Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

May 22, 2016

Hash Browns: Easier Than You Think

The potato. Rooted deep in Russian dogma, you can bet that my blood will regularly test positive for tubers. 

Last week I began a food jag that I have since repeated more times than I care to admit. I started making my own hash browns. This takes just a few minutes to prep, and about 15 to cook. 

Minutes to Magic
1# potatoes (russets or yellow, preferably organic)
1/2 an onion
garlic powder
oil or butter (or both)

food processor with shredder disc
or a box grater
cheesecloth* or a clean kitchen towel (or paper towels)
a large bowl
10" nonstick pan (or well-seasoned cast iron)
flexible cutting board 

To peel or not to peel...
If the potatoes are organic and the skins are relatively blemish-free, just give them a good scrub with a vegetable brush and some cold water. Otherwise, peel them. If using a food processor, attach the shredder disc, and cut the potatoes in half widthwise so they'll fit into the feeder. Cut the root end off the onion, and peel off the outer layers. Grate the onions and potatoes together. If you don't have a food processor, grate them on a box grater. 
Squeeze all the liquid out of the potatoes and onions. Paper towels usually tear, so I prefer using a cheesecloth or clean kitchen towel. Twist the cloth to help push the potatoes into a ball, then squeeze the ball as you twist to get as much liquid out as possible. This will give you crisp hash browns instead of mush. 
Toss the shreds with salt & pepper (the basics), and add whatever other seasoning you like (I like garlic powder and turmeric). 
Heat the pan on medium-high, and add 2T oil (or butter, or 1T each). Coat the pan, and spread your shreds evenly, tucking in the edges and patting the whole thing down with a spatula. You want it packed so when you flip it over, it doesn't fall apart. Turn the heat down to med-low, and cook for about 8 minutes. This will vary depending on the heat and what type of pan you use. 
Use the spatula to loosen the edges a bit, and in one quick confident motion, flop the whole thing out onto a cutting board. Turn the heat back up to med-high, add 2T of oil, and slide the whole thing back in to brown the other side. Turn the heat down to med-low, and cook for about 5-8 minutes. Serve immediately. 
Flipping the potatoes out onto a flexible cutting board makes it easy to slide them back into the pan. The name of the game is CONFIDENCE.

Variations: During the summer you may want to add some grated zucchini, and during the winter, you can try a variety of root vegetables. Top with a fried egg for a heavenly experience. 

*You can find cheesecloth at a fabric store, Cake Art in San Rafael, or Sur La Table. It's inexpensive, infinitely reusable, and serves many purposes in the kitchen.

На здоровье! 

Feeling Minty? Juleps!

Lots of fresh mint is the star of this time-honored summer cocktail. Perfect for leisure sports in the park and fancy parties alike, premix a batch so you can spend more time croqueting and soireeing, and less time muddling. 

The Goods
1/5th (750ml) good bourbon
minted simple syrup 
crushed ice 
fresh mint sprigs 

The Minted Simple Syrup
1C water
1/2C sugar
1 bunch mint

Dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and steep mint leaves as the syrup cools to room temperature. Strain out the leaves and refrigerate the syrup for up to one week. 

The Reward
Combine 3 parts bourbon and 1 part syrup to taste. I recommend adding the syrup to the bourbon slowly, and stopping when it's sweet enough but not too sweet. I typically mix up the whole batch so that guests can serve themselves easily. Just pour about 2oz over crushed ice. Add seltzer, and top with a sprig of fresh mint. 

May 8, 2016

Chive Butter

I trust none of you need a recipe for chive butter. This is more of an excuse to eat butter. Because with the addition of chives, it's now healthy. Right? 

The "Recipe"
1 stick of unsalted butter (preferably european style), at room temperature 
2T snipped chives 
kosher salt to taste (about 1/4t)

Use a large spoon to mix the chives and salt into the butter. Transfer to a small serving dish. 
Butter can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 6 months.