. Cut 1” wide strips 3 1/2” long down opposing sides of the dough. Place half of the filling down the center of the dough. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Pull each end up and over about a 1” portion of the filling.

Starting at one end, pull the strips up and across the filling, alternating form one side to the other so that strips looked weaved. Tuck the ends of the final strips under the loaf. Transfer the loaf and parchment to a baking shee. Brush the entire surface of the loaf with the beaten egg. Repeat with second loaf.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface is golden brown. Remove from oven and let loaf rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Mardi Gras Braided King Cake
makes 1 braided cake

Ingredients

Dough

1/2 cu Water 105-110 degrees F
1 pkg Active Dry yeast
2 tbl Sugar
2 tbl All Purpose Flour
4 tbl Butter
4 tbl Cream Cheese
1/4 cu Skim Milk
3 1/2 - 4 cu Flour (plus extra for kneading)
2 lg Eggs, slightly beaten, room temperature
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon

Filling

1 tbl Cinnamon
1/2 cu Sugar
3 tbl Butter, melted

Icing

2 cu Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 tbl Skim Milk

Colored Sugars

1 1/2 cu Sugar
3 Sealable Plastic Bags or Containers
12 Drops Yellow Food Coloring
12 Drops Green Food Coloring
10 Drops Red Food Coloring
6 Drops Blue Food Coloring
1" Plastic Baby Toy (optional, can be found at party supply stores in baby shower accessories)

Method

Place yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium sized bowl and stir to combine. Be sure that water is between 105 and 110 degrees F and pour it over mixture. Stir to combine and set aside for 10 minutes.

Mix butter, cream cheese and milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Stir and mash the cream cheese until all ingredients are smooth and blended together. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Mixture should be cool to room temperature before using.

Combine 3 cups of flour, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add eggs, yeast mixture and cooled butter mixture. Stir to combine. Add additional flour until mixture is tacky but not sticky (you may add as much a 1 full cup). Knead dough for about 10 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth. Form dough into a ball.

Butter the bottom and sides of a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and roll it in butter on all sides. Cover with a towel and let dough rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down and then roll it out on a large work surface to form a 20" x 14" rectangle. Cut the rectangle into 3 equal sized long rectangles 20" by about 4 2/3" . Brush the surface with the 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Combine 1 tablespoon of cinnamon with 1/2 cup of sugar. Sprinkle about a 2" wide line of the mixture down the entire length of each strip along one side. Starting on the sugar coated edge, roll each strip into a 20" long tube. Pinch the seams to seal the tube along the length. Laying the three tubes side by side with the seams on the bottom, braid them together. Shape the braided piece into a circle on a baking sheet and pinch together the beginning and end of each tube to form a continuous braid. Cover with a towel and let dough rise for an additional 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough has risen, bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and cake has a hollow sound when you thump it. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Once the cake has cooled, push the plastic baby into the bottom (optional).

To make colored sugars, please 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in each of three sealable plastic bags (or containers). Add 12 drops of yellow food coloring in one bag. Seal the bag and shake vigorously to evenly color the sugar, being sure to break up any clumps with your fingers. Repeat the process with a second bag using 12 drops of green food coloring. With the last bag, combine 10 drops of red and 6 drops of blue food coloring to create purple. Set sugars aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Mixture should be pourable but not runny (a bit thicker than syrup). If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar. Place cooled cake on a wire rack over parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, drizzle and liberally brush the icing on all sides of the cake. Use all of the icing, even though some with drip onto the parchment. Immediately sprinkle sugars over icing in alternating rows of green, yellow and purple.

Hurricane Cocktail
Makes 1 cocktail


Ingredients

2 1/2 oz Dark Rum

2 1/2 oz Light Rum
4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Splash of Grenadine
1 thin slice each Lemon, Orange and Lime
1 Maraschino Cherry
Tall Straws, optional

Method

Fill a hurricane glass or tall glass with ice and a slice of orange, lemon and lime. Set aside. Pour rums, passion fruit, lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice and grenadine into a shaker with crushed ice. Vigorously shake for about a minute. Strain mixture into hurricane glass, add a straw, top with cherry and serve.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Chocolate Valentine Ravioli]]> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:00:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-Valentine-Ravioli-1.jpg

Strawberries and chocolate seem to by synonymous with Valentine’s Day. So, as a twist to this traditional combination, I’ve created a strawberry cream filled chocolate ravioli and a creamy strawberry sauce topping. It’s a decadent little treat and will make a tasty end to a Valentine’s Day celebration. The ravioli and strawberry sauce can both be made well in advance. Final preparation takes just minutes so you can enjoy them anytime.

Valentine Ravioli with Strawberry Sauce (makes about 32)

Pasta

  • 1 cu Semillonia Flour
  • 1 1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
  • 2 lg Eggs
  • 2 lg Egg Whites
  • 1/2 cu Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tbl Vegetable Oil
  • 1/3 cu Water
  • Strawberry Sauce
  • 1 pint Fresh Strawberries, hulled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cu Sugar
  • 1 tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbl Grand Marnier

Filling

  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 4 oz Mascarpone Cheese
  • 2 tbl Strawbeerry Sauce (from this recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cu Powdered Sugar


Additional Materials

  • Pasta Maker
  • Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter (about 2 3/4” wide)
  • Fresh Mint, optional, for garnish
  • Additional Whole Strawberries, optional, for garnish

Method

Make the pasta dough. Sift together semolina, all purpose flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Separately, whisk together eggs, egg whites, vegetable oil and water. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and gradually stir in wet ingredients. Work mixture until a dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for about five minutes. Wrap dough in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for at least an hour.

Make the strawberry sauce. Place strawberries, sugar, Grand Marnier and lemon juice in a pot over a medium high heat and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook mixture for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for about 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Strain sauce through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Pour into a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use. Tip: if you have an immersion blender, blend the mixture once while it is boiling, then again in a blender after it has cooled. It creates a bit more sauce.

Make the filling. Cream together cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Stir in strawberry sauce. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

To make the ravioli, work with 1/4 of the dough at a time (keep remaining dough covered in plastic). Flatten dough into a rectangle and run it through the pasta maker at its widest setting. Fold dough into thirds onto itself and run it through the pasta maker again. Lower the setting and run it through again. Continue lowering the setting until you're 2-3 settings above the lowest setting. You should have a rectangular sheet of pasta about 5 1/2" wide x 26" long. Lay the sheet flat on your work surface. Imagine a line down the middle of the pasta length wise creating two long rectangles. Place 1 1/2 teaspoon sized dollops in the middle of the lower half, about 3" apart from each other. You should have 8 dollops on the pasta. Using a pastry brush, moisten the area around each dollop. Gently fold the top half over the dollop half matching the outer edges. Using your fingers create a seal around each dollop pushing out excess air and flatten all areas away from the filling. Using the heart cutter, cut out heats around each sealed dollop. Place heart shaped raviolis in a single layer (not touching) on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. At this point, raviolis are ready to cook. If you aren't cooking them right away, place the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once the raviolis are frozen, place them in either a plastic bag or sealable container and return them to the freezer until ready to use.

To cook pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place pasta in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes if pasta is fresh or 5 minutes if pasta is frozen. Remove from water with a strainer and drain. Place on a tea towel or paper towel to remove excess moisture. Place on a serving plate and top with strawberry sauce. You can also decorate the plate with sliced fresh strawberries, a bit of sauce and fresh mint. If you want an even richer dessert, you can sauté the ravioli in a bit of butter after removing them from the water before plating.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Seafood Creole and Beer Brat Empanadas]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:22:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWShrimpCreole.JPG

If you’re planning on having folks over for the big game, here are two hearty dishes that can be made in advance so that you can enjoy the game, too.  By using a crockpot, the seafood creole can be prepped and started about 5 1/2 hours before you’re ready to serve.  The empanadas can made early in the day and simply reheated or served at room temperature.

Crockpot Seafood Creole
makes about 10 cups of creole

Ingredients

1/2 cu Vegetable Oil
1/2 cu All Purpose flour
2 lb Easy Peel Shrimp (deveined with the shell still on)
1 lg Onion, diced, yielding 2 cups
1 lg Green Pepper, diced, yielding 1 cup
2 lg Celery Stalks, diced, yielding 1 cup
4 cloves Garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
1 lg can Petite Tomatoes, 28 oz size
1 tbl Tomato Paste
1/2 cu Red Wine
1/4 cu Cider Vinegar
1 tbl Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 tbl Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1 1/2 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cu Flat Leaf Parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 lb Okra (optional), trimmed and sliced into disks
2-3 cu Cooked White Rice
2 Scallions, sliced for garnish

Method

This is a “pseudo crockpot” dish because it does take a bit of prep time before ingredients go into the slow cooker.  So, plan on starting prep work about 5 1/2 hours before you are planning to serve it.

Make the roux.  A well prepared roux is essential to this dish and it should not be rushed.  It will take about an hour to make it properly.  Pour vegetable oil in to a large saucepan over medium low heat.  Once oil is hot, gradually stir in flour.  Then, continue to stir as mixture turns from a pale white to a deep caramel brown, but not a deep chocolate color.  If mixture is bubbling or scorching, then reduce the heat. 

After an hour, increase heat to medium and add onions, green peppers an celery.  Stir mixture for about 5 minutes and add garlic. Continue to stir for an additional 5 minutes until ingredients are tender.  Transfer mixture to the crockpot.

Peel shrimp and reserve shells.  Roughly chop shrimp (optional - you can keep them whole if you like) and place them in a covered container.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Place shrimp shells in a large pot and add 1 1/2 cups of water.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Cover pot once it reaches a boil and remove it from the heat.  Let it steep for 10 minutes.  Then, strain the mixture and reserve the liquid.  Pour the liquid into crockpot and discard the shells.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, vinegar, worcestershire, Louisiana hot sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, mustard and cayenne pepper to the crockpot.  Set crockpot to low and let it cook for 4 hours.  While the mixture is cooking, prepare your rice. 

About 10 minutes before ready to serve, stir in parsley and okra (optional).  After 5 minutes add shrimp.  Once shrimp is pink and firm, about 3-5 minutes, the creole is ready. 

Ladle creole into bowls or mugs.  Top with a scoop of rice and garnish with scallions.

Beer Brat Empanadas
makes eight 6” empanadas

Ingredients

dough

3 1/4 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
4 oz Cream Cheese, torn into small pieces
6 tbl Cold Butter, cubed
1 lg Egg
1/2 cu Water
1 tsp White Vinegar

filling

4 Brats
1/2 tbl Olive Oil
1 bottle Beer
8 Thinly sliced Provolone Cheese Slices
8 tsp Spicy Mustard
1 lg Onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tbl Butter
1 lg Egg, beaten

Method

Make the dough: Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.  Cut in butter and cream cheese with a pasty cutter or two forks until mixture resemble coarse meal.  Add in egg, water and vinegar and work mixture until it forms a dough.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured board and knead for about 5 minutes, working in additional flour if dough is a bit sticky.  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium hight heat.  Add brats and sauté for about 5 minutes until browned on all sides.  Reduce heat to medium low and add beer.  Cover and let the brats simmer in the beer for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  Once cool, slice each brat into about 10 pieces.  

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat.  Add onions and sauté, stirring often, until they are tender and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Be sure not to let them burn.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove dough from the refrigerator.  Cut off about 1/3 of the dough and return the remainder to the refrigerator.  Roll dough to about 1/4” thickness.  Using a 6” pasty cutter or a similar sized saucer and a sharp knife, cut circles from the dough.  Return scraps to the refrigerator with remaining dough.

With each dough circle, slice provolone in half then place both halves in the center of the dough reforming a circle but with about a 1/2 “ gap between them.  Place a teaspoon of mustard on one of the slices.  Cover mustard with 4-5 brat slices.  Place 1/8 of the sautéed onions on the other provolone slice.  Brush the edge of the dough with egg and fold the onion side over the brat side to form a half moon and seal the filling.  Using a fork, press the edges together.  Dip the fork in a bit of flour if it is sticking to the dough.  Place empanada on a lined baking sheet and brush it with egg.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake empanadas for 25-30 minutes or until they are a light golden brown.  Remove from oven and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Empanadas can be served warm or at room temperature. 

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Dumpling Mashup]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 09:31:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWCrossCultureDumplings.jpg

One man's dumpling is another man's gyoza, pierogi, ravioli, pot sticker, or samosa, just to name a few.  Dumplings are a part of many different cultures and vary by shape, ingredients, preparation and sauces.  Rather than focus on one specific culture, I thought it would be fun to do a little mashup of different cultures with a combination dumpling and a variety of ethnic dipping sauces from different.  This dumpling can be sealed as a half moon, like a pierogi, or pleated at the top like a gyoza.  You can buy a number of jarred sauces, like hoisin, sweet chili or sweet and sour.  You can also add some homemade sauces to the mix, like the marina and cilantro mint recipes below.   If you’re a little more adventurous with the dumpling preparation, you can cut the dough into squares and make tortellini or ravioli or shape them into little purses.  The possibilities are endless. 

Combination Dumpling
makes about 42-45 half moon dumplings with 4” circular pastry cutter

Ingredients

Dumplings

2 cu All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
4 Egg Yolks
2 tbl Olive Oil
1/2 cu Water

Filling

1 Russet Potato about 3/4 lb, peeled and cubed
2 tbl Butter
1 sm Onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb Ground Chicken
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 med Cabbage (about 1/2 lb), finely shredded
1/4 lb Baby Portobello Mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cu Cider Vinegar
1/2 cu Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Useful Tools

Pasta Machine
Wax Paper or Parchment Paper
4" Circular Pastry Cutter

Method

To make the dough, place 2 cups of flour in a large bowl and stir in salt.  Stir in eggs followed by olive oil and water.  Bring mixture together to form a dough and transfer to a lightly floured board.  Knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes working in additional flour, if necessary, until dough is no longer sticky.  Wrap dough in plastic and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

To make the filling, place potato in a pot with enough water to cover.  Bring water to a boil and boil for 20 minutes.  Drain potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl.  Mash until smooth and set asdie

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté for about 5-7 minutes or until onions are tender.  Add chicken and cook, breaking the chicken down into small pieces, until chicken is opaque.  Add salt and pepper and stir to combine.  Add cabbage and mushrooms and gently stir until cabbage softens and breaks down, about 5-7 minutes.  Add vinegar and stir until mixture has reduced in volume and all of the liquid has cooked away, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a strainer.  Press out any excess moisture.  Add cheese and cabbage mixture to the potatoes and stir to fully combine.  Cover mixture and set aside.

Cut the dough into 3-4 equal parts.  Keep unused parts covered in plastic.  Lightly flour a work surface.  Roll out each piece to about the thickness of a postcard (if you’re using a pasta maker, roll it to the second or third to the last setting.  Cut the dough into disks using a 4” circular pastry cutter.  Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each disk and moisten the edge with water using a pastry brush.  Pull one side over the filling and press into the moistened edge, forming a half moon.  Squeeze out an excess air and fully seal the dumpling around the filling.  Place on lightly floured wax paper or parchment, don’t overlap them.  Repeat with remaining dough.  You can cook these dumplings at this point or allow them to air dry for about 1-2 hours and then freeze them.

To serve, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add two teaspoons of salt.  At the same time, melt and lightly brown about 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat.  Reduce heat further to its lowest setting.   Place dumplings in the boiling water.  Boil for about 3 minutes (if dumplings are frozen, add about 2 more minutes).  The dumplings should be floating on top.  Removed with a slotted spoon drain well.  Transfer to the saucepan with brown butter and increase the heat.  Sauté for about a minute or so until dumplings are lightly browned.  Transfer to a serving platter with dipping sauces.

Dipping Sauces

Some great jarred dipping sauces to enjoy with these dumplings are hoisin, sweet and sour, and sweet chili.  For some homemade options, try this marinara and a cilantro mint sauce.

Marinara Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

1 tbl Olive Oil
1 med Onion, finely chopped
1 Celery Stalk, finely minced
2 cloves Garlic, peeled smashed and minced
2 Can Peeled Plum Tomatoes
1/2 cu Red Wine
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Oregano

Method

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat.  Add onions and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes until onions are tender and translucent.  Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a blender and blend until smooth.  Transfer tomatoes to saucepan along with red wine, salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Place entire mixture in the blender and blend until smoother.  Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.  This dipping sauce can be served hot or at room temperature.

Cilantro Mint Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 cu Sour Cream
1 bunch Cilantro, rinsed and dried, stems removed, about 2 cups
2 cu Fresh Mint Leaves
1 1/2 tbl Fresh Lemon Juice
1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
pinch Sugar
1/4 cu Water

Method

Place sour cream, cilantro, mint, lemon juice, jalapeño, salt and pepper in a food processor.  Blend until mixture is fully incorporated and then slowly pour in water through the feed tube.   Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Stephanie Izard's Super Bowl Snacks]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:46:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cheesy-crab-dip.jpg

Quick Pork Sausage Stew

2 Tbsp. Canola Oil
2 Lbs. sausage (out of casings)
4 Slices thick cut bacon, cut into strips
1/4 Cup garlic
1 Red pepper, seeded and julienne
2 Cups Fennel
2 Cups sweet onion
1/4 Cup Brandy
2 Quarts Chicken Stock
2 Cups canned tomato (no juice)
2 Cans White Beans (rinsed)
Peppers, chips, sour cream, herbs for garnish

Heat a large cast iron pot over medium-high heat.
Add oil.
Add in sausage and bacon, brown them and break into bite-sized bits.
Once browned, remove meat with slotted spoon and set aside, leaving fat in pan.
Turn heat to medium low and add in garlic, onion, fennel and red onion.
Season with salt. Stir.
Sweat until onions are translucent and vegetables are wilted -- about eight minutes.
Add in brandy and reduce au sec.
Add in chicken stock and canned tomato.
Bring to a boil then reduce to summer for 35 minutes.
Add in white beans and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot with garnishes.



Cheesy Crab Dip

1 Pound cream cheese, softened
3/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 1/4 Cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 Head roasted garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp harissa (You may buy jarred or substitute 2 tsps sambal)
2 Tsp fish sauce
1/2 Pound lump crab meat, picked through
2 Tsp Worcestershire
2 Tsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
2 Tsp lemon juice
1/4 Cup chopped green onions
Crackers

Add cream cheese to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Whip until somewhat fluffy.
Add all other ingredients except the green onions and crackers, and mix until well combined.
You can refrigerate for up to three days at this point.
When you're ready to serve, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Place the dip in a heat-proof dish and cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling on top.
Garnish the dip with green onions and serve with crackers.

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<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Vegetable Lasagna]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:02:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWVegetableLasagna.jpg

Lasagna is a great comfort food.  Layers of pasta stuffed with a bolognese, béchamel and cheeses make a hearty meal all by itself.  This recipe uses a vegetable bolognese to lighten it up just a bit and a big crunchy salad on the side would be a nice compliement.

Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

Vegetable Bolognese
makes about 5 cups

1 1/2 tbl Olive Oil
1 med Yellow Onion, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, peeled smashed and minced
2 Celery Stalks, split and finely diced
2 lg Carrots, trimmed and finely diced
2 med Zucchini, trimmed and diced
2 med Squash, trimmed and diced
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tbl Tomato Paste
1 cu Red Wine
1 can Petite Tomatoes, 28 oz size

Béchamel Sauce
makes about 3 cups

1/4 lb Butter (1 stick), cubed
1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
3 cu Whole Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Cheeses

8oz Shredded Mozzarella
1 1/4 cu Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cu Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese

Additional Ingredients and Tools

1 lb package Lasagna Noodles
9”x13” Baking Dish
1/4 cu Freshly Chopped Parsley, for garnish

Method

Make the Vegetable Bolognese.  Pour olive oil into a large saucepan over medium low heat.  Add onions and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add celery and carrots and continue to sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook for about 6 minutes until onions are tender and translucent.  Add zucchini, squash, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Stir to combine and continue to sauté for an additional 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, red wine and canned tomatoes and stir to combine.  Increase the heat to medium high and, while stirring regularly, sauté for about 30 minutes until the moisture has cook off and the mixture is relatively dry.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Make the Béchamel Sauce.  Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until just melted.  Stir in flour until fully blended.  Continue to stir until mixture starts to reach a golden brown.  Be carefull not to let it burn.  Slowly whisk in whole milk, a little at at time, until it is fully incorporated and there are no lumps.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Continue stirring until mixture reaches the consistency of a thick gravy, about 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare the Pasta.  Prepare pasta noodles according to package directions but place them in a large container of ice water as you remove them from the pot.  Once cooled, drain the noodles and place them individually on parchment or wax paper so that they don’t stick together.  Dab or brush off any excess liquid.

Assemble the Lasagna.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the lasagna pan on your work surface.  Using the back of a spoon, squeeze out any excess liquid from the bolognese and pour it into the bottom of the pan.  For a 9” x 13” baking pan you’ll get five layers of pasta and four layers of filling.  To begin, place a layer of pasta on the bottom of the pan with the noodles overlapping each other.  Using kitchen shears, trim the noodles for a tight fit in the pan and cut smaller pieces to cover any gaps or spaces if necessary.  Spread 1/4 of the bolognese over the noodles.  Spread about 1/5 of the béchamel over the bolognese.  Sprinkle about 1/4 of the shredded parmesan and about 1/5 of the mozzarella on top.  Add another layer of pasta and repeat the process.  After you’ve added the fourth layer of filling, add another layer of pasta being sure to completely cover the top of the pan.  Spread the remaining 1/5 of the béchamel on top.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/5 mozzarella over the béchamel.  Lastly, sprinkle the 1/4 cup of grated parmesan on top of everything.

Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes until lasagna is cooked through and cheese on top has melted and is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let the lasagna sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  Sprinkle a bit of parsley on individual servings.  The lasagna layers actually hold together better if you bake the dish the day before, let it cool and refrigerate it.  Then, reheat it and slice into individual portions.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Hearty Vegetable Stew And Cornbread Whoopie Pies]]> Sun, 11 Jan 2015 14:34:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWVegetableStew.jpg

When it’s cold outside, there’s nothing better than a hearty bowl of stew to warm you up.  This all vegetable version is big on taste and loaded with healthy ingredients.  It’s also versatile enough for you to customize it with any combination of different vegetables you might like to add.  The cheddar and mascarpone cheese filled jalapeño cornbread whoopie pies are an added treat to this dish.  They are great with the filling, but the little disks are also pretty tasty as is.  So, if you want a lighter meal, enjoy the cornbread without the filling.

Hearty Vegetable Stew
makes 3 quarts of stew

1 lb Fresh Tomatoes
1 1/2 tbl Olive Oil
1 lg Yellow Onion, chopped
3 med Carrots, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced at an angle, about 1 1/2 cups
3 Celery Stalks, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced at an angle, about 1 cup
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled, smashed and minced
4 oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
3 tbl Tomato Paste
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 cu Red Wine
2 cu Vegetable Stock
1 cu Water
2 lb Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1” pieces
1 lg Yellow Squash, cubed, about 1 cup
1 can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz Fresh Spinach
1/4 cu Parsley, chopped, for garnish

Method

Peel the tomatoes by first bringing a medium pot of water to a boil.  Using a sharp knife, score an “X” across the bottom of the tomatoes, just below the skin, and place them one at a time in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds.  Remove tomatoes from the water and set them aside to cool.  The skins should already be peeling away from the tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium to medium-low heat.  Add onions and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add carrots and celery and sauté for 4 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring often. 

Peel skin away from tomatoes and roughly chop them.  Add the chopped tomatoes to the stockpot along with the tomato paste, oregano, salt, pepper, vegetable stock, wine and water.  Increase heat and bring mixture to a boil.  Add potatoes, squash, cannellini beans and black beans.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Add spinach and stir until leaves have wilted and they are incorporated into the stew.   Remove stew from heat and ladle into individual bowls.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies
makes 10-12 whoopee pies

Ingredients
   
2 tbl Butter, softened
3 tbl cu Sour Cream
1 1/2 tbl Granulated Sugar
1 lg Egg
3 tbl buttermilk
1 tbl jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cu Yellow Cornmeal
1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsp Salt
1/4 cu Whole Kernel Corn, rinsed and drained

Filling

4 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1 cu Finely Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 tbl Sour Cream
1 tbl Buttermilk

Additional materials

20 cup whoopie pie baking pan
Cooking Spray
2 teaspoon size mini ice cream scoop (optional)

Method

Place baking pan in the middle rack of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.

In a medium sized bowl, cream together melted butter, sour cream and sugar.  Add egg, buttermilk and jalapeños and mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and corn.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

Open oven door and slide out the rack with the baking pan.  Spray pan with cooking spray and then quickly but carefully scoop a scant 2 teaspoons of batter into each cup of the baking pan.  Don’t overfill the cups.  You may have a bit left over. 

Slide rack back into the oven and bake for about 8 minutes or until the disks are a light golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  If you did have leftover batter, remove the finished cornbread and refill the pan with the remaining batter and bake.

These cornbread disks are great "as is" for a side to go with any soup or chili.  But, if you’d like to make them into formal whoopie pies, then mix all four filling ingredients into a small bowl.  Transfer the mixture to a sealable disposable bag.  Cut a medium sized hole in a corner of the bag and then pipe a portion of the filing onto the bottom side of one of the disks.  Take a second disk and press its bottom side into the filling.  Repeat with remaining disks.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Holiday Beef Wellington]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 07:39:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/BeufEnCrouteMadiera.JPG

For my big holiday dinner this year I wanted to do something a little different than the more traditional ham or turkey.  So, I created my own version of Beouf en Croute Madeira, or Beef Wellington.  Wrapping puff pasty around a beef tenderloin makes an impressive presentation.  And, the complex flavors in the mushroom filling and madeira sauce truly make this a special main course.  Other dishes that complete my holiday dinner include a curried butternut squash soup, brussels sprouts with turkey bacon and pearl onions, a carrot and potato puree, and an apple peach cobbler.  You can find all of the recipes are below.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Shrimp

makes 4 servings, double the recipe for a larger dinner
collaborative recipe with friends Sara McGhie and Diane Goodman

Ingredients

Soup

3 tbl Butter
2 tbl Olive Oil
1 Leek, mostly white, split, washed well and sliced
1 med Onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves Garlic, smashed and chopped
1 tsp Salt
1 tbl Curry Powder
1 tsp Coriander
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Ground Red Pepper
1 1/2 lb Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
3/4 lb Cauliflower, roughly chopped
zest of one Orange
1 1/2 cu Fresh Orange Juice
2 1/2 cu Vegetable Stock

Shrimp

3/4 lb med shrimp, peeled leave tails on 8
1 1/2 tbl Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Curry Powder
1/4 tsp Tumeric
1/4 Salt
1/4 Pepper

Garnish (optional)

1 Baguette
2 tbl Fresh Chives, chopped
4 Thin Lemon Slices

Method

Heat butter and olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks, onions, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, translucent, but not browning, about 10 minutes.  Add curry powder, coriander, pepper, cumin and red pepper.  Stir mixture for about a minute.  Add squash, cauliflower, orange zest, orange juice, and vegetable stock. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Remove pot from heat and use either an immersion blender or countertop blender to blend until smooth.  If you're using a countertop blender, BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE HOT MIXTURE.  Blend in small batches.  If your blender top has an insert, remove the insert and cover the opening in the top with a towel to allow steam to release but avoid splattering hot soup on you or your kitchen.  Put soup back in stockpot. Check the consistency and flavor of the soup. If it is too thick, add a little water or vegetable stock. Add additional seasoning if necessary.

To prepare shrimp, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes until it is hot. 

Separately, rinse shrimp in cold water and dry them really well with paper towels.  Mix together olive oil, chili powder, curry, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper.  Toss shrimp in the mixture to coat well.

Open oven and slide out rack with the hot baking sheet.  Put shrimp on the baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes, turning them once to get color on both sides.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.  Set aside the shrimp that have tails and roughly chop the remainder.

Slice the baguette at an extreme angle to create long slices.  Toast the slices under the broiler in your oven.

To serve, divide chopped shrimp among 4 serving bowls.  Pour soup over shrimp pieces.  Top soup with one of the toasted baguette slices.  Place the tail-on shrimp on top and sprinkle chives over it.  Then garnish the bowl with lemon wedges.  You can also put a pinch of curry in the center of the soup (optional).  Encourage your guests to squeeze the lemon into the soup before eating.

Beouf en Croute Madeira

beef tenderloin wrapped puff pastry
6-8 servings

Ingredients

2 lb Beef Tenderloin
Butchers Twine
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 lb Baby Portobello Mushrooms, finely chopped
2 tbl Butter
3 tbl Olive Oil
1/2 cu Shallots, minced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Leek, mostly white portion, split, rinsed and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, finely minced
2 tsp Dry Mustard
1/4 cu Bourbon
1/4 cu Whipping Cream
1/4 lb Prosciutto, thinly sliced
2 sheets Phyllo Dough
1 sheet Puff Pastry
1 Egg, beaten

Method

Using the butchers twine, tie a loop around the tenderloin in 4 places to help it keep its shape while searing.  Season tenderloin with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat in a large saucepan.  Once hot, sear the tenderloin on all sides, about 1 minute per side.  Remove from heat and allow to fully cool.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add mushroom and sauté for about 4 minutes.  Add shallots, garlic and leeks and continue to stir for an additional 5-6 minutes as mushrooms release all of their moisture.  Add thyme, rosemary and dry mustard and continue to stir for an additional 3 minutes.  Adjust heat so that mixture doesn’t burn.  Once most of the moisture has cook out, add bourbon and madeira.  Stir for an additional 3 minutes until mixture is dry again.  Finally, add cream and stir for an additional 4 minutes.  Mixture should once again be dry.  Remove from heat an allow to cool.  Place both beef and mushroom and beef in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on a work surface large enough for 2 pieces of phyllo dough to be placed side by side.  Lay one sheet of phyllo dough on the plastic.  Place the second along the long side of the first but overlapping it by about 2”-3”.  Layer prosciutto over phyllo dough.  Spread chilled mushroom mixture over the whole surface of the phyllo dough, leaving about a 1” margin on all sides.  Cut the twine from the chilled tenderloin on one end of the phyllo dough.  Using the plastic wrap underneath, roll the phyllo dough and mushroom mixture around the tenderloin.  Fold in the sides of the phyllo and then keep everything tightly wrapped in the plastic.  Place the roll in the refrigerator.

Unfold the puff pasty on a lightly floured board.  Use a rolling pin, roll it out to about a 12” square.  Trim away about 2” from a long side.  You’ll use this for decoration.  Remove the plastic from the phyllo dough wrapped tenderloin and place it along a long end of the puff pastry.  Roll the puff pastry around the tenderloin.  Place the roll seam side down and fold in the ends to seal the tenderloin inside.  Brush the surface with the beaten egg.

Using the excess dough, cut strips or shapes to decorate the surface of the puff pastry.  Brush a bit of egg onto the puff pasty and then apply the cutout.  Brush the entire surface one more time with the egg. Slice a few 1” slits into the surface of the roll to allow steam to escape during baking.  Refrigerate the roll one last time for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.   Place tenderloin on a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 135 degrees F for medium rare.  Having a thermometer is key to correctly getting your desired level of doneness. 

Remove the tenderloin from the heat and allow it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with madeira sauce (recipe follows).

Madeira Sauce
makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

3/4 cu Shallots, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, finely minced
2 tbl Butter
2 tbl All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cu Beef Broth
1 tbl Bourbon
1 tbl Dijon
1/3 cup Madeira wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Method

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic and stir frequently until shallots are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add rosemary and stir for an additional minute.  Stir in flour until fully incorporated.  Slowly whisk in beef broth and then add bourbon, Dijon wine.  Continue stirring until fully combined and mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  If sauce is too thick, you can thin it with additional beef broth or water. 

Potato Carrot Puree

Ingredients

3 Russet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 lb Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tbl Brown Sugar
4 tbl Butter
1 tbl Horseradish
1/4 cu Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Method

Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with water to at least an inch over the potatoes.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add carrots and sauté for 8 minutes, being careful not to let the carrots burn.   Add brown sugar and continue to sauté for an additional 4 minutes.  Remove and transfer carrots to a food processor.  Blend until carrots are smooth and set aside.

Drain potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and milk and blend with a hand mixer until butter has melted.  Add in horseradish and carrots and continue blending until smooth.  Add salt and pepper.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions

Ingredients

1 1/4 lb Brussels Sprouts
1/2 lb Pearl Onions
2 tbl Butter
2 tbl Olive Oil
10 slices Turkey Bacon, cooked and chopped
1/4 cu Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Method

Peel the pearl onions by dropping them into boiling water for 2 minutes and then transferring them to a bowl of ice water for about 3 minutes.  Trim of the ends and peel away the outer skin.  Set them aside.

Trim the ends off of brussels sprouts and split them in half lengthwise.  Set aside.  Remove the outer skin from the pearl onions and trim the ends as well.  Heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add Brussels sprouts and sauté for about 2 minutes.  Add onions and sauté both for an additional 3 until both begin to char a bit.  Add bacon and chicken stock.  Reduce heat to a  low simmer and cover for 4-5 minutes until Brussels sprouts and onions are tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

Apple Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

Pie Crust

2 1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
3/4 cu Margarine (12 tablespoons), diced and cold
6 oz Cream Cheese, diced and cold

Cobbler Filling

2 cans sliced peaches (15.25 oz. size)
2 lb Granny Smith Apples, peeled & sliced in wedges similar to the canned peaches
7 tbl Margarine
1 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 cu Brown Sugar
2 tsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Additional granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to sprinkle on crusts

Method

Prepare crusts.  Combine flour, margarine and cream cheese and mix together with your hands, breaking margarine and cream cheese down into smaller bits.  Continue blending until the flour has been incorporated and dough holds together.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.   Roll each into a ball and flatten slightly.   Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Remove one dough package from the refrigerator and roll it out on a floured board to about a 14” square.  Transfer to an 8” x 8” baking dish.  Round the excess dough into a thick border around the edge of the dish.  Using your index finger on one hand and your thumb and index finger on the other, form ridges in the border.  Using a fork, make random holes in the crust.  Lightly sprinkle the crust with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Because this is a delicate and soft dough, I place two sheets of aluminum crisscrossing each other in the bottom and up the sides of the pan against the crust.  Pressed into the dough, this will keep the crust from sliding down the dish during the initial baking process. Bake crust in the oven until lightly brown (about 12 to 15 minutes). Remove from oven and remove aluminum.  Allow to cool.

In the meantime, drain the peaches.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of the liquid into a small bowl.  Discard the remainder.  Add cornstarch and stir until fully incorporated.  Set aside.  In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of margarine over medium high heat.  Add apples and granulated sugar.  Sauté until apples are tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.  Add peaches, brown sugar, and dissolved cornstarch.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons of margarine, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and the vanilla. Continue to simmer until mixture thickens, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.  Pour into prepared crust.

Roll out second crust into a rectangle 9” x 12”. Cut 1/2" strips 9” long, yielding about 22-24 strips. Starting on one corner of your cobbler, lay one strip vertically across and lay a second one perpendicular to the first. Continue laying strips in an alternating pattern interlacing them with the previous strips to form a latticework top. Tuck the edges up against the ridges of the bottom crust. Sprinkle the top with granulated sugar cinnamon, and nutmeg. Dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine cut into small pieces. Place on the center rack of your oven and bake until the crust is golden, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson
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<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Holiday Gifts From The Kitchen]]> Thu, 11 Dec 2014 13:52:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWBaconBananaBread.JPG

I think people love getting homemade gifts from the kitchen.  These treats let someone know you’ve taken extra time to create something special just for them.  Over the years I’ve shared a number of recipes that are perfect for creating holiday gifts.  Some of my past favorites and listed below.  But, this year, I’m also adding bacon bourbon banana bread mini loaves and peanut brittle.  The latter is an adaptation of one of my aunt’s recipes.  It’s a simple recipe with only a few ingredients, but the brittle turns out great.  You can even substitute cashews for the peanuts for a tasty variation.  For packaging of your homemade goodies, there are a number of craft and housewares stores that feature an assortment of colorful holiday food containers.  So, once you’ve created your treats, you can easily pack them up in festive containers.

Bacon Bourbon Banana Bread
makes 4 or 5 mini loaves

Ingredients

2 1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cu Brown Sugar
1/2 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 cu Butter
3 lg Eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cu Sour Cream
2 tbl Molasses
2 tbl Bourbon
3 Ripe Bananas, smashed
6 Slices Bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

Additional equipment

4 or 5 mini loaf pans, depending on how high you want the loaves

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Gradually mix in eggs, one at at time.  Add sour cream, molasses and bourbon.  Add flour mixture, in small batches, until fully incorporated.  Add bananas and bacon.  Transfer batter to loaf pans, filling each about 2/3 full.  This recipe will make 4 loaves with rather high domes or 5 loaves that will be a bit smaller.  Place pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Peanut or Cashew Brittle
adapted from my Aunt Minerva’s recipe

Ingredients

1 cu Granulated Sugar
1/4 cu Water
1/2 cu Light Corn Syrup
1 1/2 cu Peanuts (or Cashews), not dry roasted
2 tbl Butter, cut into 6-8 pieces
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Baking Soda

Additional Equipment

Candy Thermometer
Small baking pan, with sides, 9“ x 12“ in size
Parchment Paper
Rubber Spatula, buttered on both sides

Method

Pre-measure all ingredients and have them all ready before you start.  Line the bottom and two sides of the baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Pour sugar, water and corn syrup into a medium to large saucepan over high heat.  Attach candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan with the tip submerged into the sugar mixture but not touching the bottom of the pan.  Stir mixture until sugar dissolves and starts to bubble.  Add nuts and stir regularly so that mixture heats evenly.  Once thermometer reaches 300 degrees F, remove pan  from the heat and immediately stir in butter and vanilla.  Quickly stir in baking soda.  Mixture will foam a bit, but will soon begin to harden as well.  Moving quickly but carefully, pour mixture into sheet pan and immediately spread it as thinly as possible with the buttered spatula. Push it all the way into the corners. Let brittle harden for at least 1 hour and then break it into small pieces and enjoy.

Mama Fannie's Holiday Sand Tarts
wedding cookies way my grandmother made them

Ingredients

2 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of salt
1 cu Pecans Pieces
1 cu Unsalted Butter (2 sticks) plus 2 tbsp, softened
1 cu Powdered Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Additional Powdered sugar for coating cookies

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium sized bowl mix flour, baking powder, salt, and pecans. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, blend butter with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually mix in powdered sugar. Add vanilla extract. Add flour mixture in small amounts until combined. If dough is too soft to roll in your hands, refrigerate for an hour before using. Spoon one half tablespoon of dough onto a work surface. Roll dough into a small ball and place it on a baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for about 12 minutes until cookies just start to brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

These cookies are very delicate right out of the oven and can break if you handle them too soon. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for about 5 to 10 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack. Once cookies are completely cooled, drop them in more powdered sugar to fully coat. Shake off excess and serve. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container.  Another option to just coating the cookies in powdered sugar is to add a bit of cocoa to the mix (about 1/4 cocoa to 3/4 powdered sugar).

Red Hot Popcorn
couresy of Ann Cook

Ingredients

3 bags Natural Microwave Popcorn, 3.5oz size, popped with all the "old maids" picked out
1 1/2 sticks Butter or Margarine
1/2 cu Karo Corn Syrup
9.5 oz bag Red Hots Candies

Method

Melt butter, corn syrup and red hots on the stove. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile put popped popcorn into a large greased roasting pan (I use one of those disposable turkey pans). Pour syrup over the popcorn and stir. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees. Stir every 15 minutes. When done, pour onto wax paper to cool. Break into pieces and store in a sealed container or bag.

Grilling Spices and BBQ Sauce
from a previous segment

Homemade Grilling Spices and BBQ Sauce Make Great Meals And Gifts

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook.com or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Kitchen Gadgets For Holiday Gifts]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:05:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/265*120/WWGadgetRoundUp.jpg

It’s holiday gift giving season again.  And, each year I try to find interesting food related gadgets that would make great gifts for those who love to cook.  Whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers, stylish designs, or countertop appliances, this collection covers a broad range of prices and uses.  You might even be tempted to treat yourself to a gift or two.

The Perfect Bake
$69.99

The Perfect Bake system turns anybody into a master pastry chef.  Linked to your mobile device, it weighs each ingredient for accuracy and uses built-in timers to alert you when you’re done mixing, baking, or cooling. If you need to rescale a recipe, Perfect Bake does the math for you—whether you’re changing the size of your cake pan, the quantity of cookies you want to bake, or the amount of chocolate chips you have on hand. You can choose from hundreds of pastry chef tested recipes or create your own.  Forget measuring…just add ingredients.  The Perfect Bake can be found at Brookstone.

Hot Dog Slic’r
Around $10.00

This fun, dog-shaped kitchen gadget quickly creates safer, smaller hot dog pieces. It is designed to accommodate standard hot dogs, cold or cooked. Simply place a hot dog in the Slic’R and push down. It also features a bowl for your favorite dipping sauce. You can get more information on the company that supports inventors and products like The Hot Dog Slic’r at Trident Design and find purchasing information on Amazon.com.

RSVP Onion Goggles
$19.99

If you’re always shedding tears over chopping onion, then the Onion Goggles might be just what you need.  These sturdy plastic goggles feature comfortable foam seal that protects eyes from onion vapors and have anti-fog lenses for maximum clarity.  You can get more information on the company that supports inventors and products like The Onion Goggles at Trident Design and find purchasing information at Amazon.com.

Farberware Food Huggers
$9.99

Farberware Food Huggers are a set of four reusable silicone covers that help preserve the freshness of leftover fruits and vegetables. Just push the leftover half down into the closest sized hugger and save it in the fridge until you need it again. When the food is pushed down into the Food Hugger, the Food Hugger folds tightly (hugs) around the food and creates a seal to hold in the natural juices and prevent exposure to circulating air, which can cause food to spoil or dehydrate. Crafted from 100% FDA silicone, Food Huggers are 100% BPA and phthalate free.  Food Huggers are also dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe.  You can find Farberware Food Huggers at Sur La Table.

Farberware Avocado Huggers
$7.99

Farberware Avocado Huggers fit snugly over a half avocado to help keep it fresh longer.  Two sizes are included to help make sure you are prepared for avocados large and small.  Just slip the small end of your leftover avocado into the Avocado Hugger like you were putting on a slipper.  Then pull the rest of the Avocado Hugger up over the back so that the whole half is inside the Avocado Hugger.  Avocado Huggers come with a pit pocket that can be pushed in or out depending if the half you are saving is with pit, or pit free. You can find Farberware Avocado Huggers at Sur La Table

iDevices Kitchen Thermometer
$79.99

The iDevices Kitchen Thermometer is a full-size bluetooth cooking thermometer that allows you to monitor temperatures from the iDevices connected app on your mobile phone or tablet.
With dual-probes you can monitor two temperatures simultaneously from another room.  And, with temps for certain foods preprogrammed into the app, you can simply select an item and your desired level of doneness and the Kitchen Thermometer does the rest.  It is available online at iDevices.

Savora Designer Kitchen Tools
$9.99 - $39.99, depending on the item

This elegant collection of kitchen tools was designed by Sid Ramnarace, a former designer for Ford Motor Company.  He and his team focused mainly on creating a line of culinary utensils that are functional, sleek, modern and ergonomic, delivering a high-quality experience with every use.  Ramnarace believes that cooking is an art and communicates the individual’s personality.  All Savora products are available in eight fashion-forward colors, including Snow, Noir, Crimson, Indigo, Passion, Raven, Citron and Persimmon. Savora products are available at Bloomingdales.

Toddy Wedge
used for my iPhone during the segment
$14.99

Toddy Wedge is a hand-crafted stylish and essential companion for your electronics that both cleans and holds your mobile device. The bottom exterior is crafted with plush microfiber material to offer scratch-free cleaning without the need of harmful fluids and the top is engineered with microfiber silk that leaves your surfaces with that “out of package” look.  You can get more information at toddygear.com.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne’s Weekend: Wine Pairings For Your Thanksgiving Dinner]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 13:25:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WinesAndDesserts.JPG

Selecting the right wine for any meal can be a challenge.  When it comes to a big holiday dinner like Thanksgiving, pairing wines to enjoy with different parts of your meal can be even more daunting.  Fortunately, master sommelier Alpana Singh was kind enough to join me this week and recommend wines that would be appropriate with each course of the big holiday meal.

Toasting The Day

Alpana suggested beginning with a sparkling wine since it is the holiday season and it is also a nice way to greet guests.

    - Catherine & Pierre Breton "La Dilettante", Vouvray, Loire Valley, France $18

Appetizers

I was debating doing a seafood appetizer or a charcuterie platter.  Alpana selected a wine that would be appropriate for both.

    - Loimer Gruner Veltliner, Austria $18

First Course

I’m planning on a spicy pumpkin soup for my first course.  The wine Alpana suggested work well with not only my soup, but also sweet potatoes, butternut squash and similar dishes.

    - Balthasar Ress Riesling, Germany $16

Turkey/Main Course

For the main course, Alpana recommended a zinfandel

    - Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, California $40

Dessert

For my dessert, I’m planning on a traditional apple pie and my bourbon mascarpone cheesecake.  Alpana’s recommendation was a moscato.
    - Saracco Moscato d'Asti, Italy $20

As you can see the wines range in price from $18 to $40.  If you’re not planning to break your celebration into as many parts as I have, you can certainly reduce the number of wines.

A big thanks to Alpana for sharing her insights.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Dessert Medley For A Holiday Buffet]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:38:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WJ-apple-crisp.jpg

As the holidays approach, so does menu planning for big holiday meals.  For larger gatherings I thought it would be nice to create a buffet of single serve desserts so that guests have options at the end of the big feast.  It’s also an easy way for guests to serve themselves.  Here are three suggestions that represent a nice range of flavors and compliment each other very well.  And, if you decide not to do a buffet, creating any one of these would make a tasty finish to a special meal.

Individual Apple Cranberry Crisps
makes eight 8oz crisps

Ingredients

topping

3/4 cu All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cu Light Brown Sugar
1 cu Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (not instant/or quick versions)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cu Butter, melted

filling

6 med Granny Smith Apples, about 3lbs
1 cu Dried Cranberries
Water
Zest of 1/2 Orange
3 tbl Orange Juice
2 tbl Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine (you can substitute 1 tsp Vanilla if you like)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cu Flour
1/3 cu Granulated Sugar
1 tbl Butter, diced

additional ingredients and equipmant

eight 8 oz Ramekins
Vanilla Ice Cream, optional, for serving

Method

Place cranberries in a medium sized bowl.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Pour about 1 cup of boiling water over cranberries and let them sit for about 10 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put orange zest, orange juice, apple pie moonshine in a large bowl.  Peel, core and cut apples into medium sized pieces.  Add cut apples to the large bowl as you cut them, tossing them in the mixture  with each new addition.  Drain cranberries and add them to the mixture.  Divide the apple mixture among the 8 ramekins.  Separately, mix together 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.  Spoon mixture over apples.  Dot each ramekin with a bit of the diced butter. 

In a separate bowl, mix together topping ingredients.  Spread the topping over the ramekins.  Bake ramekins for 30-35 minutes or until filling is bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  These are great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Pumpkin Mousse
makes 6 individual servings

Ingredients

mousse

Boiling Water
1 pkg Gelatin
1 tbl Bourbon
2 cu Chilled Whipping Cream
4 lg Egg Yolks
3 tbl Sugar
1 cu Canned Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Vanilla Extrack
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt

topping

1 cu Whipping Cream
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 cu Confectioners Sugar
1/4 cu Crushed Graham Crackers
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

additional equipment

six 8oz Wine Glasses
Instant read thermometer or candy thermometer

Method

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Measure 1/4 of a cup of the boiling water and pour over gelatin in a medium sized bowl.  Add Bourbon and set aside.

Whisk yolks and sugar in a medium sized bowl until smooth and creamy.  Separately, Heat 3/4 cup of cream until hot but not boiling.  Slowly whisk cream into egg mixture and continue whisking until smooth.  Transfer mixture to a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 160 F.  Remove from heat and pour through a fine sieve into a large bowl.  Add Gelatin mixture along with cinnamon and ginger.  Stir in pumpkin and place mixture in the refrigerator. 

Whip the remaining cream until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold pumpkin mixture into whipped cream.  Once fully incorporated, place mixture into a large disposable bag.  Cut out one corner and pipe the mixture into the wine glasses.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Prior to serving, whip the 1 cup of whipping cream until soft peaks form.  Gradually blend in mascarpone cheese.  Add confectioners sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until fully incorporated.  Place whipped cream in a disposable bag.  Cut out one corner and pipe the mixture on top of the pumpkin mousse. 

Mix crushed graham crackers and cinnamon and sprinkle on top.

Chocolate Swirl Mini Cheesecakes
makes ten 3" cheesecakes

Ingredients

Crust

12 Whole Graham Crackers
10 tbl Butter, melted

Filling

3/4 cu Granulated Sugar
20 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
3 lg Eggs, resting at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 tbl Bourbon, like Maker's Mark
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Salt
2 oz Semi Sweet Chocolate

Special Equipment

3” circular baking rings about 3” tall
parchment paper cut into ten 11” x 3” strips

Method

Place the rings on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Line the inside of each ring with a strip of parchment paper.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grind graham crackers into crumbs either using a food processor or by breaking them up inside of disposable bag using a food can.  Combine crumbs with the butter and mix thoroughly.  Distribute crumbs among the 10 rings. Press the crumbs down to create a flat crust on the bottom.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Remove form oven and allow them to cool fully.

Melt chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler until just smooth.  Set aside.

Cream together granulated sugar and cream cheese until smooth.  Add mascarpone cheese and continue blending.  Add bourbon, vanilla, lemon juice and salt.  Add in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the chocolate and stir to combine. 

Place the remaining filling in a disposable bag and make a small cut in one corner.  Pipe the filling into the rings.  Place the chocolate mixture into a small disposable bag.  Cut one corner from this bag and place three dots of the chocolate mixture on top of the filling in each ring.  Once completed, use a toothpick or a knife to do a few swirls of the chocolate into the filling.  Don’t overdo it or the chocolate will start to blend into the filling.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until out edges of cheesecakes are set but center still appears soft.  Remove from the oven and let them cool at room temperature for about an hour.  Then place them in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  To serve, remove cheesecakes from the metal ring and unwrap the parchment paper.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 

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<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Cooking With Qunioa]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:00:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWTabboulegh.JPG

Quinoa is part of a family of “ancient grains” that, as the names implies, have been around for centuries.  Many of these ancient seeds and grains are high in protein and gluten free.  With an increased focus on vegetarian meals and other diet restrictive recipes, a number of these grains have become much more accessible in grocery stores in their bulk sections.  Quinoa is probably the most popular and is available in a variety of different types, including red, white, royal pearl and tri-colored.  Today, I’m sharing a traditional tabbouleh made with quinoa instead of bulgar wheat and lettuce wraps with a filling made with chicken, quinoa and peanuts and a side of a creamy peanut sauce for added flavor.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Ingredients

Quinoa Preparation

1 cu Quinoa
1 1/2 cu Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Olive Oil

Remaining Preparation

2 cloves Garlic, peeled, smashed and finely minced
8 oz Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cu Chopped Cucumbers, persian or english, finely chopped
3-4 Radishes, trimmed and diced, about 1/2 cup
1 cu Red Onions, finely diced
1 Green Onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cu Fresh Mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cu Fresh Parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbl Fresh Dill, finely minced
2 tbl Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/3 cu Olive Oil
Lemon wedges, optional, for garnish

Method

Bring water, salt and olive oil to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Gradually stir in quinoa.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep covered for an additional 5 minutes.  Transfer quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool fully.

In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  While still whisking, gradually pour olive oil into the mixture.  Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and creamy.   Set aside.

Once quinoa has fully cooled, add tomatoes, cucumbers radishes, red onions, green onion, mint, parsley and dill. Stir to combine.  Pour dressing over mixture and gently toss to coat. 

This dish is best when the flavors have had time to blend together.  If time permits, place plastic wrap over the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.  Serve as an appetizer, salad substitute or side dish.

Quinoa Lettuce Cups

Ingredients

Quinoa Preparation

1 cu Quinoa
1 1/2 cu Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Olive Oil

Remaining Preparation

1 head Iceberg Lettuce
1 lg carrot, finely diced
1 lg Celery Stalk, finely diced
1/2 cu Diced Onion
1/2 cu Chopped Peanuts, measured then chopped more finely
9 oz pkg Pre Cooked Chicken (or 12 oz pkg of vegan no chicken strips), chopped
2 tbl Lime Juice
2 tbl Sesame Oil
1 tbl Peanut Sauce (recipe below)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/4 cu Olive Oil

Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

3/4 cu Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cu Water
3 tbl Hoisin Sauce
1/2 tsp Sriracha Sauce
1 tbl Sesame Oil
1 tbl Soy Sauce
2 tbl Lime Juice
1 tbl Finely Chopped Peanuts, optional, for garnish

Method

Bring water, salt and olive oil to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Gradually stir in quinoa.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and keep covered for an additional 5 minutes.  Transfer quinoa to a bowl and allow to cool fully.

Separately, prepare peanut sauce by combining all ingredients, except the chopped peanuts, in a bowl and mixing together until smooth.  Set aside. 

Cut the core from the lettuce and then gently peel away individual leaves.  If you hold the head of lettuce under a slow steam of water aimed at outer leaves, the weight of the water filling the leaf will help it pull away on its own.  Drain the leaves on a rack until dry.

Once quinoa has cooled add carrots, celery, onion, peanuts and chicken to the bowl and stir to combine.  In a separate medium sized bowl, whisk together lime juice, sesame oil, salt, pepper and peanut sauce.  While still whisking, gradually pour olive oil into the mixture.  Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and creamy.  Pour dressing into the quinoa mixture and stir to combine. 

Serve the quinoa mixture with the lettuce leaves and the peanut sauce (with chopped nuts on top).  Have your guests place a bit of filling in a lettuce leaf, top with a bit of peanut sauce and then roll the leaf around the filling and enjoy.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Recipe: Giant Candy Corn Cake]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:44:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/candy-corn-cake.jpg

Candy corn is always a big favorite when Halloween rolls around. So, this year I decided to use that little treat as inspiration for a big cake.  The recipe below starts off as a basic pumpkin spice cake and you can expand from there in a number of different ways.  First, you can skip making the candy corn version and just enjoy the cake with its tasty cream cheese frosting.  Second, if you’d like to try your hand at using fondant, you can make one candy corn cake and display it on one of your plates or platters.  Or, if you like a challenge, you can go all out by making two cakes and the custom display table that floats one giant candy corn over the other one.  It is a tasty cake no matter which way to decide to make it.  Plus, I’ve also included my pumpkin spice cheesecake recipe which is a variation on my original bourbon mascarpone cheesecake.

Candy Corn Cake
makes one 2-layer cake

Ingredients

cake

1/2 cu Butter, softened
1 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 cu Light Brown Sugar
3 lg Eggs, slightly beaten
1 cu Pumpkin Puree
2 cu All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cu Sour Cream
1 tbl Bourbon
1/4 cu Vegetable Oil

frosting

8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
4 cu Confectioners Sugar
2 tbl Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Bourbon (optional)
1/4 tsp Cinnamon

fondant

1 lb White Fondant, available in the cake decorating section of a crafts store
1/4 tsp Orange Food Coloring Gel
1/4 tsp Yellow Food Coloring Gel
Confectioners Sugar, for dusting your work surface

additional equipment

9” x 13” Cake Pan
Baking Spray for the cake pan
Rolling Pin
10” Candy Corn Template (available at this link)
Cardboard Cake Board (optional), trimmed to the size of the candy corn template

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Thinly coat the bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” cake pan with baking spray and set aside. 

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth.  Add pumpkin puree, sour cream, bourbon and vegetable oil.  Gradually add in flour and eggs, a little at a time until fully incorporated.  Mix at medium high speed for an additional 2 minutes.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool fully. 

Prepare frosting by blending together the cream cheese and confectioners sugar.  Add pumpkin puree, bourbon and cinnamon and mix at medium hight speed until creamy.  Set aside.

Once cake has cooled, removed it from the pan and cut it in half diagonally.  Cut each half into a candy corn shape by laying the template over the cake and cutting around it.  Spread a bit of frosting on the cake board and place one layer on it.  Add a thin layer of frosting on top of the first layer and place the second one onto it.  Frost the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting making it as smooth as possible.  Set the cake aside and let the frosting harden a bit.

Applying fondant to a cake can be a bit challenging. Here’s a link to a demonstration of the process. To create the fondant layer, divide the fondant into three equal parts.  Add the yellow food coloring to one part and mix it in by pulling the fondant like taffy.  Repeat with the orange food coloring on a second piece.  Liberally dust your work surface with confectioners sugar.  Lightly dust your rolling pin as well.  Roll out the yellow and white pieces into 5” x 7” rectangles.  Roll out the orange into a 3” x 7” rectangle.  Place the white and yellow rectangles side-by-side, lengthwise, about 2” apart from each other.  Lay the orange piece in the middle of the two, overlapping each by about 1/2”.   Using the rolling pin, flatten and expand all three pieces into one large piece that’s about 4” larger than the candy corn template on all sides.  Place the rolling pin in the middle of the fondant, perpendicular to the direction of the color bands, and roll half over it.  Gently lift the rolling pin and the fondant and place it in the center of the frosted cake with the white portion over the pointed end of the cake.  Unroll the half so that the whole cake is covered.  Gently work the fondant until it’s smooth on all sides and cut away the excess. 

Two Candy Corn Display

If you’d like to create the two candy corn display show in this segment, make a second cake and then build the stand using the pieces shown in the diagram in this PDF.  To attach the floating cake to the display, I put velcro on the bottom of the cake and the surface of the support shelf.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
an adaptation of my bourbon mascarpone cheesecake recipe

Ingredients

Crust

2/3 of a 14.4oz box of Graham Crackers (basically 2 of the 3 packages in the box)
10 tbl Butter

Filling

3/4 cu Granulated Sugar
20 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
1 cu Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Spice
3 lg Eggs, resting at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 tbl Bourbon, like Maker's Mark
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt

Topping

8 oz Sour Cream
1 tsp Bourbon
1 tbl Pumpkin Puree
1/4 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Orange Food Coloring Gel (optional)

9" Springform Pan
Parchment Paper (optional) to line the bottom and sides of the pan

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Finely grind graham crackers in a food processor and then transfer them to a bowl.  Melt butter in a small pan or in the microwave and pour over graham crackers.  Mix thoroughly and pour into your springform pan.  Press the graham crackers about halfway up the side and on the bottom of the pan as uniformly as possible.  Bake the crust in the oven for 12 minutes.  Remove and set on a wire rack to fully cool, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, with either a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream together the sugar, cream cheese and mascarpone cheese.  Mix thoroughly for about 5 minutes at medium high speed.  Add eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix.  Add bourbon, vanilla, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice and salt.  Mix for an additional 3 minutes.  Pour mixture into your cooled springform pan.  Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes.  The outside edges of the cheesecake will be stiff but the center will still be soft and jiggle a bit.  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes.  The cake will settle. 

Mix together sour cream, bourbon, sugar, pumpkin puree, and vanilla  Once cheesecake has cooled, gently spoon the topping over the cake and spread it evenly.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the cheesecake rest at room temperature four about 45 minutes.  Then, place the cheesecake in your refrigerator for 4 hours or longer until it is fully set and chilled.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

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<![CDATA[Wayne's Giant Candy Corn Cake]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:00:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/candy-corn-cake.jpg 10/23/14: Make a giant cake version of a Trick-or-Treat favorite.]]> <![CDATA[Why Are Honeycrisps So Expensive?]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:50:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/PHOTO150542271169958454477main.jpg 10/10/14: They're ripe this time of year and they're delicious, but why are they so pricey?]]> <![CDATA[Fans Line Up for Final Hot Doug's Taste]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:44:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hot-dougs-line.jpg 10/03/14: NBC Chicago's Regina Waldroup was outside Hot Doug's Friday morning talking to hot dog and sausage lovers hoping to get in on the last of the action.]]> <![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Sweet And Savory Apple Recipes]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 01:10:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wayne-johnson-apple-recipe.jpg

Fall is the best time of year for making both sweet and savory dishes with apples.  Because it’s harvest season, the largest variety of apples is available in grocery stores and farmers markets right now at very low prices.  The recipes below include a very traditional apple pie with my mom’s special cream cheese pie crust, a new apple custard pie and a new braided bread stuffed with apples, chicken and sage.  I hope you’ll try them all. 

Braided Bread Stuffed with Chicken, Apples and Provolone

Ingredients

bread dough (makes two loaves)

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1 1/3 cu Warm Water, about 110 degrees
1 tbl Brown Sugar
4 cu All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Olive Oil, plus additional oil to coat dough while proofing

Filling

3/4 lb Chicken Breast, very thinly sliced
2 med to small Firm Apples, like Granny Smith, peeled cored, thinly sliced and chopped
1 sm Onion, thinly sliced
1 tbl Fresh Sage, finely chopped
1 tbl Butter
1 tbl Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
4 oz Sliced Provolone, 6 thin slices
1 lg Egg, beaten
2 tsp Poppy Seeds

Method

Mix yeast with the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the flour. Add 1/3 cup of the warm water. Stir to combine. Add olive oil and let rest for 10 minutes. Separately, mix remaining flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and remaining water and combine into a dough. If dough is dry and not coming together, add water, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time until its fully combined.  Knead dough for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board.

Pour an additional 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl for proofing. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat all surfaces. Cover with a towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour until doubled in bulk. Punch down, divide in half and then use one half in this recipe.  (You can make a second stuffed braided loaf with the remaining dough, or shape it into a simple loaf.  If you make a simple loaf, place it in a bread pan, brush it with 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds on top.  Let it rest for 30 minutes, then bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and sounds hollow when you thump it).

While dough is rising, heat butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add chicken and toss for 1 minute or until opaque on all sides.  Add onions and toss again for an additional minute.  Add apples and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and sage and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Remove mixture from heat let it cool. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured board to roughly a 12” square.  Cut 1” strips 3 1/2” long down opposing sides of the dough.  Lay three slices of provolone down the center of the dough.  Once cooled, pile chicken and apple mixture on top of the cheese using a slotted spoon to leave most of the liquid in the pan.  Top with remaining three slices of provolone.

Starting at one end, pull the strips up and over the filling, alternating form one side to the other so that strips looked weaved.  Tuck the ends of the final strips under the loaf.  Transfer the loaf to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a baking pad.  Brush the entire surface of the loaf with the beaten egg and sprinkle poppy seeds on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let loaf rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Apple Custard Pie

Ingredients

1 Pie Crust (recipe below)
4 lg Firm Apples, like Granny Smith
1 tbl Butter
3/4 cu Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cu Granulated sugar
1/2 cu Brown Sugar
3 lg Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg

Method
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out pie crust and transfer it to a standard (or slightly deeper) 9” pie pan. Crimp edges of crust using your fingers. Place plan on a baking sheet and set aside.

Peel, core and roughly chop the apples.  Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add Apples and 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Sauté until apples are tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of cinnamon over apples, stir and remove from heat.  Allow apples to cool slightly and then puree in a food processor or blender until apples are as smooth as possible.   Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool fully.

Once apples have cooled, add granulated sugar and brown sugar and stir to combine.  Add evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and remaining cinnamon and blend well.  Pour mixture into crust.  Loosely tent the pie with aluminum foil that is domed high enough so that the filling won't come in contact with it during the cooking process.

Place pie into oven and bake for 50 minutes.  Carefully remove the aluminum bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown and pie is set.  Remove pie from oven and allow to cool.  Pie will flatted out as it cools.  Serve at room temperature.  Also, try it with warm caramel sauce.

Mom's Pie Crust
(makes two crusts)

2 1/2 cu All Purpose Flour
3/4 cu Cold Margarine or Butter (12 tablespoons), diced
6 oz Cream Cheese, torn into small pieces

Cut margarine and cream cheese into the flour and mix together with your hands, breaking margarine and cream cheese down into smaller bits.  Continue blending until the flour has been incorporated and dough holds together.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.   Roll each into a ball and flatten slightly.   Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.  (Alternatively, you can put all ingredients in a large food processor and blend until they come together and form a ball).

Apple Pie

Ingredients:

2 Pie Crusts (recipe above)
6 med Apples
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 cu Granulated Sugar
1/4 cu Brown Sugar
2 tbl All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Lemon Zest
1 tbl Butter or Margarine
2 tbl Milk

Additional granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to sprinkle on top crust

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel, core, and thinly sliced apples. Mix with lemon juice. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Place one pie crust in a pie pan and allow edges to extend over the sides. Layer half of the sliced apples on crust. Top with half of the sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining apples and sugar. Dot the top with pieces of the butter.

Roll out second crust. Cut four to five teardrop shapes (about 1 1/2 inches long) around the center to vent pie as it cooks. Place crust over apple and sugar mixture allowing edges to extend over lower crust. Crimp two crust edges together using your fingers.

Brush the top with milk and lightly sprinkle sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon on top. Loosely tent pie with aluminum foil that is domed high enough so that the crust won't come in contact with it during the cooking process and place it on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove aluminum and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 

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<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Pumpkin Recipes]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 12:27:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*160/WWPumpkins.jpg

I love when pumpkin season rolls around because pumpkin is one of those ingredients that works well in both sweet and savory dishes.  The cheesecake, pie and soup recipes are ones I've shared in the past.  But, today I’m adding two new ones, pumpkin pasta and pumpkin fig bars.  Both require a little extra work but the tasty results are well worth it.

Pumpkin Pasta with Brown Butter and Sage

Ingredients

Pasta

2 cu All-Purpose Flour
2 tbl Semolina Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2 lg Eggs, room temperature
1/3 cu Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Water
Additional Semolina Flour, for your work surface

Sauce

6 tbl Butter
8-12 Sage Leaves
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/8 tsp Sugar

Additional Equipment

Pasta machine with noodle attachment
Pasta drying rack, optional

Method

Combine flours, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Mix 1 egg with the pumpkin puree and water in a small bowl and set aside.  Stir remaining egg into flour mixture until ingredients are just moistened and then add the pumpkin mixture.  Work mixture into a dough and knead it for about 5 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic and set it aside at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. 

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and work each portion separately.  Using the pasta machine, run the dough through multiple times continually reducing the thickness until you reach a medium setting (#5 on my pasta machine).  Then, run the dough through the noodle attachment.  Lay the noodles onto a semolina floured surface.  Dust with a bit more semolina flour so that noodles doesn’t stick to each other and then place on a drying rack.  You can also place a paper towel over a chair and put the noodles over that if you don’t have a drying rack.  Let noodles dry for about an hour or two and then place them in a plastic bag until ready to use.  Pasta can be refrigerated at this point if you like.

To cook pasta, simply drop it into lightly salted boiling water for 4 minutes.  Drain and add to your sauce.

To make the sauce, start by slicing the sage.  Stack all but 3 or 4 leaves on top of each other.   Roll them up tightly and then thinly slice the roll to form thin strips.  Set the whole leaves aside.  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add sage strips and stir until butter starts to turn a golden brown.  Add the whole sage leaves, lemon juice and sugar, and stir for about a minute.  Add pasta and toss to coat.  Transfer to serving bowls and serve hot.

Pumpkin Fig Bars

Ingredients

Cookie Dough

3 1/2 cu All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 cu Butter
1/2 cu Sugar
3 lg Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Filling

3/4 lb Dried Golden California Figs
1 cu Water
1/4 lb Golden Raisins
1/2 cu Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cu Dark Rum
1 cu Pumpkin Puree

Method

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.  Set aside.  In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Add vanilla.  Add in 1/3 of the flour and 1 egg and mix well.  Repeat until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate it for at least two hours.

Meanwhile, place all filling ingredients, except the pumpkin, in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid cooks off.  Stir in pumpkin and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes until mixture is rather dry.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

Place ingredients in a food processor and blend until smoother.  Transfer filling to a bowl and set aside.

Split chilled dough into two portions and work them separately, keeping the unused portion in the refrigerator.  Roll out dough to just over a 9” x 12” size.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough to exactly 9” x 12”.  Cut this larger rectangle into three 3” x 12” strips.  Place 1/2 of the filling into a disposable plastic bag and cut about 1/2” off one corner.  Squeeze a line of filing down the center of each strip.  Use all of the filling.  If dough has become soft, place everything in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  With each rectangle, gently bring up the sides and pinch them together over the filling.  Place the log onto a baking sheet, pinched side down, and flatten it a bit.  Repeat with remaining portions.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until logs are are just starting to lightly brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Slice bars into 1 1/2” pieces with a very sharp knife and then let bars cool completely.

Pumpkin Pie With Optional Pastry Leaf Topping

Pie Crust
makes two pie crusts

Ingredients

2 1/2 cu Flour

3/4 cu Cold Butter

6 oz Cream Cheese

Method

Cut margarine into small cubes. Cut or pull cream cheese into small pieces.  Combine all three ingredients. Using your fingers, mix to form a dough (you can also put ingredients in a large food processor and process until dough forms a ball). Knead for about 30 seconds.  Split dough into two equal parts and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. 

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

1 Pie Crust (1/2 of crust recipe above
)
2 1/2 cu Pumpkin
1 cu Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cu Granulated sugar

1/2 cu Brown Sugar
3 lg Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Pastry Leaf Topping (optional)

Fall Leaf Pastry Cutters
1 Pie Crust (1/2 of crust recipe above)

Method
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Roll out one pie crust and transfer it to a pie pan. Crimp edges of crust using your fingers. Place plan on a baking sheet and set aside.


In a large bowl, mix pumpkin with granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add milk, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Pour mixture into crust.  Loosely tent the pie with aluminum foil that is domed high enough so that the filling won't come in contact with it during the cooking process.

Place pie into oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes or until filling is set. Carefully remove the aluminum for the last 20 minutes of the baking process so crust can brown. Remove pie from oven and allow to cool.

If you want to include the leaves for your pie, roll out the second pie crust to the same thickness as the first crust.  Using pastry cutters, cut out as many leaves (or whatever cutter pattern you choose) as you can.  Take the scraps and roll them out again to cut additional leaves.  Place the leaves on a baking sheet and place them in the oven along with the pie once you've lowered the temperature to 350 degrees.  Bake for 15-20 or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool while pie is baking.  Once you remove the pie from the oven, carefully arrange the leaves on the pie, slightly pressing them into the slowly settling pie surface.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust

2/3 of a 14.4oz box of Graham Crackers (basically 2 of the 3 packages in the box)
10 tbl Butter

Filling

2/3 cu Pumpkin
3/4 cu Granulated Sugar
20 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature
3 lg Eggs, resting at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 tbl Bourbon, like Maker's Mark
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Salt

Topping

8 oz Sour Cream
1 tsp Bourbon
1/4 cu Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Lemon Juice
Red and Yellow Food Coloring, about 10 drops each

9" Springform Pan
Parchment Paper (optional) to line the bottom and sides of the pan

Method

I sometimes line the bottom of my springform pan so that it's easy to remove the cheesecake and place it on a serving platter.  This is an optional step.  But, if you'd like to do it, cut a parchment paper circle the same size as the base of your spring form pan and place it in the pan.  I usually spray the bottom of the pan with a baking spray so that the parchment paper sticks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Finely grind graham crackers in a food processor and then transfer them to a bowl.  Melt butter in a small pan or in the microwave and pour over graham crackers.  Mix thoroughly and pour all but about 1/4 of cup into your springform pan.  Press the graham crackers about halfway up the side and on the bottom of the pan as uniformly as possible.  Bake the crust in the oven for 12 minutes.  Remove and set on a wire rack to fully cool, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, with either a stand mixer or electric mixer, cream together the sugar, cream cheese and mascarpone cheese.  Mix thoroughly for about 5 minutes at medium high speed.  Add eggs, one at a time, and continue to mix.  Add bourbon, vanilla, lemon juice and salt.  Mix for an additional 3 minutes.  Pour mixture into your cooled springform pan.  Place pan on a baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes.  The outside edges of the cheesecake will be stiff but the center will still be soft and jiggle a bit.  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Let the cheesecake cool for 30 minutes.  The cake will settle a bit. 

Mix together sour cream, bourbon, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice.  Once cheesecake has cooled, gently spoon the topping over the cake and spread it evenly.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the cheesecake rest at room temperature four about 45 minutes.  Then, place the cheesecake in your refrigerator for 4 hours or longer until it is fully set and chilled.  Just before serving, crumble the remaining graham crackers and form a circular ring about half the diameter of the springform pan.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup With Roasted Pine Nuts
courtesy of Anna Avalos

Ingredients

1/2 cu Butter
1 lg Onion, finely chopped
2 Jalapeños, seeded and finely minced
3 cu Pure Pumpkin Puree
2 cloves Garlic, minced
6 cu Chicken Stock
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1/4 cu Heavy Cream (optional)
3 tbl All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cu Toasted Pine Nuts
Garlic Croutons, for garnish

Method

Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and jalapeños and sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for about two more minutes.  Add pumpkin, chicken stock, salt, and bouillon cubes. Bring soup to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree in a blender in batches.  Be very carful as you start the blender because contents can sometimes fly out (be sure to do it in small batches).  Return to a medium heat.  Add cream here if you choose, making sure not to boil soup.  Take out 1 cup of liquid and blend it with the flour in a small bowl, stirring until all lumps are gone. Add mixture back to soup.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes until flour mixture is fully heated and incorporated. Season soup to taste. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and garlic croutons -- homemade are the best. Enjoy!

A variation to this dish:  Rather than using croutons, try toasting thin slices of french bread.  Set those aside and then roast shrimp that has been seasoned with a little salt, pepper and chili powder.  Place a shrimp or two on a crostini and float it on the soup.  Top with pine nuts and serve.

This dish is also great served in a pumpkin soup bowl.  Simple cut the top off of a medium sized pumpkin (reserve the top).  Scoop out the seeds and rinse the inside of the pumpkin.  Turn upside down to drain.  Just before ready to serve, place the pumpkin in an oven that has been preheated to 250 degrees.  Warm for about 10 minutes then place on a nicely folded napkin inside of a regular bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl and place the top back on the pumpkin and serve.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Dessert Mashups]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:58:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wayne-dumplings.jpg

Creating mashups by combining food concepts from different cultures into surprising new dishes is a fun way to surprise and entertain your guests.  This week, I’m making desserts inspired by asian dumplings and the all American PB&J.  Both of these new dishes share a tasty and tangy strawberry dipping sauce that is really easy to prepare.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Dumplings
Makes 8 dumplings

Ingredients

2 Cinnamon Flavored Graham Crackers
2 tbl Nutella
1 tbl Powdered Sugar
2 oz Cream Cheese
20 drops of Red Food Coloring
8 Dumpling Wrappers, standard 3 1/2” size, often available frozen at regular grocery stores or asian markets
Granulated Sugar, for garnish
Orange peel curls (optional) for garnish, made by simply using a potato peeler on the outer skin
Mint Leaves (optional) for garnish
Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Method

if dumpling wrappers are frozen, allow a day for them to thaw in your refrigerator before making this recipe.

Place graham crackers in a sealable plastic bag and crush them using a small pan or food can.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together Nutella, powdered sugar, cream cheese and food coloring.  Transfer to a quart sized sealable bag.  Squeeze out all of the air and push the filling to one corner of the bag.  Cut a small hole in that corner so you can pipe filling onto the dumpling wrapper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Fill a small bowl with water and place it near your work surface.  Keep wrappers covered until ready to use.  Place a wrapper in your hand.  Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edge of the wrapper halfway around.  Place about 1/2 teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs in the center of the wrapper and squeeze about 1 1/2 teaspoon of Nutella filing over the crumbs.  Fold the dry edge of the wrapper over the wet edge and seal to form a half moon shape.  Make little pleats across the seal by making little folds next to each other all across the edge.  Set completed dumpling aside and repeat with remaining wrappers. 

To cook, gently drop the dumplings into the boiling water.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Remove dumplings with a mesh strainer or slotted spoon and transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with just a bit of sugar.  Decorate the plate with orange curls and mint.  Allow dumplings to cool slightly and serve with strawberry sauce.  Give your guests chop sticks and mini dipping bowls for the strawberry sauce.  For an alternative sauce, add a bit of balsamic to the strawberry sauce in a separate bowl.

Simple Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients

1 bag Frozen All Natural Strawberries, 20 oz size
1/3 cu Granulated Sugar
1 tbl Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1/4 cu water

Method

Place strawberries in the refrigerator for a day to fully thaw (you can also place the contents in a class bowl and microwave on low until just defrosted, but sill slightly frozen in parts).  Transfer berries to a blender or food processor.  Add water and blend until ingredients are smooth.  Add sugar and lemon juice and blend again until sugar has dissolved.  Place sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.

PB&J Dessert “French Fries”
makes 2-4 servings

Ingredients

2 Refrigerated Ready Made Pie Crusts
2 tbl Granulated Sugar
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 tbl All Purpose Flour
2/3 cu Creamy Peanut Butter
Strawberry Sauce (same recipe above)

Equipment

Baking Sheet
Parchment Paper
Crimping tool, like a small pizza cutter with a fluted edge (or a regular pizza cutter)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out one of the pie crusts onto a work surface.  Roll out the second pie crust and center it on top of the first.  Brush the beaten egg on the top surface and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the whole surface.  Turn both crusts over and repeat the process.

Using the crimping tool, split the crust “pancake” into four equal quadrants.  Working with each quadrant, cut strips about 1/2” wide.  Because of the egg wash, parchment paper will keep the strips from sticking so roll out a piece to fit your baking sheet.  Gently transfer the pairs onto the parchment paper and keep them from touching each other.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until light golden grown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. 

Place the peanut butter in a sealable bag.  Squeeze out the air and push the filling to a corner.  Cut a very small hole in the corner so you can pipe the peanut butter. 

Working with cooled strips, one at time, gently separate the pairs (if you have trouble, use a small paring knife to slide between the layers).  Pipe a line of peanut butter down the center of bottom pair and cover with the top.  Repeat with all strips.  Stack strips randomly, like french fries, on serving plates and serve with strawberry sauce.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Tailgating With Pepperoni Pizza Pretzels]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:41:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WW-pizza-pretzels.jpg

It’s tailgating season again and this year I wanted to combine two of my favorite foods into an easy to eat pre-game treat.  I took the flavors from my favorite pizza, pepperoni and cheese, and combine it with a soft pretzel.  And, I made a marinara dipping sauce to bring all the flavors together.  This is a great make ahead dish that can be wrapped in aluminum and reheated on a grill for the pre-game party.

Pepperoni Pizza Pretzels with Marinara Sauce

perfect for tailgating

Ingredients

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast (or about 2 1/2 tsp)
2 tbl Light Brown Sugar
4 1/2 - 5 cu All Purpose Flour
1 3/4 cu Warm Water (at about 110 degrees F)
5 tbl Butter
1/2 tbl Kosher Salt
1 tbl Dry Mustard
5 quarts Water
1/2 cu Baking Soda
1 lg Egg, beaten
3 1/2 oz Pepperoni
1 1/4 cu Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Marinara Sauce (recipe below)

extra equipment

Wire Rack
Pastry Brush
Parchment Paper
2 Baking Sheets

Method

Mix yeast, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium sized bowl.  Gradually stir in 3/4 cup of warm water.  Combine thoroughly and let set for 10 minutes as yeast activates.  

Finely chop the pepperoni and chop the shredded mozzarella into smaller pieces and set them both aside.

Separately, mix 4 1/2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and the 1 tablespoons of dry mustard in a large bowl (or mixing bowl of a stand mixer).  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add to the mixture along with the remaining 1 cup of warm water.  Stir to moisten ingredients.  Add the yeast mixture and work the mixture to form a dough.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes on a work surface (or, if using a stand mixer, use the dough hook at medium low speed for 5 minutes) working in additional dough if necessary (up to 1/2 cup) until it’s elastic but no longer sticky.  Work about 3/4 of the pepperoni and 3/4 of the mozzarella into the dough until fully incorporated.  You’ll use the remainder to top the pretzels.

Rub the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter on the bottom and sides of a large bowl.  Turn the dough into the bowl butter all sides.  Cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour.

Meanwhile, bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot.  Slowly add the 1/2 cup of baking soda in very small amounts (the water will bubble up with each addition so be careful).  

Flatten dough slightly and divide into 10 equal portions.  Cover portions not being used.  With each portion, roll into a 2' long rope.  Holding both ends, form a long "U" shape on your work surface.  Overlap the ends two times and then lift the ends up and onto the top of the "U" to form a pretzel shape.  Work the shape a bit until it has a uniform look to it.  Put a dab of water under the ends of the pretzels where they tough the top of the "U" to help them stay in place.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Using a large slotted spoon, gently place one pretzel into the boiling water.  Within 30 seconds it should be floating on top.  Remove from the water after about 45 seconds total and place on the wire rack.  Repeat with remaining pretzels and be sure to stir the water occasionally so that baking soda is fully blended.  

Brush each pretzel with a liberal amount of beaten egg.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese and pepperoni on top.  Gently transfer pretzels to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking pad.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  

Serve pretzels with marinara sauce.  For tailgating, place pretzels in a large aluminum container and cover with aluminum foil.  The entire container can be place on a grill away from the heat source to warm up the pretzels.

Marinara Sauce
courtesy of Giovanni Lugli

Ingredients

2 tbl Minced Shallots
1 tbl Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, peeled, smashed and finely minced
1 tbl Fresh Oregano, roughly chopped
24oz Good Quality Tomato Sauce, Italian if you can find it
1/2 tsp Salt

Method

Put olive oil and shallots in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.  Sauté, stirring often for about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and stir for another 2 minutes.  Add oregano, tomato sauce and salt and stir to combine.  Increase heat to medium high and sauté for an additional 10 minutes allowing sauce to reduce and thicken a bit.  Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.  For tailgating, prepare ahead and transfer to a disposable aluminum pan and cover with aluminum foil.  Simple reheat the container on a grill before serving.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Upscale Meatloaf]]> Thu, 04 Sep 2014 13:13:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWGourmetMeatloaf.JPG

I’m often asked to give a new take on a traditional dish.  Upscaling something as basic as meatloaf is a fun challenge and I took it on with my mom’s assistance.  Together, she and I put together this rolled meatloaf stuffed with parmesan cheese, spinach and prosciutto, and covered with a braided latticework of bacon.  The finishing touch is a portobello mushroom sauce made with red wine, beef stock and juices from the meatloaf.  It’s definitely a new look for an old favorite.

Rolled Meatloaf with Spinach and Prosciutto
serves 8

Ingredients

Meatloaf

1 lb Ground Sirloin
1 lb Ground Pork
1 sm Onion, finely chopped
1 red Pepper, finely chopped
1 Celery Stalk, finely chopped
2 coves Garlic, peeled smashed and finely minced
2 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
5 oz container Shredded Parmesan Cheese, about 2 cups
1/3 lb Prosciutto, sliced paper thin
10 oz Fresh Spinach
1/4 cu Water
13-14 slices of Bacon
Parchment or Butcher Paper
1/2 tbl Olive Oil
Aluminum Foil

Sauce

2 slices Bacon, finely chopped (this bacon can some from the scraps of that used to cover the loaf)
2 tbl Shallots, finely minced
4oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cu Red Wine (cabernet, merlot or shiraz)
1/2 cu Pan Drippings from Cooked Meatloaf
2 tbl All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cu Beef Stock

Method

Heat a large saucepan over high heat.  Add 1/4 cup of water and the spinach and stir until spinach fully breaks down.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once cool, squeeze out as much water as possible and then roughly chop on a cutting board.  Place chopped spinach in a paper towel and squeeze again to remove most of the remaining liquid.  Separate from paper towel and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, onion, red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano.  Mix well.  Roll out a sheet of parchment or butcher paper on a work surface.  Spread olive oil over the surface.  Transfer the ground meat mixture to the paper and spread it out to form a 9” x 12” rectangle.

Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the rectangle covering it as evenly as possible.  Top the cheese with the spinach.  then layer the prosciutto over the spinach, leaving about a 1” strip exposed along both 9” sides.  Starting at one of those exposed sides, roll the rectangle onto itself using the butcher paper to assist to create a rolled loaf.  Place the loaf seam side down and shape it a bit so that it’s a uniform size.  Layer strips of bacon side by side across the top at an angle.  Starting at one corner, lay a piece of bacon at the opposite angle over the first set of strips, but lift of every other piece of bacon to start a weaving pattern.  Continue laying additional strips interlacing them with the first layer until you’ve covered the loaf in a weaved pattern of bacon.  Cut excess bacon at the bottom and tuck small portions under the loaf.  Set aside the scraps to use in the sauce.  Press the loaf again to shape it into a nice uniform size.

Line a 9”x13” baking pan with aluminum and carefully place the meatloaf in the center.   Insert a meat thermometer in the center of the loaf and place it in the oven.  Roast until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.  Remove from oven and carefully pour drippings in to a container.  Place a piece of aluminum over the meatloaf and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Make the sauce.  Stir flour into 1/2 cup of beef broth until fully dissolved and set aside.  Heat bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until it starts to render its fat.  Add mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms become tender, about 4 minutes.  Add wine and increase heat to medium high.  Sauté until most of the wine has been reduced.  Add flour mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add meatloaf pan juices and beef stock and boil, stirring often, until mixture reduces and thickens.  about 6-8 minutes. 

To serve, slice meatloaf and place on serving plates.  Ladle sauce on top.  This dish is also great served over mashed potatoes flavored with a bit of sour cream and horseradish.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Giving Leftovers A Makeover]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:01:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWSmokedPorkTenderloin.JPG

Buying in bulk is a smart way to get a lot of bang for your buck, especially if you’re meal planning for a family.  But, with buying in bulk comes the challenge of portioning out the food that you buy so that nothing goes to waste.  So, under the category of “creative use of leftovers” I created this segment to suggest ways of repurpose dishes from one meal to another. 

The centerpiece of this segment is a whole pork loin, which I purchased from my local warehouse store.  The cut was about 8 pounds, enough for 24 to 30 servings, depending on recipes and appetites, and very inexpensive.  The great thing about buying the loin whole is that it can be cut it into multiple pieces and frozen for a number of different meals.  From boneless chops to roasts, it’s quite a versatile cut of meat. 

What I initially did was cut off a 4 pound roast to use for dinner but with the intention of having leftovers to use in additional recipes.  I made a simple preparation using my grilling spice mix and roasting it in my smoker.  The actual method is described below along with my spice mix recipe and serving suggestions. Then, with the leftover portion, I’ve provided a number of options. 

These recipes are in small, 1 to 2 serving sizes, but you can easily expand them if you’re just focusing on one idea or have more leftovers with which to work.

Basic Smoked Pork Loin

Ingredients

4lb Pork Loin
2 tbl Wayne’s Dry Rub Mix for Pork (recipe below)

Method

Rinse and pat dry the pork loin and trim away any excess fat.  Generously rub the spice mix all over the loin and place it in a sealable bag.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking so that the roast reaches room temperature.  With a smoker, regulate the temperature at about 275 degrees F and roast the loin until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.  If you are using a grill, use the indirect method and try to regulate the temperature at a similar level.  With my smoker, the cooking time was 90 minutes.

Once loin has reached desire temperature, remove from heat and cover with aluminum for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions: sliced, this pork loin pairs well with a mushroom and asparagus risotto (http://www.nbcchicago.com/entertainment/the-scene/Waynes-Weekend-Summer-Risotto-206722711.html)  and a simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

SQUEALER

Wayne’s Pork Grilling Spice Mix

Ingredients

5 1/2 tsp Paprika

3 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

1 1/2 tsp Cumin

1 1/2 tsp Oregano

1 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 1/2 tsp Brown Sugar

Mix ingredients together and either grind in spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle.  Store in an airtight container.

Pork Tenderloin Hash
makes 2 servings

Ingredients

3 lg slices of Cooked Pork Tenderloin, each about 1/2" thick
1 sm Onion, peeled
1 Red Pepper, seeded
1 Yellow Pepper, seeded
1 lg Potato, peeled
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 green onion, mostly white part, sliced
1/2 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/2 tbl Olive Oil
1 tbl Butter
4 Eggs

Method

Slice tenderloin, red pepper, yellow pepper, onion and potato to a uniform medium dice.  Heat olive oil over a medium heat and add onions.  Sauté for about 2-3 minutes and add potatoes, peppers, and garlic.  Increase the heat to medium high.  Season with salt, pepper and oregano, and sauté until vegetables are evenly cooked, about 10 minutes.  Add tenderloin and toss for an additional 2 minutes until heated through.  Meanwhile, cook eggs, sunny side up (or however you prefer) in a separate pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. 

Transfer hash to individual serving plates and top each with two eggs.

Pork Loin with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Pasta
for about 2 servings

1 1/3 cu cubed Smoked Pork Tenderloin
1/2 lb Fresh Roma Tomatoes
2 tbl Fresh Basil
1 clove Garlic, peeled, smashed and finely minced
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tbl Olive Oil
1/3 lb Pasta, your choice
Parmesan Cheese, optional, finely grated

Method

Chop the tomatoes into a small dice and transfer them to a large bowl.  Add garlic.  Layer the basil leaves on a cutting board and then roll them up tightly.  Using a sharp knife, thinly slice leaves into little ribbons (a chiffonade) and add to the tomatoes.  Add olive oil, pork, salt and pepper and toss ingredients to combine.  Cover mixture with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for an hour or so.  

Just before ready to serve, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.  Sample tomato mixture and adjust the taste with additional salt and/or pepper, if necessary.  Add tomatoes to pasta, toss to combine, and serve with parmesan cheese.

Pork Loin Sandwich
makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

1 Artisan Sandwich Roll, like a pretzel roll or mini baguette
2-3 thin slices Smoked Pork Loin
Dijon Mustard
2 slices Provolone Cheese
Tomato slices
Green Leaf Lettuce

Slice bread.  Spread dijon on both sides and layer on the ingredients.  Wrap in plastic if it’s for a take away lunch or simply enjoy.  For a lunch, the sandwich would be great with some ready to eat baby carrots, chips and an apple.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Tomato Tart And Tomato Appetizers]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:35:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWDeconstructedGuac.JPG

It’s harvest season for tomatoes and you can find a huge variety of shapes and sizes in your local grocery store and farmers market.  Tomatoes are incredibly versatile because they can be prepared in so many ways.  Here are two of my favorite recipes.  The first makes a great appetizer and the second can be served as a first course, main dish or a side.

Deconstructed Guacamole
makes 30 cherry tomato appetizers

Ingredients

30 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Avocado
Juice of 1/2 of a Lime
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
2 tbl Finely Minced Shallots
1 sm Jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
2 tbl chopped Cilantro

Method

With each tomato, slice off the top.  Then, slice a very tiny portion off the bottom so that it won’t roll around on a platter. Be careful not to cut into the center of the tomato.  Using a sharp knife slice into the membrane along the inner wall of the tomato to release the insides.  Be careful not to cut through the wall of the tomato.  Using a small spoon (I actually use a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon), scoop out meat of the tomato.  Turn it upside down on a paper towel to drain.  Repeat with remaining tomatoes.

Seed and peel the avocado.  Smash the avocado with the salt and cumin and mix with a fork until smooth.  Transfer ingredients to a disposable bag and cut a small portion out of one corner.

Arrange tomatoes on a serving platter.  Place about 1/4 teaspoon of shallots in the bottom of each tomato.  Squeeze avocado into each tomato filling it up and above the top.  Sprinkle chili powder on top, followed by jalapeño and cilantro.  Serve at room temperature.

Heirloom Tomato Tart
makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/4 cu All Purpose Flour
6 tbl Cold Butter, diced
3 oz Cream Cheese, cut or torn into small pieces

Filling

2 lb Heirloom Tomatoes
2 oz Spreadable (whipped) Cream Cheese
1/2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, finely minced
3/4 cu Shredded Mozzarella
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Oregano, finely minced
1 tbl Fresh Basil, chiffonade
2 tbl Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 lg Egg, whisked in a small bowl

Method

Prepare Crust: Place flour, butter and cream cheese in a food pressor and blend until mixture comes together.  Remove dough and any small pieces combine into a ball.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.

Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into thing slices and place on paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Add a layer of paper towel on top.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Once dough has chilled, place it on a lightly floured board.  Roll it out to about a 13” circle.  Transfer dough to a floured piece of parchment or wax paper.  Spread cream cheese to form a 8” circle in the center of the dough.  Top with rosemary and half of the mozzarella cheese.  Arrange half of the tomatoes on top of the cheese, overlapping slices and mixing colors.  Add a pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon), half of the basil, all of the oregano and the remaining mozzarella cheese.  Arrange the remaining tomatoes on top and add another pinch of salt.  Cover tomatoes with remaining basil and the parmesan cheese.

Gently bring up the excess dough to contain the filling, overlapping it onto itself to create the complete tart.  Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet (lined with a baking pad or silpat if you have it).  Use a pasty brush to bush the egg mixture on all exposed dough surfaces. 

Bake tart for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Remove from oven and let tart rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Diners Must Sign Waiver Before Eating Burger]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:15:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kpnx-ghost-burger.jpg 08/11/14: Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Scottsdale, Arizona claims they're home to the world's spiciest hamburger. Reporter Gia Vang from NBC station KPNX reports.]]> <![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Movie Night Picnic In The Park]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:11:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/225*120/WWCaprese2.jpg

I recently enjoyed “movie night” in Chicago’s Millennium Park with a group of friends.  The entire evening was a lot of fun and, as always, there was plenty of food.  We sort of had a pot luck with everyone bringing a little something to share.  The wonderful spread, including my friend Leland Couchman’s avocado and white balsamic seafood dipping sauce, inspired me to share a few ideas for your next picnic in the park.  Many of these ideas either began with prepared items to which I added a few things, or are very simple recipes that require minimal preparation. The focus of an evening like this should be relaxing and enjoying a casual night in the park with friends as opposed to spending a lot of time doing prep work in the kitchen.  Also, because it’s an outdoor event away from home, I’ve used plasticware, disposable containers, paper plates and individual mason jars for added convenience and easy clean up.

Shrimp and Salmon with Capers and Dipping Sauces
based on an idea from Leland Couchman

Ingredients

3/4 lb Cooked Shrimp, from the deli counter
3/4 lb Poached Salmon, from the deli counter
1 jar Capers
1 Ripe Avocado, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
Juice of 2 Limes
2 tsp Dijon (Leland recommends using aioli garlic dijon for an even bigger flavor)
3 tsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cu BBQ Sauce, your favorite brand
1 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 tsp Finely Minced Shallots
1 Lemon, cut into wedges

Method

Place shrimp and salmon on a serving platter and wrap with plastic wrap and keep chilled until ready to serve.  Pour capers into either a small disposable container or 4 ounce Mason Jar and set aside.  Make the avocado dipping sauce by placing the avocado, lime juice, dijon and balsamic in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  If you are using a large avocado or it isn't overly ripe, you might need to add a bit of water to get a smooth creamy consistency.  Transfer to the same type of container as the capers.  To make the second sauce, combine the barbecue sauce, hot sauce and minced shallots. Squeeze the juice from one of the lemon wedges into the mix and transfer to another small container.  Put the remaining lemon wedges into a fourth container.  When ready to serve, simple unwrap the seafood and open all four containers and allow guests to serve themselves.

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Brie
makes 20 wraps

Ingredients

10 All Natural Dates, pitted and sliced in half
2 1/2 tsp Brie Cheese
1/4 lb Prosciutto, thinly sliced then cut into strips about 3" x 1 1/2"
20 Toothpicks (or wooden skewers)

Method

Place about 1/4 tsp of brie cheese on the cut surface of a date half.  Wrap with a slice of prosciutto and secure it with a toothpick.  Place in a sealable container until ready to serve.

Caprese Skewers
makes 20 skewers

Ingredients

20 Cherry Sized Mozzarella Balls
20 Grape Tomatoes
20 medium to small Fresh Basil Leaves (or large leaves split lengthwise)
20 Wooden Skewers

Method

Skewer a tomato and slide it about 3” down.  Fold a basil leaf in half and slide it onto the skewer up against the tomato.  Add a mozzarella ball and slide it up against the basil leaf.   Place skewers in a sealable container until ready to serve.

Chicken Salad with Carrots and Grapes in Lettuce Cups
makes about 4-6 appetizer servings

Ingredients

1 lb Prepared Chicken Salad, from the deli counter
1/2 cu Shredded Carrots
1 cu Seedless Grapes, sliced in half
1 head of Iceberg Lettuce

Method

Mix together chicken salad, carrots and grapes and place in a sealable bowl.  Gently remove 6-8 (or more) leaves from the lettuce.  Rinse them and let them dry.  Place the leaves in a sealable plastic container and keep chilled until ready to serve.  To serve, allow guests to simply spoon a portion of chicken salad into a “lettuce cup” and wrap it around the filling.

Strawberries in Mason Jars
fills two 12 ounce mason jars

Ingredients

4 oz Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Heavy Cream
2 tsp Powdered Sugar
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
1 lb Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Mint (optional), 2-3 medium sized leaves, chiffonade

Method

Mix together mascarpone, vanilla, heavy cream, powdered sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
Remove the stems from the strawberries.  Stand the strawberry upright and slice it vertically, creating 3-4 slices.  Fill about 1/3 of each mason jar with strawberries. Top the strawberries with about 1/4 of the mascarpone mixture.  Add more strawberries to reach the 2/3 mark in the jars and then top with another 1/4 of the mascarpone mixture.  Fill the jars with the remaining strawberries and top with fresh mint and seal.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.  To serve, simply open the jars and eat with a spoon.  Each jar can be shared or enjoyed by one person.

Thanks again to Leland Couchman for his contribution to this segment.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Carne Asada Street Tacos]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:15:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWStreetTacos.jpg

I recently spent two weeks in San Francisco and had the pleasure of sampling quite a variety of flavorful dishes, from high end restaurants to casual take out kitchens.  One of my favorite meals was from a simple restaurant called Street Tacos in the Haight Asbury section of the city.  Here’s my interpretation of the carne asada tacos that I enjoyed so much.  The homemade tortillas are really easy to make and the marinade for the skirt steak will really give the tacos a little extra kick.  I hope you enjoy them.

Carne Asada Street Tacos
makes 12-14 tacos

Ingredients

meat and marinade

2 lb Skirt Steak
1 cu Water
1/4 cu Salt
3 tbl Brown Sugar
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled smashed and minced
2 Limes
1/3 cu Tequila
1/2 cu Triple Sec
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 cu Extra Virgin Olive Oil

tortillas, salsa fresca and garnish

2 lg Tomatoes, chopped
1 med White Onion, chopped
1 sm Jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 cu Cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Limes, cut into wedges
12-14 Corn Tortillas (recipe below)

Method

Lay skirt steak on a flat surface.  If the steak still has a thin membrane on one side (called the silver skin), peel it off the steak using a sharp knife and discard.  That extra skin will make the meat tough and chewy.  Using a meat tenderizer, flatten the steak a bit on both sides and then transfer it to a large disposable bag.

Meanwhile, pour water, salt and brown sugar in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir until ingredients are fully dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Then, add the garlic, the zest of one of the limes and the juice of both, tequila, triple sec, black pepper, chili powder, and cumin.  Whisk in the olive oil and pour marinade over steak.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal it.  Refrigerate for for 4-24 hours. 

To cook the steak, remove it from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels.  Season with a bit of pepper.  Heat a sauce pan over high heat.  Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the steak.  Cook the steak for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side for medium rare, or loner for your desired doneness.  Remove from heat and place on a cutting board and let it rest for about 2-3 minutes.

Separately, make the salsa fresca by mixing together tomatoes, onions, jalapeño and cilantro in a large bowl.  Season with salt and set aside. 

Slice and chop skirt steak into 1/4” cubes.  Place tortillas on serving plates.  Top with steak and salsa fresca.  Squeeze a bit of lime over the filling and serve.

Corn Tortillas
makes 12-14

Ingredients

2 cu Corn Masa
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Adobo Seasoning
1 3/4 - 2 cu Water
1 tortilla press, available at most housewares stores
Tortilla Warmer (also available at many housewares stores) or clean towel and casserole dish

Method

Mix together corn masa, salt and adobo seasoning.  Add 1 3/4 cup water, plus 2 tablespoons, and blend.  The dough should not be too moist.  You should be able to press it into a ball, but it shouldn’t be sticky.  Open the tortilla press and place plastic wrap on both surfaces.  Roll some of the dough into about the size of a golf ball.  Place on press and smash down a bit.  Close press fully to flatten tortilla.  Open press and peel tortilla from the plastic.  If the tortilla comes off in one piece without sticking to the plastic, then the moisture ratio is good.  If it does stick, place the tortilla back in the batch and add about 2 tablespoons or so of masa.  Mix and try again.  If the mix works well, then divide the remaining dough into 11-13 equal portions.  Preheat a flat skillet over hight heat.  Place the first flattened tortilla into the skillet.  Cook on one side for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Flip and cook on the second for about 1 1/2 minutes.  The tortilla might puff up a bit, but that’s fine.  Place tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrap in a tea towel and place inside of a covered casserole dish until ready to use.  Repeat with remaining dough.

If you’re not eating them immediately, store tortillas in an airtight disposable bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing, and refrigerate.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 
 

]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Giant Family-Sized Burger]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 20:46:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/161*120/AvacadoBurger.JPG

It’s a big holiday weekend and I thought a fun way to celebrate would be with a big family sized burger large enough to serve four.  The homemade poppy seed bun is also oversized and big enough to hold the 1 1/2 pound patty and a anything else you want to pile on top.  I built my big burger with a number of tasty toppings , but feel free to customize yours any way you like.  Because of the burger’s size, a vegetable grilling basket is an efficient way to get the patty to the grill and flip it without worrying about it falling apart.

FAMILY SIZE BURGER
serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb Ground Sirloin, about 90% lean
1 cu Finely Minced Onion
3 tbl Finely Minced Jalapeño Pepper
1 1/2 tbl Wayne’s Beef Grilling Spice Mix (recipe below)
1 Large Burger Bun (recipe below)
Optional Equipment: 8” Cake Pan, Wax Paper, Flat Rectangular Vegetable Grilling Basket, Instant Read Thermometer

Condiments and Toppings (all optional)

Green Leaf Lettuce
1 lg Tomato, sliced
Mustard
Ketchup
Dill Pickle Slices
5 slices Mild Cheddar Cheese
Fresh Basil Leaves
1 Avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed

Method

Prepare your grill and spray the grilling basked with cooking spray.  Combine ground sirloin, onion, jalapeño and grilling spice mix in a large bowl and mix well.  Place a sheet of wax paper into the cake pan.  Transfer ground sirloin into pan.  Spread mixture out to a uniform size but create a “donut hole” in the center, about 1 1/2” in diameter (to help patty cook more evenly and quickly).   Lay one side of the grilling basket over the pan and carefully flip both over.  Remove pan and wax paper.  Close vegetable basket and place on the grill.  Grill on one side for about 5-7 minutes and then flip the basket.  Grill the second side for an additional 5-7 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F (as recommended by the USDA).  An instant read thermometer is very useful in determining internal temperature of grilled food.

Remove patty from grill and add cheese.  Let patty rest for about 5 minutes.  To assemble burger, slice large bun in half and place the bottom on a serving platter.  Spread mustard on bottom.  Arrange lettuce on the bun and top with ketchup.  Add meat patty, followed basil, tomato slices and avocado.  Cover with the top of the bun.  Serve by slicing the burger into wedges.

FAMILY SIZE HAMBURGER BUN
makes 1 bun about 8” in diameter

Yeast Starter

2 1/4 tsp Yeast
1 tbl Brown Sugar
2 tbl All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cu Warm Water - about 105-110 degrees F
1 tbl Olive Oil

Bread Mix

2 cu All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cu Wheat Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 lg Egg, room temperature, whisked
2/3 cup Warm Water - about 105 degrees F
2 tsp Olive Oil

Topping

1 tbl Butter, melted
1/2 tsp Poppy seeds

Method

Mix yeast with the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour in small bowl.  Add 1/3 cup of the warm water and stir to combine.  Let the mixture activate for 10 minutes and then stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Separately, mix remaining all-purpose flour, wheat flour and salt in a large bowl.  Stir in egg, water and yeast mixture.  Mix thoroughly and transfer to a lightly floured board.  Knead for 10 minutes, working a little more flour into the dough, if necessary, until it is elastic and no longer sticky. Pour the 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to coat all surfaces. Cover to rise for 1 1/2 hours until doubled in bulk.  Punch down and roll into a ball.  Place dough in a lightly floured 8” cake pan.  Let it rise for an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush the exposed surface of the dough with the butter and sprinkle poppy seeds on top. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown and sounds hollow when you thump it.  Cool completely before slicing and using for your big burger.

CATTLE DRIVE


Beef Grilling Spice Mix

Ingredients

2 tsp Paprika

2 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder

1 1/2 tsp Brown Sugar

2 tsp Sage

1 tsp Celery Seed

1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder

2 tsp Rosemary

1 1/2  tsp Tarragon
2 tsp Parsley

Method

Mix ingredients together and either grind in spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle.  Store in an airtight container.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[How to Make Korean BBQ]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:29:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000007733132_1200x675_288002115631.jpg Award-winning Chef Bill Kim joins NBC Chicago's LeeAnn Trotter for a quick example of how to make your summer bbq new and sizzling.]]> <![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Mango Carrot Coconut Soup]]> Thu, 29 May 2014 14:35:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/MangoCarrotCoconutSoup.JPG

Now that warm weather has arrived, we are finally firing up our grills and smokers and loading them up with ribs, chicken, brisket, fish and burgers.  To help you with your next meal, I’ve created a set of four grilling spices and a barbecue sauce that’ll add a little extra kick to whatever’s on your menu.  You’ll find the link to the recipes below.  I usually double or triple the recipes so I have enough to last a good part of the season and to portion out in smaller bottles for friends.  They make great gifts. 

Because these recipes add quite a bit of spicy flavor to anything you’re grilling, this mango carrot coconut soup is the perfect first course.  The sweet tartness is a nice contrast to the smokey grilled flavors of your main course.  It ’s also a perky palate cleanser if you’ve had appetizers before starting your meal.  Also, because the soup can be made early in the day or the day before, it’s worry free once your guests arrive.

Mango Coconut Carrot Soup
makes 6 cups

Ingredients

1 1/2 tbl Ginger, finely minced
3 lg Carrots, shredded, yielding about 1 1/2 cups packed
4 lg Mangos, peeled sliced and chopped, seed discarded, about 2 1/2 - 3 lbs
1 cu Fresh Orange Juice
1 cu Coconut Milk
1/2 tsp Tumeric
Juice of 2 Limes
1 cu Shredded Coconut

Method

Place ginger in a heat proof bowl and set aside.  Place carrots in a small pot.  Add 3 cups of water just to cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Turn off heat and carefully pour 1/2 cup of the hot liquid over ginger.  Strain carrots and discard remaining liquid.  Allow carrots and ginger water to cool. 

Take about 1/2 of one mango and make a small dice. Toss in 1/4 of the lime juice and set aside.  Put remaining mango in a blender.  Add cooled carrots, ginger and water, orange juice, coconut milk, cumin and remaining lime juice.  Puree ingredients until fully blended, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from blender and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Meanwhile, place shredded coconut in a dry saucepan over medium high heat.  Constantly stir with a wooden spoon until coconut begins to brown.  Watch carefully.  Coconut will burn very soon after browning.  As soon as coconut lightly toasted, remove form heat and transfer to wax paper or a paper towel to cool. 

To serve, pour soup in chilled bowls or glasses and top with a bit of diced mango and coconut.

Additional Resources

Wayne’s Grilling Spices & BBQ Sauce Recipes

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Family Friendly Summer Drinks]]> Thu, 15 May 2014 13:26:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWGlasswareAndContainers.jpg

A great start to outdoor entertaining as warmer weather returns is a cool refreshing drink.  Since many summer parties include both children and adults, I thought I share some family friendly non-alcoholic ideas that everyone can enjoy.  All three of these drinks use lots of fresh fruit and two start off with a batch of homemade infused simple syrups.  They’re all easy to prepare and will be a welcome refresher this summer season.

The NBC5 Smoothie
8 servings

Ingredients

3 Nectarines
2 Bananas
1 cu Coconut Milk
2 Naval Oranges
1 cu Water
3 cu Ice

Method

Fill a blender with 3 cups of ice.  Slice the nectarines and discard the seeds.  Add the slices to the blender.  Peel and slice the bananas and add to the blender.  Slice the top and bottom off of one of the oranges.  Set the orange upright and slice the sides off the orange.  Cut the oranges segments away from the pith and add to blender.  Add coconut milk and water.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into tall glasses.  Slice second orange and garnish glasses.

Ginger Strawberry Splash
8 Servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cu Ginger Simple Syrup (1 1/2 cu water, 1 1/2 cu sugar, 2 tbl fresh ginger, peeled and chopped)
1 1/2 cu Strawberries, chopped
4 cu Orange Juice
2 cu Limeade
24oz Ginger Beer
Additional Strawberries for garnish

Method

To make the simple syrup, place water, sugar and ginger in a pot.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar.  Once water reaches a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Refrigerate until cold.  Strain ginger from simple syrup before using.

Place 1 1/2 cups of chilled simple syrup and strawberries in a blender and blend thoroughly.  Strain and pour liquid into a pitcher.  Add orange juice and limeade.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  To serve, pour mixture over ice in a tall glass, top with about 2 ounces of ginger beer and stir.  Garnish with a strawberry wedged onto the rim of the glass.

Non Alcoholic White Sangria
8 servings

Ingredients

2 cu Light Lemon Simple Syrup (1 1/2 cu water, 1 cu sugar, juice and zest of one lemon)
4 cu White Grape Juice
2 cu Apple Juice
1 lg Naval Orange, thinly sliced
1 lg Lemon, thinly sliced
2 lg Limes, thinly sliced
1 Pear, chopped
1 Granny Smith Apple, chopped
1 cu Green Grapes, sliced
8-12 Pitted Cherries with stems
12-18oz Chilled Diet Ginger Ale

Method

To make the simple syrup, place water, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a pot.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar.  Once water reaches a boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.  Refrigerate until cold.  Strain zest from simple syrup before using.

Pour 2 cups of chilled simple syrup, grape juice and apple juice into a large pitcher.  Set aside 4 orange, 4 lemon and 4 lime slices.  Add remaining slices to thie pitcher.  Add pear, apple and half of the grapes. Stir and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Slice remaining orange, lemon and lime slices in half for garnish.  To serve, place one of each half slice, a few grapes and cherry into individual glasses with ice.  Add ginger ale to pitcher.  Stir and pour over glasses.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Appetizer Trio For Outdoor Entertaining]]> Wed, 07 May 2014 13:42:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWBaconCheddarJalapenoBiscuits.jpg

The best way to start an evening of entertaining with family or friend is with great drinks and an assortment of tasty "nibbly bits", simple appetizers that are full of flavor but easy to make. With outdoor entertaining just about here, this trio is a nice combination of flavors and perfect on platters for your balcony or patio. Elements for each of these recipes can be made in advance so you're not scrambling around the kitchen when your guests arrive.

Mini Jalapeño, Bacon and Cheese Bites

Ingredients

9 oz Bacon, cooked through but not too crispy, then drained on paper towels
2 cu All Purpose Flour
1/2 cu Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
3 tbl Cold Butter, grated through a box grater, then kept chilled in the refrigerator
1 lg Jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
3/4 cu Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 cu Buttermilk
1 cu Panko Bread Crumbs, in a bowl
3 tbl Additional Butter, melted in a small container

Method

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Finely chop bacon and set aside.  Mix together flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add chilled butter and quickly mix with your hands until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add bacon, jalapeño and cheese.  Add buttermilk and mix until everything is just combined.  Scoop out 1 tablespoon sized portions onto a work surface.  Shape each into a ball and then roll in the bread crumbs to coat.  Set coated ball on a baking sheet and space it about 2” away from other balls. You’ll need two baking sheets.  Once you’ve formed and coated all of the balls, pour a tiny bit of butter on top of each.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and pour a bit more of remaining butter on top of each ball.  Cool a bit before serving.

Bruschetta

Ingredients

1 Baguette
2 large Garlic Cloves, peeled and cut in half
1/4 cu Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lb  Plum Tomatoes, about 6 medium
5-6 Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar

Method

Preheat broiler or a grill.  Slice baguette at an extreme angle to create as much surface area as possible. Place slices on a baking sheet (or directly on your grill rack).  Broil or grill until first surface is golden brown.  Flip slices and brown the other side.  Remove from heat and rub one surface with garlic.  Lightly brush the same surface with olive oil.  Set aside.  

Separately, cut off the stem end of tomatoes and then slice in half.  With a spoon or your fingers, remove and discard the seeds.  Chop tomatoes into a small dice and place in a large bowl.  Add remaining olive oil, basil leaves, salt and balsamic vinegar.  Toss to combine, taste for seasoning and adjust to your preference.  Cover with plastic until ready to use.

Arrange bruschetta slices on a serving platter and spoon tomatoes mixture on top using a slotted spoon.

Smoked Turkey Deviled Eggs

1 dozen lg Eggs
3 oz Smoked Turkey
2 tbl Minced Shallots
1/4 cu Light Mayonnaise
2 tbl Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbl Fresly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tbl Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
1 tsp Chili Powder

Method

Place eggs in a large pot.  Fill with room temperature water to cover eggs by about an inch.  Place pot over high heat and bring water to a boil.  As soon as water starts to boil, remove from heat and cover pot.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Remove top and rinse eggs in tap water to cool.  Once fully cool, peel eggs.  Slice eggs in half and place yolks in a bowl.  Place egg halves in a container and cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Separately, place smoked turkey and shallots in a food processor.  Process until smoothed into a paste.  Stop food processor and add yolks, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Process until fully blended and smooth.  Add a bit more mayonnaise if you’d like a smoother consistency.  Transfer mixture to a sealable plastic bag and remove as much air as possible.  

Arrange egg halves on a serving platter.  Make a small cut into one of the corners of the sealable bag.  Squeeze mixture into egg halves.  Sprinkle parsley, parmesan cheese and chili powder on top of each egg and serve.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Chicken And Dumplings]]> Thu, 01 May 2014 14:01:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWChickenDumplings.JPG

One of my favorite dishes growing up was my mom’s chicken and dumplings.  This very southern dish is usually a one pot meal that is somewhere between a chicken soup and a chicken stew with large flour based dumplings floating on top.  I decided to take my mom’s recipe and give it a new look.  This version has virtually the same ingredients but it’s presented more as a layered dish and is assembled just before serving.  It is rich, tasty, and still makes me think of mom every time I make it.

Chicken and Dumplings
serves 6-8

Ingredients

Chicken and Stock

1 lg Onion, roughly chopped
2 Celery Stalks, roughly chopped
2 lg Carrots, roughly chopped
4 cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
3-4 Rosemary Stalks
2 Bay Leaves
3-4 Oregano Stems
1 whole chicken, cut up, about 4 lbs
2 Bouillon Cubes
14 cu Water

Dumplings

2 cu All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tso Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
2 tbl cold butter
1 cu buttermilk
1/4 cu Chicken Stock
2 tbl Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

Gravy

1 cu All Purpose Flour
1/4 cu Cold Butter, cut into small pieces
6 cu Chicken Stock
1/4 tsp Pepper

Carrots

4-6 lg Carrots, sliced
1 tbl Butter

Garnish (optional)

Additional Chopped Parsley
Black Pepper

Method

Place all of the chicken and stock ingredients into a large stockpot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.  Remove chicken pieces and return stock to a high simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes to reduce by about 1/4.  Remove from heat, allow to cool, then strain and reserve the stock.  You should have at least 8 cups of stock.  Discard stock vegetables and herbs.  Once chicken has cooled, remove and discard the skin.  Pull chicken from the bones with a fork or your hands, tearing large pieces into smaller ones.  Place in a large casserole, cover with aluminum and set aside.

To make the dumplings, pour about 2 cups of stock into the bottom of a pot large enough for a steamer basket.  Bring to a low simmer.  Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut butter into flour and mix with your hands until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add buttermilk, chicken stock and parsley and mix thoroughly.  Using two large spoons, shape dough into 12 oval shaped dumplings by scooping out dough with one spoon and using the other to shape and scoop it onto a lightly oiled steamer tray.  Steam the dumplings in two or three batches by placing a few dumplings in a single or double tiered steamer basket.  Insert the basket into the pot, cover and steam for 15 minutes.  Remove and place the steamed dumplings in the casserole with the chicken and cover until ready to use.  Repeat with remaining dough.

To make the gravy, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir together for about 4 minutes.  Whisk in Chicken stock.  Simmer and stir until gravy thickens, about 10 minutes.  Season with pepper.  If grave is too thick, thin with additional chicken stock.

Meanwhile, sauté carrots in butter in a saucepan over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes.

To assemble individual servings, place one or two dumplings in a bowl, top with portion of chicken and carrots.  Spoon gravy over the top and garnish with a bit of parsley and a pinch of pepper.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Baconfest 2014 Features All Things Swine]]> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 06:38:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Baconfest_2012_46.jpg

Ladies and gentlemen, start your salivary glands.

The 2014 edition of Baconfest kicks off Friday at the UIC Form on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.

More than 160 chefs will be available through Sunday for the sixth annual event that offers fest-goers the opportunity to dine on succulent swine.

An estimated 8,000 pounds of bacon will get cooked up for the sold-out event.

Tickets for the 2012 fest sold out in three hours. The 2013 edition sold out in just 41 minutes.

A donation of all the proceeds from ticket sales, raffles and donations goes to local food charities. Since 2009, Baconfest has raised more than $85,000, organizers said.


 



Photo Credit: Marcus Riley ]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: A Trio Of Salsas]]> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 13:06:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WWSalsaTrio.JPG

As temperatures slowly start to rise, it’s time to start thinking about outdoor entertaining.  I recently spent an unusually warm afternoon at my friend Joey Chiappetta’s and we sat on the deck and enjoyed a casual nosh of chips and salsas.  Two of the salsas Joey made were a charred tomatillo and a black bean chipotle.  He was happy to share the recipes, so I decided to add one to the mix that contrasted the spiciness of his.  Mine, which is a tomato tequila version, includes a bit of brown sugar for some sweetness.  All three compliment each other and should be served with a few different types chips to add to the variety. 

Tomato Tequila Salsa

Ingredients
       
3 lb Roma Tomatoes       
1 med White Onion, diced
1 lg Jalapeño, stem removed, split and seeded
4 cloves Garlic, smashed peeled and diced
1 tbl Brown Sugar
2 tbl Tequila
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Salt        
3 tbl Fresh Lime Juice
1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped

Method

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Score an “X” on the bottom end of each tomato.  Place tomatoes in the boiling water, a few at a time, for 30-40 seconds.  Remove and allow to cool.  Peel the skin off of the tomatoes.  Discard skin.  Finely chop 1-2 of the tomatoes to yield 1 cup.  Set aside.  Roughly chop the remaining tomatoes and place in a food processor.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of the diced onions and place the remainder in the food processor along with the jalapeño and garlic.  Pulse the processor until ingredients are well blended but still a bit chunky.  Transfer to a large pot and add sugar, tequila, cumin, chili powder, pepper and salt.  Bring to a boil then immediately turn down to a low simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and cool completely.  Add reserved tomatoes, onions, lime juice and cilantro.  Chill, check for seasoning and serving with tortilla chips.

Charred Tomatillo Salsa
courtesy of Joey Chiappetta

ingredients

2lb Tomatillos, husks discarded, then washed and dry tomatillos
1 med White Onion, large dice
2 cloves Garlic, peeled, left whole
1 Jalapeño Pepper, stem removed
1/2 Serrano Pepper, stem removed
1tbl Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Finishing Items:
1 tbl fresh Lime Juice
1/4 cu White Onion, small dice
1/4 cu Cilantro, chopped

Method

Preheat broiler on high heat.  Place rack in the top 1/3 position of the oven.  Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeño & serrano on a sheet tray.  Drizzle with oil and mix together to coat all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under the broiler and let the ingredients char, about 5 minutes.  Flip the ingredients and char on the other side, about another 4-5 minutes.  You don't want the ingredients completely blackened, but you do want some decent color on them.  After broiling, split pepper and remove seeds if you don’t want the extra heat.  Then, puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Place in a bowl to cool.

Once cooled, add fresh lime juice, onion & cilantro to the mixture.  If the salsa is too thick, it's okay to add some water to get it to a proper consistency.  Chill, check for seasoning and serve with tortilla chips.

Chipotle Black Bean Dip
courtesy of Joey Chiappetta

Ingredients

1 med White Onion, medium dice
2 cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 can Tomato Paste, 6oz size
2 cans Black Beans, 14oz size, rinsed and drained
2 Dried Chipotle Peppers
1/4 cu White Vinegar
Water
1tbl Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Method

Cut off the stems of the chipotle peppers and break them open.  Remove the seeds if you want to reduce the heat of this salsa.  Place the peppers in a small bowl and cover with water for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sweat the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil for 5-8 minutes over medium heat.  Add tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add black beans, vinegar, salt and peppers.  Add chipotle peppers and their soaking water.  Fill the pot with enough additional water to just cover the beans.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Puree in blender or food processor.  Chill, check for seasoning and serve with tortilla chips.

Thanks again to Joey Chiappetta for sharing his recipes.  They are great.  If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Wayne's Weekend: Dining Out For Life On April 24, 2014]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:33:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/187*120/DiningOutForLifeCardsAll.jpg

Next Thursday, April 24, 2014, over 3,000 restaurants nationwide will be donating a portion of their proceeds to HIV/AIDS related organizations.  It’s called Dining Out For Life and, since 1991, millions of dollars have been raised to support men, women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS.  Last year over 300,000 individuals supported Dining Out For Life simply by having a meal at a participating restaurant.  This year, there are over 55 restaurants participating and proceeds will be going to Edge Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing a healthy and stable environment for the individuals and communities impacted by HIV/AIDS.  You’ll find more information on their website at EdgeAlliance.org.  Below is a list of participating restaurants in Chicagoland.  You can get additional information about Dining Out For Life and these restaurants at DiningOutForLife.com.
 

  • 312 Chicago
  • Acre
  • Ann Sather Restaurant
  • Anna Maria Pasteria
  • Anteprima
  • Atwood Cafe
  • Avenue Tavern
  • Azzurra
  • The Bagel Restaurant and Deli
  • Bar Pastoral
  • Big Jones
  • Bistro Campagne
  • Bistronomic
  • Bite Cafe
  • Bluegrass
  • Bountiful Eatery
  • Broadway Cellars
  • Browntrout
  • Carnivale
  • The Chicago Diner - Lakeview
  • The Chicago Diner - Logan Square
  • Club Lucky
  • Crew Bar & Grill
  • Cucina Paradiso
  • Francesca's Bryn Mawr
  • Giordano's - Belmont
  • Giordano's - Jackson
  • Halsted's Bar & Grill
  • Hamburger Mary's
  • HB Home Bistro
  • Jack's on Halsted
  • Lady Gregory's
  • Las Mananitas
  • Longman & Eagle
  • Mia Francesca
  • Nookies Edgewater
  • Ombra
  • Pasteur Restaurant
  • Sable Kitchen & Bar
  • Salpicon
  • The Signature Room At the 95th
  • Silver Cloud
  • Sola
  • Southwater Kitchen
  • Spacca Napoli
  • Spritz Burger
  • Swirlz Cupcakes
  • Table Fifty-Two
  • Taverna 750
  • Uncommon Ground
  • Vivere
  • Wilde Bar & Restaurant
  • Wishbone Restaurant
  • Wood


Special thanks to Signature Room at the 95th, Club Lucky, Anteprima, Big Jones and Spacca Napoli for sending a few tasty samples from their menus to NBC Chicago for this segment.

If you have any comments or questions, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
 



Photo Credit: Wayne Johnson]]>
<![CDATA[Zagat Names Chicago's "30 Under 30" Culinary "Superstars"]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:45:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/fork+generic.jpg

Zagat has released its third annual "Chicago 30 Under 30" list of the city’s top "up-and-coming culinary industry superstars" under the age of 30.

This year's list of honorees includes a cheesemonger, chicken expert, brewer and a sausage maker.

"This year, we ventured further," Zagat writes in its blog, "to find honorees who are not only preparing incredible food and drinks in some of the city’s top restaurants and bars, but are also growing the produce and crafting the spirits that make eating out possible in the first place."

The list is below. For a map of the restaurants, click here.

  • Sieger Bayer, 27, Chef de Cuisine at Leghorn Fried Chicken
  • Bryan Bland, 29, Head Cheesemonger at Bar Pastoral
  • Lisa Bonjour, 29, Pastry Chef at mk The Restaurant
  • Joe and Mac Boumaroun, 29 and 27, Owners at 25 Degrees Restaurant
  • Brendan Blume and Matthew Ritchey, 26 and 29, Co-Owner and Co-Owner/Head Brewer at Begyle Brewing, Co.
  • Simon Davies, 24, Chef de Cuisine at Alinea
  • Zaida Mikayla Dedolph, 26, Retail Manager at Intelligentsia Coffee Old Town
  • Elana Green, 27, Director of Operations at Land & Sea Dept
  • Tim Havidic, 24, Executive Chef at iNG
  • Adam Hebert, 26, Owner and Managing Partner at The Radler
  • Kelly Helgesen, 28, Pastry Chef at Lula Cafe
  • Courtney Joseph, 27, Pastry Chef at Takashi and Slurping Turtle
  • Gregory Laketek, 28, Owner and Salumiere at West Loop Salumi
  • Jacqlyn Lancaster and Jeremy Leven, 28 and 29, Managing Partner and Chef/Partner at Tuesday Night Dinner and Border Oak
  • Wade Hall McElroy, 28, Managing Partner at Sportsman's Club
  • Kevin McMullen, 27, Executive Chef at The Brixton
  • Micah Melton, 28, Chef de Cuisine (Cocktails) at The Aviary
  • Dave and Megan Miller, 29 and 25, Co-Owner and Co-Owner/Pastry Chef at Bang Bang Pie Shop
  • Kate Purvis, 28, Market & Sales Manager and Volunteer Coordinator at Plant Chicago NFP and Entrepreneur at The Salty Prawn
  • Alex Renshaw, 29, Beverage Director at DrumBar and Menin Hospitality
  • Dan Salls, 26, Owner and Chef at The Salsa Truck & The Garage
  • Anna Shovers, 28, Pastry Chef at The Publican and Publican Quality Meats
  • Jenny Solberg, 26, Co-Owner and Operator at Rhine Hall Distillery
  • Erin Stanley, 27, Sausage Maker at The Butcher & Larder
  • Edward Sura, 29, Chef de Cuisine at Perennial Virant
  • Christopher Teixeira, 26, Executive Pastry Chef at Homestead on the Roof, Berkshire Room and West Town Bakery
  • Jennifer Tietz, 29, Wine Director at Tru Restaurant
  • Aaryn Thompson, 29, Bartender at Big Star
  • Michael Trow, 29, Assistant General Manager, Beverage Director and Spiritual Advisor at River Roast
  • Greg Wade, 25, Head Baker at Little Goat

]]>
<![CDATA[Company Makes Coffee With A Purpose]]> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 23:42:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Aspire+CoffeeWorks.png Aspire, a non-profit that helps children and adults with developmental disabilities, has partnered with Metropolis Coffee Company to make coffee that Makes a Difference. Aspire CoffeeWorks can be bought online, at Whole Foods and select coffee shops. Art Norman reports.]]> <![CDATA[Yelp Unveils Top 100 Places To Eat in United States]]> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:38:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ALINEA_722x406_2225179709.jpg

Yelp this week unveiled a list of the top 100 places to eat in the United States based on data from reviews across the site.

Among the "must-try spots," Illinois snagged three positions on the list with offerings ranging from a high-end hotspot to a buzz-worthy hot dog stand to a chain steakhouse in the suburbs.

Grant Achatz's award-winning Alinea ranked seventh, followed by Hot Doug's at No. 27 and the Downers Grove location of Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse at No. 37.

The rest of the list was just diverse. How did Yelp compile it?

"We dug in to our wealth of rich data to see what the numbers told us about which places Yelpers really love," the team explains on Yelp's blog. "Engineers on Yelp’s data mining team used a technique based on the Wilson Score to compile a list of highly rated places to eat. This method takes into account both star rating and number of reviews to reveal which spots not only have top notch ratings, but also which are most popular in the Yelp community."
 
Here's a look at the top 25:

1. Da Poke Shack, Kailua-Kona, HI
2. Paseo, Seattle, WA
3. Oklahoma Joe’s Barbecue, Kansas City, KS
4. The Cinnamon Snail, New York, NY
5. Porto's Bakery, Burbank, CA
6. Dametra Cafe, Carmel by the Sea, CA
7. Alinea, Chicago, IL
8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
9. Gary Danko, San Francisco, CA
10. Joe’s Falafel, Los Angeles, CA
11. Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu, HI
12. Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, Denver, CO
13. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, San Diego, CA
14. Coop’s West Texas Barbeque, Lemon Grove, CA
15. Tacos El Gordo, Chula Vista, CA
16. Cheese Board Pizza, Berkeley, CA
17. Ricky’s Fish Tacos, Los Angeles, CA
18. Ono Seafood, Honolulu, HI
19. Bogart’s Smoke House, Saint Louis, MO
20. Bakery Nouveau, Seattle, WA
21. Baguette Cafe, Las Vegas, NV
22. Eleven Madison Park, New York, NY
23. T-Deli, San Diego, CA
24. Built to Grill, Portland, OR
25. Alforon, San Diego, CA

For the full list, click here.

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<![CDATA["World's Largest" Ketchup Home Eyes Brat Record]]> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 12:20:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bratwurst.jpg

Belleville doesn't expect to be hotdogging it when the southwestern Illinois community celebrates its bicentennial. That's because this 200th birthday blowout is all about the brat.

In a region already sporting what's billed as the "World's Largest Ketchup Bottle," the Belleville News-Democrat reports Belleville hopes to set a Guinness world record for the longest grilled bratwurst.


Organizers say volunteers will cook a 200-foot brat during Oktoberfest weekend in September in the city's downtown.

Teresa Hessel of the celebration's organizing committee says the brat can't break if it's to set a record, and talks are in the works about building a grill big enough to cook the giant sausage.

Organizers are awaiting word about whether any such record exists or if Belleville will go for one in a new category.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Plans Third Drive-Thru Window]]> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 14:39:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mcdonalds+sex+assault+arrest.jpg

McDonald's Corp. will add a third drive-thru window to some of its restaurants in an effort to increase speed and efficiency for customers, and minimize complaints about slow service.

The new addition will serve as a second pick-up window, The Chicago Tribune reported via Bloomberg. Currently, drivers order their food at the first window and drive to the second for pick up. Often, however, the order isn't ready in time and drivers are asked to pull into a parking space or designated waiting area. 

McDonald's spokeswoman Lisa McComb said the proposed new window allows customers to pull forward if their order isn't immediately ready. In turn, McComb said they will be able to serve more customers quickly.

The new window is a welcome addition for disgruntled customers, according to the Tribune. Many believe a larger menu makes orders more difficult to put together while slowing down the restaurant's overall service.

McDonald's completes drive-thru orders in 189 seconds on average. This is slower than restaurants like Taco Bell and Wendy's, which take 158 seconds and 134 seconds, respectively.

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<![CDATA[7 Chicago Pizzas Make List of Best 101 Pies]]> Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:57:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/Lou+Malnati%27s+Deep+Dish.jpg

In a new list of the 101 best pizzas in America, seven Chicago spots got its slice of the pie.

Not bad, considering TripAdvisor reviewers snubbed Windy City 'za altogether this summer.

Editors at food-and-drink website The Daily Meal asked 46 panelists to narrow down the best pizzas from a list of more than 400 from across the country. Thirty came from New York state and 12 from California.

Chicago's highest honor went to Spacca Napoli's Bufalina at No. 23 thanks to its "unique take on Neapolitan-style pizza." Lou Malnati's Chicago Classic pizza snagged the city's second showing on the list at a rather low No. 37.

"Does it say something that the first Chicago deep-dish pizzeria on this list of the 101 best pizzas in America ranks number 37?" the site points out. "Sounds like a question a New Yorker would ask. Maybe because deep-dish pizza isn’t actually pizza, but a casserole?"

Hmm ...

Gino’s East ranks No. 40 thanks to its cheese deep-dish 'za, Pizzeria Uno comes in at No. 51 and Falco's Pizza & Pasta's thin-crust sausage hangs in there at No. 61.

The Daily Meal tips its hat to "stuffed pizza" with a No. 78 ranking for Giordano's Pizza.

"Whether or not you believe anything this thick is served in Italy and claimed there to be Italian, there are now some 40 locations in Chicago (and three in Florida) serving this version of stuffed pizza."

Last but not least, Vito & Nick’s sausage pie ranks at No. 79.

As for No. 1? That honor went to Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, Conn.



Photo Credit: Lou Malnati's ]]>
<![CDATA[Fox & Obel Declares Bankruptcy]]> Fri, 20 Sep 2013 10:59:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/fox-and-obel.jpg

Chicago grocery institution Fox & Obel filed for bankruptcy on Thursday. Reportedly, the company owes the IRS around $382,000, food supplier Sysco $345,000 and is also in debt to its management company for $257,000.

The store, at 401 E. Illinois St., has had its share of troubles stretching far, far back — and its glory days of 2005, when Oprah named its oatmeal cookie dough as one of her “favorite things,” are obviously quite a distant memory.

The debt to various companies is one issue altogether, but the fact of the matter is that the culture and upscale grocery landscape has changed tremendously since F&O first opened its doors in summer 2001. The novelty of organic foods, extensive wine selections, and in-store cafés in a supermarket are much more commonplace today in 2013. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are but two examples of a bigger trend happening nationwide. There’s Mariano’s, which proudly advertises in its aisles the sheer variety of produce it stocks and also has a pianist setting the tone when people walk in. And an oyster bar.

As those other stores were gaining traction, Fox & Obel became known for having prices on par with Whole Foods, but not much else to distinguish it. Which, I suppose, is a long way of saying that just because you were once popular doesn’t mean you always will be. And, although people are bemoaning how lousy the economy is or was, one trend running concurrently with it is how people are not skimping on luxury indulgences. Maybe it’s a form of denial happening in the population, who knows, but it’s a fact. And what better way to indulge and luxuriate than with a $9 pink lady apple?

Well, the better way seems to be do so at places that indulge that mentality further themselves.

Here’s hoping Fox & Obel can turn things around, though. Like Groupon to the tech scene, it’s no stretch to say Fox & Obel helped prime Chicago for bigger things in its sector.

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.



Photo Credit: elstopfoodhunt.wordpress.com ]]>