Double Trouble Meat Loaf

It has been awhile since our last post, but we have not forgotten about all of our followers.  In fact we have plenty of stuff to share with you unfortunately finding time to write everything down has been the issue.  In  any case here is an interesting new recipe we tried recently.  One day while flipping channels we saw Iron Chef Michael Simon making what he called Double Trouble Meat Loaf.  It was meat loaf that had your traditional ground beef mixed with ground bacon.  Yes you read that correctly, Ground Bacon!  At that point we knew we had to try it.  Unfortunately for us we could not find ground bacon.  We did however come up with a work around, freeze the bacon and put it into a food processor.  It worked quite well, so get ready for some double trouble.


Ingredients: 

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups day-old bread, crust removed, small diced
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 8 ounces ground bacon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • Serving suggestions: Mashed potatoes, potato salad

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saute pan and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Sweat the onions, and then add the garlic and continue to cook. 
  3. Stir in the chipotle powder and paprika and lightly toast with the onion mixture. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, soak the bread in the milk until completely soft and hydrated. Squeeze out the excess milk and transfer to a large bowl along with the onion mixture, chuck, bacon, parsley, black pepper, eggs and remaining salt. Mix together.
  5. Pack this mixture into a loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Let cool slightly (it will be easier to slice).
  6. Slice the meatloaf and serve it with your favorite mashed potatoes or potato salad

Results:

This meatloaf lives up to its name, it is full of flavor and heat!  The meat is seasoned perfectly and the smokey flavor of the chipotle power adds a bit of heat that sneaks up on you.  The ground beef mixed with bacon keeps this dish super moist and extremely flavorful.  This combinations created a fork tender meal packed with a ton of flavor.  It is not without its drawbacks, it was a hearty meal that was a bit greasy and is certainty not for anyone on a diet.  There was a lot of excess grease from the bacon, but we were able to drain off after it was cooked.  This dish was however just as good cold as a midnight snack (it may have even been better).

Should or Should Not Eat:

While this dish is not for the faint of heart it is a Should Eat  Packed with huge flavor while adding a new twist on meatloaf it is sure to please the entire family.  Take a day to cheat on your diet and make yourself a nice hearty home-style meal full of trouble.

Homemade Candy Corn

There seems to be a great divide between people who love candy corn and people who hate it with a passion.  In our little corner of the internet there is nothing but love for the tiny, waxy, yet strangely addicting treats.  Halloween has always been our favorite holiday, seriously who didn't love getting getting dressed up and collecting a massive bag full of free candy?  Yet of all of the varieties of candy given out nothing is as quintessential to Halloween as candy corn.  Candy corn has been a staple of the season since the 1800's, when it was first release by the Wunderlee compoany.  

As we have said however, not everyone is a fan of these brightly colored candies.   Comedian Lewis Black once said "Candy corn is the only candy in the history of America that’s never been advertised. And there’s a reason. All of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911. And so, since nobody eats that stuff, every year there’s a ton of it left over. And the candy corn company sends the guys to the villages and they collect out of the dumpsters all the candy corn we’ve thrown away. They wash it! They wash it!".  We beg to differ on the subject, which is why we were so pumped when we received the October issue of Food Network Magazine.

As would be expected the October issue from Food Network was filled with Fall/Halloween themed recipes.  While we were flipping through the pages we saw it, there was a recipe for homemade candy corn provided by none other than Alton Brown.  Alton is known for his ability to make the science of cooking accessible to chefs of all skill levels.  He is also a man has no issues proclaiming his love for one of our favorite Halloween treats.  Like us, Alton enjoys candy corn each Halloween and has gone even further as to provide a recipe for making it at home.  The recipe looked quite simple and with most of the ingredients in our kitchen, we decided to go for it.   

Ingredients: 

  • 4 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups
  • 1/2-ounce nonfat dry milk, approximately 6 1/2 teaspoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
  • 3 3/4 ounces light corn syrup, approximately 1/3 cup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 drops yellow and orange gel paste food coloring

Directions:

  1. Combine the powdered sugar, dry milk and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 4 to 5 times until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Set aside.
  2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and water in a 2-quart pot. Put over medium heat, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Add the butter, clip on a candy thermometer, and bring the mixture to 230 degrees F, about 1 to 2 minutes. 
  3. When the sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees F, take the pot off the heat and remove the thermometer. Add the vanilla and the dry mixture, stirring continuously with a silicone spatula until well combined. 
  4. Pour onto a half sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat. Cool until the mixture is cool enough to handle, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Add 2 drops of yellow food coloring to 1 piece and knead the dough until the color is consistent throughout. Add 2 drops of orange to the second piece, and knead until the color is consistent throughout. 
  6. Leave the third piece white. Roll each piece of dough into a strand, about 18-inches long. Cut each strand in half.
  7. Roll 1 of the white pieces into a strand that is about 1/2-inch thick and about 22-inches long. Repeat with a yellow piece and orange piece. Lay the strands side by side and press them together using your fingers. Cut the strand into 4-inch pieces. 
  8. Lay the strands, 1 at a time, onto the silicone mat and press into a wedge shape, like a triangle. Use a wire butter slicer to cut the candies into pieces. If you don't have a wire butter slicer, use a knife, metal bench scraper or pizza cutter to slice the dough into small pieces. 
  9. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. Lay the finished pieces on a piece of parchment or waxed paper to dry for 1 hour. Store in an airtight container with parchment paper between each layer.

 

Results:

This recipe will convert any candy corn hater.  Alton Brown provides a great take on the Halloween classic.  These homemade treats have a similar flavor profile to store bought brands, but differ in taste and texture.  Making these from scratch creates a less "processed" flavor.  The vanilla flavoring and sugar really stand out in each bite and are sure to please even Lewis Black.  The consistency of the candy corn is a bit softer and chewier than the waxy hard candy corn of your childhood.  While we prefer candy corn to be a bit harder, they are still quite good.  The process of making each corn was a bit time consuming especially shaping and cutting each piece.  However it was certainly worth the effort and would be a fun recipe to get the entire family involved in making.

Should or Should Not Eat:

Any candy corn fan will surely love this recipe and candy corn haters should give this recipe a try before they condemn this corn.  These are not the same pieces of candy corn that have been washed and re washed over the years.  They are a fresh batch of tasty treats that are sure to please and are a Should Eat for us!

Caracas Arepas Secret Sauce

This recipe is one that is near and dear to our hearts. Our obsession with this sauce started when we first visited Caracas Arepas in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Here we were treated to a common Venezuelan dish known as an arepa.  It is basically a corn meal pancake cut in half a stuffed with any and everything.  They were amazing, but the star of the show was sitting in the middle of our table.  Each table in the restaurant had this tall squirt bottle with red tops filled with this dark yellow "secret sauce".  

At first we did not know if it was a hot sauce or some other type of sauce so we all put some on our fingers and took the plunge. Our taste buds were smacked with this intense combination of sweet and heat mixed together with a ton of garlic.  The sauce was so addicting we used practically the whole bottle, dowsing our arepas in it after each bite.  We sat their trying to guess the ingredients and could not do so.  We asked the staff but as to be expected we were told it was a secret.  We were determined to figure it out what was in the sauce.   That was about two years ago and we never got much further along in the process until about 2 months ago.  

While searching for recipes to make our own homemade aprepas when we stumbled upon a website claiming to have perfected the "secret sauce" recipe.  We could not believe that someone had cracked the code.  At first there was a feeling of disbelief until we reviewed the ingredients.  There they were, a handful of things we knew had to be in the sauce, so maybe, just maybe this person was on to something.  Well we knew right then and there we had a responsibility to make this recipe and judge for ourselves if they had succeeded.  We give to you Caracas Arepas "Secret Sauce"

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Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 cup e.v olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup of yellow peppers
  • 1/2 cup of mango
  • 4  cloves garlic 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mayo
  • 1 tablespoons oregano
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients but Olive oil in food processor one chopped, gradually mix in Olive oil until desired consistency.
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Results:

We could not believe it, they did it.  It is the "Not So Secret Anymore Secret Sauce"!  This recipe is as close as you can get Caracas Arepas "Secret Sauce" without actually having their recipe.  It has the same flavor profile and texture.  There are however a few minor issues.  The sauce seems to be missing a bit of kick, we are thinking perhaps some habanero peppers or mustard would solve the problem.  Our version also turned out very green, the original sauce is a dark yellow, we may have used a bit too many fresh herbs.  Even with these minor issues this is still the perfect sauce to use on just about any meal.  It pairs perfectly with pork, especially the pulled variety.  It would also work nicely with steak, chicken and even shrimp.  We would even use it on top of our eggs if we were making huevos rancheros.  We highly recommend whipping some of this sauce together especially for your next taco night.  You with love the sweet and spicy flavor the emanates from this sauce.

Should or Should Not Eat:

If you have been to Caracas Arepas then you know how addicting their secret sauce is.  This recipe gives you the opportunity to have an almost perfect replica of the famous "Secret Sauce" in your fridge at all times.  This recipes is a Should Eat and we would love to hear what things you have put it on.

Arepas de Pernil

We are quite sure that many of you reading this article have no idea what Arepas de Pernil means, let alone what type of food it is.  To put it simply pernil is spanish style roasted pork.  Many spanish countries have thier own rubs, sauces and styles of cooking the pernil but it is almost always slow roasted in an oven with herbs and spices.  This cooking method helps to create super tender, fall off the bone pork that is very similar to pulled pork. 

Arepas are small corn patties made from ground corn meal that has been pre-cooked. The cornmeal is mixed together with water to form a dough, which is then formed into patties.  These patties are then grilled, fried or baked depending on what country you are in.  Once the patties have been cooked they are split open and stuffed with any number of combinations of meats, vegetables and cheeses.   They are very popular in Central and South America. 

It was only a few years back when we first heard of an arepa.  There was a place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Caracas Arepas that was selling authentic arepas.  They were getting quite popular and even scored a spot on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  Flay tried his best to recreate the arepa but had no luck.  He lost because got a bit too fancy and lost the authenticity of a traditional arepa.  Nevertheless the arepas looked amazing so we had to try them.  Interestingly enough they were building a second Caracas Arepas a few blocks from our apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  A week or two later the new location was open and we made our way there.  The arepas were amazing.  They were these hand held sized corn pockets filled with pernil, a mango sauce and cheese.  Topped with their own homemade "secret sauce" we had fallen in love.  Since that day we had visited Caracas Arepas numerous times, after each visit we talk about making them at home but never have.  We finally found a worthy recipe (actually from the owners of Caracas) and tried our hand at making Arepas.  

Ingredients: 

Pernil:

Mango Sauce: 

Arepas (Yield 6):

  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • Tomato slices, for serving

Directions: 

For the pernil:

  1. In a blender, combine the Worcestershire, guava paste, peppercorns, ginger, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaves, oregano, and garlic. 
  2. Transfer the marinade to a Dutch ovenor other large pot; stir in the malt beverage. 
  3. Add the pork; cover and refrigerate 24 hours. 

When pork is ready to cook:

  1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Bake until the meat shreds easily with a fork, about 4 hours. 
  3. Shred the pork

For the mango sauce:

  1. Meanwhile, heat the canola oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; 
  2. add the garlic and jalapeno. Fry until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. 
  3. With a slotted spoon, remove the garlic and jalapeno; transfer to a blender
  4. Add the mango puree, olive oil, cilantro and papelon; blend until smooth. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

For the arepas:

  1. Place 2 1/2 cups water in a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and oil
  2. Slowly pour the cornmeal into the water. 
  3. Knead together the cornmeal and water until blended and smooth. 
  4. With wet hands, divide the dough into 6 even portions. 
  5. Roll each dough portion into a ball; pat it into a 3 to 4-inch disk, about 1/2-inch thick.
  6. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet or on a griddle over medium heat; add the arepas. 
  7. Cook the arepas until golden brown on both sides, turning once, about 10 minutes. 
  8. Transfer the browned arepas to a baking sheet and bake until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

To serve, partially split the hot arepas (not all the way around); remove some dough to make room for your filling. Fill the arepas with warmed pulled pork, tomato slice, and a dollop of mango sauce. Serve immediately.


Results:

This recipe was almost perfect, the arepas were so close to tasting exactly as they do in the restaurant.  The corn patties were super easy to make.  A small amount of water mixed with the corn meal created this smooth corn dough that browned on the griddle.  After they are cooked through the patties are good to eat even on their own.  In some countries they are eaten split open and slathered with butter for breakfast.  The patties also provide a perfect vehicle for delivery of all of the meat, vegetables and sauces to right to your taste buds..  They have a slightly salty corn flavor and absorb any excess sauce and juices.

The pernil was fall off the bone delicious.  The marinade did not impart as much flavor as we thought it would but it did add some flavor.  You could easily make this recipe without the marinade and it would taste just as good.  The mango sauce really gave this dish it's signature flavor.  The sauce had the right combination of sweet and heat while still providing huge flavor that melded seamlessly with the salty pork.  The mango is what hits you first, with its sweetness.  Meanwhile the heat sneaks up on you, thanks to the garlic cloves and jalapeno peppers.  The heat is not overpowering but is noticeable and creates a nice depth of flavor to the sauce. This sauce would work nice with other dishes as well as this one.  We would easily marinate chicken in it, or use it as a dipping sauce.  Also on our arepa we put some of Caracas "secret sauce" that is similar to the mango sauce but adds another dimension of flavor (click here to find out what it was).

Should or Should Not Eat:

We think this recipe is a Should Eat for everyone.  Those who have had arepas before will love the authenticity and flavor of a traditional arepa right in your own home.  For anyone who has never heard of an arepa before it provides a great easy to follow recipe that will open your taste buds to new dishes from around the world. 

Sautéed Oyster Mushrooms over Fettuccine

This is not one of our traditional recipe reviews, we do from time to time create our own recipes and this is one of them. We came up with the idea for this recipe after visiting our local farmers market.  Every Friday from May 25th to October 26th, rain or shine, the town of Goshen hosts the Goshen Farmers Market.  It is located right in the center of town at 33 park place.  The market usually consists of farmers and vendors offering fruits, produce, baked goods and much more (click here for more info). 

While perusing the produce two weeks ago we stumbled upon Madura Farms. They were selling an array of mushrooms such as giant portobellos, hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms.  They were a bit expensive compared to traditional mushrooms, but they looked interesting and we decided to give them a try.  We bought what we thought were oyster mushrooms but after we got home we realized that they were Hen of the Woods mushrooms.  These two varieties are very similar in appearance.  Even with the mushroom mix up, we sautéed them in oil and a splash of apple cider vinegar and they were amazing.  We realized that they would be the perfect star in a simple pasta dish.  

When last Friday rolled around we headed back to Madura Farms to buy more Hen of the Woods mushrooms.  We were instantly disappointed to find out that they had sold out.  Apparently some chef came by and scooped up all of the Hen of the Woods mushrooms.  Fortunately they still had some yellow oyster mushrooms left and we decided that they would work just as well in the recipe we had envisioned.

Both the Hen of the Woods and Oyster mushrooms have a distinct shape that in each case either resembles the frilly back feathers of hen or the shape of an oyster. They both have a strong earthy but sweet flavor that will stand out in any dish.  It was the natural flavor of mushroom that convinced us that it would be the perfect topping for a fresh plate of pasta.  We knew that these mushroom sauteed in butter and served over pasta would be the perfect pair.  The only problem was that we had no actual recipe in mind and decided to wing it.   To see how it turned out keep reading.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 - 1 pound fresh oyster mushrooms
  • 1 pound fresh fettuccine (can use boxed) 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (have extra on hand in case you need more)
  • 1 small shallot sliced thin
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley (fresh)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: Pecorino Romano Cheese

Directions: 

  1. Place 3 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp olive oil into a large sauté pan on medium heat
  2. Sauté shallots in pan until golden brown, season with salt and pepper
  3. Remove stems of mushrooms leaving only the caps
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta, be sure to season water with a decent amount of salt.
  5. Remove pan with butter and shallots from heat while paste is made/cooked
  6. Be sure not to over cook pasta, removing it form water when it is al dente
  7. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid from pasta pot before draining
  8. Rinse pasta well in cold water to stop the cooking process
  9. Warm butter and shallots up on medium heat
  10. Add mushrooms to pan and sauté for 2 minutes
  11. Add pasta to dish and continue to cook, adding 1 tbsp of butter and more if needed
  12. Add about 2 tbsp of cooking liquid to pan
  13. Top with freshly chopped parsley and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  14. Finish off each dish Pecorino Romano Cheese.

Results:

With simple quality ingredients it is hard to make a bad meal.  The mushrooms add a subtle but amazing earthy flavor to this dish, which is amazing considering they are competing with the intense flavors from the shallots and succulent flavor of the butter.  The mushrooms are clearly the star of the dish followed closely behind by the fresh pasta.  Fresh pasta simply makes any dish better, it is lighter than regular pasta and is the perfect choice for this type of sauce.  The shallots impart a nice onion/garlic flavor to the butter, which complements the flavor of the mushrooms.  The parsley gives this dish a bit of color and a hint of freshness that is a nice counter point to the saltiness of the sauce and cheese.  We only made enough for two bowls and were very upset to realize there were no seconds or leftovers.  Next time we plan to make a double batch.

Should or Should Not Eat:

This recipe creates a simple but flavorful dish that is easy and quick to make.  All it requires is that you allow the natural flavors of the fresh ingredients to be the focal point of the dish.  You are sure to wow anyone with this great combination of ingredients.  The recipe is most certainly a Should Eat and we highly recommend visiting the Goshen Farmers Market to get your hands on some of these great mushrooms from Madura Farms.  Be sure to also check out all of the other quality fruits, produce and hand crafted products available.  We hope to do a post about the farmers market in the upcoming weeks, so be on the look out.

Cantaloupe, Red Onion, & Walnut Salad

We have always considered ourselves more carnivores than herbivores here at We Ate That.  However, we have been making the adult change and started to incorporate more salads into our meals.  We have never been big fans of traditional lettuce and for a time the only green leafs that we would eat was baby spinach. 

After trying a few other greens we identified Arugula as our favorite salad leaf.  It has a nice peppery flavor and works well with numerous vinaigrettes.  We especially like how well it works with fruit.  Our current salad trend as you may have noticed is eating salads that include fruit.  We feel that it helps the greens go down and makes eating salad more enjoyable.  As a result we have been looking for new salad recipes and found one that combine both Arugula and fruit, it is a cantaloupe, red onion and walnut salad.

Ingredients: 

Orange Vinaigrette

The Salad

Directions: 

  1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, and raspberry vinegar in a small bowl.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. To make the salad, combine the cantaloupe, red onion, arugula, and 1/2 cup of the walnuts in a large salad bowl.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.
  6. Garnish with the remaining walnuts.

Results:

This salad has little bit of everything in it.  The Arugula provides a nice strong pepper flavor, which is nice compared to tasteless traditional salad greens.  The cantaloupe adds an intensely sweet flavor that works well inconjunction with the Arugula.  The red onions provide a level a crunch to this dish as well as a bit of spice.  Then the salad is finished off with toasted walnuts, that like the onions add a nice crunch.  Everything comes together with the orange vinaigrette which is full of great citrus flavors thanks to the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice.  The vinegar also provides another depth of flavor to the vinaigrette.  This salad is sophisticated enough to impress those with a refined palate and is still accessible to even the pickiest of eaters.  You may even get your kids to eat some.

Should or Should Not Eat:

This salad is a Should Eat, it is a great salad for those people just dipping their toes in the salad arena.  It is a light salad that would be the perfect start to any summer dinner on the porch.  This salad should please all members of the family and is worth making, especially right now when cantaloupe is at its height of ripeness.

Eggplant Timbale

When you are little, Mother's Day is always spent making your mom something nice.  It always seemed to be a hand drawn card, or an attempt at breakfast in bed.  Then you get a bit older and have some money to spend and you try to find that perfect gift.  After a few years of that you start to realize your mother has most of the things she wants, so what do you do then?  Yup, things come full circle and you revert back to making things.  For our mother we decided to do what we do best and make a nice meal.  It is still hard however to choose the right menu.  You want to cook something that is a bit more intricate to make than normal, something that takes some time and effort to complete.  It also needs to taste good, so choosing a new recipe is always a risk because you are never quite sure how it will turn out.  Forgoing our better judgment we decided to go with a new recipe. 

The recipe we found was for a Eggplant Timbale.  This recipe comes from the cookbook Giada's Kitchen by Food Network star Giada de Laurentiis.  Giada is famous for making tons of classic Italian dishes as well as creating new inventive ones.  We have made some of her recipes in the past so we were confident that it would turn out well, but we kept asking outselves what a Timbale was.  It turns out Timbale refers to the type of pan used to cook the dish.  The eggplant is layered in the bottom of the pan, then filled with pasta and meat and covered with eggplant to create this stuffed eggplant pie of Italian goodness.  We figured this would be challenging and interesting to make, so we went for it.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. 
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  3. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
  5. Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. 
  6. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. 
  7. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. 
  8. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. 
  9. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.
  10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. 
  11. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. 
  12. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. 
  13. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.
  14. To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

Results:

We were a bit intimidated at first when we saw this recipe in the book.  Turns out it is actually very simple, there are a bunch of components and steps but it all comes together to form an amazing meal.  The grilled eggplant helps to entomb all of the meat, pasta, cheese and sauce in this beautiful pie shape..  The eggplant was fresh and after being grilled it helped add a smoky flavor to the dish.  Once you cut into the timbale you are introduced to the gooey, pasta with meat sauce center.  The sauce of course can come from a jar, but any self respecting Italian knows it is just as easy to whip some up from scratch.  We always make our own, you can see our recipe here (Sauce Recipe).  The sauce is mixed together with the onion, beef and sausage mixture which has been cooked down in Marsala wine.  The meat and onions really soaked up the Marsala imparting this rich flavor.  When mixed together with the sauce, peas and cheese you end up with this extremely flavorful filling.  There are just layers upon layer of flavors hidden throughout this dish.  Everything works so well together and provides a unique eating experience.  

Should Or Should Not Eat:

This recipes is both a unique dish which will really surprise all of your guests.  It is not often you serve what appears to be eggplant pie.  It sounds much classier as an Eggplant Timbale and is a Should Eat.  This dish offers up huge flavors combined with classic Italian ingredients.  If you love  Eggplant and pasta, this dish is for you.

Porchetta

We were first introduced to porchetta last year by our friend Erich.  Every weekend in the summer there is an outdoor flea market/food vendor event known as Smorgasboard.  At this event you will find numerous restaurants schilling their signature dishes right on the shores of the East River.  One of the attending restaurants is in fact named Porchetta, and their signature dish is a Porchetta Sandwich.  Normally located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan they make the trek each weekend to Williamsburg to feed the masses these delicious sandwiches.  Porchetta is a traditional Italian dish which consists of layering a pork belly with herbs spices and pork loin which is then rolled up and roasted in the oven.  Everyone makes theirs a bit differently but in the end you always end up with succulent pork.  Porchetta takes their meat and places it on a small Italian roll with a piece of the crackling (crispy skin) on top.  It is very simple but that its all that is needed.  After our first bite we were in heaven.  After our second bite we knew we had to make this.  A few days went by and we never researched any recipes.  

Then one day we stumbled onto what we consider one of the best food blogs around, www.iamafoodblog.com.  On this site you can see awesome recipes with amazing photos laid out in a unique style.  We have to admit we have a bit of food blog envy, but after we composed ourselves we noticed a Porchetta recipe.  Not only that but it was also linked to a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode where Guy visited a place called Bread & Meat.  In this restaurant they only have 4 items on the menu  with one of them being a Porchetta Sandwich.  From this video ad one other recipe iamafoodblog, was able to recreate this amazing dish.   Thank to them we now had an amazing porchetta recipe and their pictures ensured that we had to give it a try.

Ingredients:

Salt Rub

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole rosemary toasted
  • 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seed crushed
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon

Herb Rub

  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary

Salsa Verde  

  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds ground
  • 2 teaspoons toasted coriander ground
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • lemon juice from 2 lemons

Porchetta

pork tenderloin, around 3 inches in diameter, 1-2 pounds
12 inch slab of pork belly, skin lightly scored
oil
string

Porchetta Sandwhiches

2 ciabatta rolls
2 cups porchetta, still warm, thinly sliced and chopped
bit of crackling, roughly chopped
dijon mustard

Directions:

Porchetta

Combine the ingredients for the salt rub in a small bowl. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the pork belly with the salt rub (you won’t need to use all of it). Sprinkle the herb rub and place the tenderloin in the centre of the belly. Tightly roll up the belly around the tenderloin and tie together with kitchen twine. Rub the skin generously with oil and a bit more of the salt rub. Place your porchetta in a dish, cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

Heat the oven to 275F. Place the porchetta on a rack in a deep roasting pan. Lots of fat will be rendered out of the porchetta, so make sure your roasting pan is deep enough.  Roast on the centre rack of the oven for 4 hours. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature is 160F. Blast the heat up to 450 and continue to roast for 35 minutes, keeping an eye on the skin. You want the crackling golden brown and crispy, not burnt.

Remove from the oven, let rest for 15-20 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Salsa Verde

Puree the salsa verde ingredients until smooth. Assemble the sandwiches by slicing the rolls lengthwise and topping with porchetta. Add a bit of crackling and a drizzle of salsa verde. Serve with dijon mustard and enjoy.

Results:

When you try a new recipe there is always the concern that it could turn out bad.  Other times you worry if the recipe will taste as good as you are hyping it up to be in your own mind.  Then to make things worse if you have already eaten an amazing version of the dish previously will inevitably compare your meal to the original.  We had all of these thoughts racing through our mind when we were making this recipe.  Fortunately all of are worries were for naught, as the Porcetta was amazing.  This roast was so juicy and flavorful thanks to all of the fat from the pork belly.  The pork belly in essence basted the pork loin as it cooked.  The fresh herbs added a great aroma to kitchen as they cooked and imparted the perfect flavor profile into the meat.  The herbs and spices that were used were perfectly paired with natural flavor of the pork. 

The outside of the porchetta was roasted pork skin which turned into a crisp crackling.  Basically a fresh pork rind that just melts in your mouth.  It added an needed amount of crunch to this dish.  As we mentioned the pork belly added a ton of fat and natural juices to this dish.  For those of you not aware pork belly is what bacon is made out of.  Once a pork belly has been cured it is then considered bacon.  Basically this porchetta was a pork loin wrapped up in bacon.  Obviously there was a ton of flavor from that alone, but the spice rub and herbs all add to the insanely good flavor of the entire dish.  Then the fresh salsa verde was the perfect compliment to finish off the dish. 

The pork was a tad bit salty by itself, but the salsa is helped to cut the flavor of the salt. The salsa was e super fresh combination of parsley and lemon juice along with the same spice in the the rub.  By using the same spices from the rub in the salsa it helps keep the same flavor profile throughout the entire dish.  All of the ingredients piled high on the fresh roll was just picture perfect.  Our first bite was filled with intense flavors and pure joy.  We had managed to make the perfect dish, it tasted better than we imagined.  We knew instantly that this dish will be a hit any where we make it or wherever we bring it.  Summer BBQs, Jets Tailgates and impromptu gatherings beware the Porchetta is now lurking.

Should or Should Not Eat:

If you gotten this far then you have seen all of the pictures and read everything we had to say about the dish.  You must then have already figured out that it is a Should Eat.  If there was anything more like a Must Should Eat than this recipe would be it.  We promise this recipe will be the hit everywhere, people will beg you for the recipe.  Tell them We Ate That.com sent you. 

Porchetta

Chicken Marsala

We were craving a nice home cooked Italian meal.  We have eaten all kinds of pasta and chicken parm lately, but we were in the mood for something a little bit different.  Then we remembered we had an old recipe hidden some where in our files.  The recipe is actually just notes that were taken while watching our grandmother cook.  Unfortunately the notes were taken by another member of the family and were written in what could only be considered free form, so they took a bit of decoding and guessing to understand.  After a bit of studying we were able to figure out the recipe and our meal set.  We decide to plate the chicken marsala over pasta. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts about an inch thick (will be cut in half to create 8 pieces) add more if needed
  • 1/4 cup of flour for gravy (extra for dredging)
  • 1/4 cup Marsala Wine
  • 3 cubes of chicken bullion
  • 3 tbsp Butter
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Parsley 
  • Water
  • Oil

Directions:

Chicken

  1. Cut chicken breasts in half creating pieces that are about 1/4 inch thick
  2. Pound chicken breasts lightly to make them uniform in size
  3. Pre-heat a pan with olive oil over medium heat, oil should be 1/8 inch deep 
  4. Create a dredge for the chicken by adding flour to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Evenly coat chicken in flour and shake off the excess
  6. Add chicken to the pan and turn the heat up so that the chicken is frying
  7. Cook for about 5 minutes till golden brown, flip over and brown the other side
  8. Place cooked chicken on a plate with a paper towel to drain and cool
  9. Reserve cooking oil for gravy

Gravy

  1. Take 1/4 cup of flour and add into a 1/2 cup of water
  2. Mix thoroughly until it resembles milk
  3. Add in 1/4 cup of Marsala wine
  4. Pour mixture into the leftover cooking oil used to cook the chicken
  5. Turn the heat on the pan to medium
  6. Mix together and add 1/2 cup of water, mix until there are no lumps
  7. Add 3 cubes of chicken bullion, mix until dissolved
  8. If mixture is too thick add water until you reach desired consistency
  9. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes, whisking once or twice
  10. On the side heat up 3 tablespoons of butter
  11. Add 1/2 tsp of onion powder to the hot butter then add butter into the gravy
  12. In a new pan, heat  a bit of butter on medium heat
  13. Fill pan with chicken and add enough gravy to cover chicken
  14. Add a splash of Marsala wine & parsley
  15. Cook until chicken is warm and then serve either as is or over a side of pasta

Results:

No need to order out anymore for good chicken marsala with this recipe in hand.  If you are looking for home cooked chicken marsala like your grandmother used to make, look no further.  The chicken was lightly breaded and had a perfect crispy outside.  Pounding out the chicken allowed us to get cutlets that cooked quickly and evenly. The chicken was moist and retained all of its juices.  The sauce was exactly what you would get at a good Italian restaurant.  We were split on if the sauce was too think our not, but it is all personal preference and can be adjusted according.  If you prefer a thicker sauce this recipe should work just fine for you.  If you want a thinner sauce just add small amounts of water to the sauce until you get the consistency you desire.  That is the beauty of this recipe, there is so much flavor in the sauce that even when you add water it does not dilute any of the flavor.  

This was the perfect dish served over a bed of pasta.  We used some penne and topped it off with a bit of pecorino romano cheese.  This was the read deal dish and was very good.  In the future we may consider adding in mushroom to the sauce to give it some additional flavor.  This chicken could also be served sandwich style.  Get a nice fresh roll top it with the chicken cutlets and marsala sauce and finish it off with a slice of fresh mozzarella.  

Should Or Should Not Eat:

If you are craving homemade chicken marsala then you should try this recipe because it is a Should Eat.  This recipe comes from our grandmothers secret stash and you know those recipes are always good.  It even seems to retain some of the love she puts into it as well.  This has become one of our new favorite recipes and it may just become one of yours.

Venison Swedish Meatballs

Today we are highlighting our first semi-guest post.  This recipe comes from our occasional photographer extraordinaire/food taster Kevin (check out his web site here). You may remember seeing his contributions to the blog in our review of Battery Place Market where he took all of our photos.  He has submitted to us a delicious looking Swedish meatball which uses the Venison (deer meat) left over from hunting season.  We really enjoy the idea of using non traditional meats in our recipes and we plan to do more of this going forward.  If your a hunter also, here is a new recipe to try.   


 Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of stale bread, crusts removed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2-3 pounds venison (or beeflambelkmoose, etc)
  • 1 pound pork fat or ground pork 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 grated yellow onion
  • Flour
  • 1 quart beef stock or venison stock
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup highbush cranberry or lingonberry jelly
  • Salt
  • Butter or oil for frying

Directions:

Meatballs

  1. Pour the milk into a pot and set it on low heat.
  2. Cut the crusts off the stale bread and break it into pieces. Add it to the pot. It will begin to absorb the milk. When it does, turn off the heat and mash everything into a paste. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Mix the meat into a bowl, add the salt and spices. Crack the eggs into the bowl, then pour the bread-milk mixture in.
  4. Gently mix everything together gently.
  5. When it is mostly combined take the mixture and roll in balls using your palms
  6. Gently roll the meatballs in the flour; you’ll probably need about a cup. 
  7. When the meatballs are all made, get a large pan ready. Fill it with a little less than 1/4 inch of oil. I use canola oil with a little butter tossed in for flavor. Bring it up to temperature over medium-high heat. When a drop of water splashed in the oil immediately sizzles away, drop the heat to medium and add the meatballs. Do not crowd them.
  8. You want the oil to come up halfway on the meatballs. Add a little oil if need be; don’t worry, you can reuse the oil. Fry on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You are looking for golden brown.
  9. Turn only once. The other side will need 2-4 minutes.
  10. When cooked, set the meatballs on a paper towel or wire rack to drain. They can be used right away or cooled and then refrigerated for a week, or frozen for several months.

The Sauce

  1. Once the meatballs are cooked, drain all but about 3-4 tablespoons of butter/oil from the pan. Over medium heat, add an equal amount of the flour left over from dusting the meatballs.
  2. Stir to make a roux and cook slowly until it turns a nice golden brown. Think coffee with cream.
  3. Add the stock gradually and turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir well to combine and add more stock or some water if need be — you want this thicker than water, thinner than Thanksgiving gravy.
  4. Taste for salt and add if needed.
  5. Put the meatballs in the pan, cover and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  6. Add the lingonberry or highbush cranberry jelly to the pan. Let it melt and then mix it in gently. Coat all the meatballs with the sauce.
  7. Cover and cook another 10 minutes over very low heat. Add the cream and just warm through, maybe 3-4 minutes.
  8. Serve over mashed potatoes or with German egg noodles.

Results:

After this past fall, we ended up with many different forms of Venison. Steaks, Sausages, Roasts, and of course ground venison. The problem with Venison is that it's such a lean meat, so it has very little fat to help bind the meat together. To help keep it all together and add a bit of flavor you have to add a fattier meat into the mix.  That is where the pork comes in. Since I didn't have a meat grinder or food processor at the time, I was forced to chop up the two meats and hand mix everything together.

The only seasonings used were salt, pepper, Allspice (a Jamaican seasoning) and Caraway seeds. Once the meat was set, I needed to prepare the breading for the mixture. After heating up some milk, allow the chunks of stale bread to absorb it and create a soggy concoction. Once everything was set, the meat, spices, breading and two eggs are placed in a bowl and mixed well. Once finished, they are formed, rolled in flour, and placed into a pot to cook. After all the meat is cooked, you can then make the roux with some left over oil from the pot and left over flour from rolling. Beef Broth and whole cranberries were added to the sauce until it was a golden cream much like light and sweet coffee. The meatballs were then placed in the sauce and allowed to cook for a few more minutes until ready.  Served with homemade mashed potatoes, the meatballs came out very good. They were tender, flavorful, and no trace of the gamey taste you can get from a wild meat.

Should Or Should Not Eat:

 If you have any leftover venison taking up room in the freezer, this recipe is a great way to make use of it.  This may be a hard recipe to try since venison is not readily available at your local super market but this recipe is a Should Eat.

 

Sweet Plantains

Our love of plantains began while we were living in Miami.  Miami is home to a huge population of Cubans. There is even a neighborhood in Miami known as "Little Havana" in reference to the capital of Cuba.  Naturally there are also a ton of Cuban restaurants in Miami and they all serve some form of plátanos maduros (fried plantains) on the menu.  

Plantains are a staple of Latin American cuisine, and can even found in a few West African dishes.  There are many ways to cook plantains, these methods are all dictated by the plantains stage of ripeness.  Plantains are similar to bananas but tend to be firmer and lower in sugar content.  Plantains are usually cooked while bananas are predominately eaten raw.  Plantains like bananas start off very green signifying that they are unripe.  These unripe or Green Plantains are starchy like potatoes and have a similar flavor and texture.  It is no surprise then that green plantains are often fried into chips.  As the plantain beings to ripen it will become softer and sweeter.  When making a dish that calls for sweet plantains you should choose one that is black and yellow. Unlike a traditional banana, these black and yellow plantains have not gone bad.  They have simply ripened or overripe to the perfect state for a sweet dish. 

We like to eat our sweet plantains with Pernil (pork shoulder) and Rice & Beans covered in hot sauce.  The pork tends to have saltiness that gets cut buy the sweetness of the plantains.  All of this mixed in with the Rice & Beans provides it is a perfect marriage of sweet and Savory.  Fortunately there is a large Spanish population in New York City and we have been able quench our sweet plantain cravings even after leaving Miami.  

The time has come however that we learn to make our own. When looking for a recipe we found one from our favorite chef Tyler Florence. His recipes have not disappointed us before, so will his streak continue? keep reading to find out.

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 ripe black plantains
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 Directions: 

  1. To peel the plantains, cut off ends and discard. With a paring knife, make 3 shallow slits lengthwise along the seams of the skin and peel away. Split the plantains lengthwise.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet and place over medium low heat (plantains have a high sugar content and will burn if the heat is too high.) 
  3. Fry the plantains in a single layer, until golden on the bottom then turn over with a spatula. 
  4. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar and let cook a few more seconds, just to begin caramelizing the sugar.
  5. Just before serving, melt remaining tablespoon of butter to finish the sauce. Serve immediately.

Results:

These plantains came out very good.  They were super sweet and had a great soft texture. The flavor profile was jacked up a few notches thanks to the Vanilla and Cinnamon.  Both of these ingredients are not traditionally added to plantains in most Cuban/Spanish restaurants, but they do add great flavor. Traditionally these plantains would just be fried in butter or oil until they caramelized, sometimes with a small amount of brown sugar.  We were however pleased with Tyler's take on plantains. They would work well as a side dish to any savory Spanish dish. They could even be served with ice cream as a desert.  

Should or Should Not Eat:

Sweet plantains are a great side dish.  This recipe produces a great take on a traditional plantain that can function as a complement to your main dish or a star in a sweet desert.  This recipe is a Should Eat for us and if you have never had sweet plantains you should definitely give them a try.

Chayote Slaw

This recipe comes from an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which featured a restaurant in Brooklyn called the Sidecar. They created a unique version of a Cuban Sandwich named the Cubano, made with pulled pork and baked ham. It was served on ciabtta bread with chayote slaw. Once we saw this sandwich made the Sidecar was added to our list of places to visit but then we found the recipe online for their Cubano. It looked so good on TV we decided to give it a try before we went for a visit. We got all of the ingredients and made all of the individual components for the sandwich but never ended up making a full Sidecar Cubano. Instead we decided to feature all of the recipes individually.

This whole time you were probably asking "What is a chayote?". Chyote is is an edible fruit belonging to the gourd family along with melons, cucumbers and squash. The chayote is native to Mexico, but has been introduced as a crop worldwide. The main growing regions are Costa Rica and Veracruz, Mexico.  The chayote is used in both raw and cooked forms. It has a fairly bland taste, and a texture is described as a cross between a potato and a cucumber. 

Now that we are all familiar with what a chyote is, we present to you the chyote Slaw.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint radishes
  • 1 chayote squash
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt

Directions: 

  1. Slice the radishes and chayote 1/4-inch thick on a mandoline. 
  2. Combine with the cilantro, lime zest and lime juice in a mixing bowl and add salt to taste, adjusting the amount of lime juice as necessary.

Results:

We tasted some of the chyote before we added it into the slaw and it was bland. Radishes do not have a ton of flavor either, so we got worried that this recipe was going to be a waste of time. Our only hope was that the lime juice and cilantro could save this dish. Surprise, surprise they transformed our bland bowl of translucent slices into a deliciously sweet and crunchy side dish. We love the flavor profile that lime and cilantro bring to a dish. The lime juice helped to "pickle" the chyote and radishes, imparting a nice sweetness into each. Cilantro finished off the dish by adding its fresh citrus hint while adding some nice color. 

This slaw would be perfect on top of any taco, especially a pork taco. Due to the lime and cilantro, this slaw would also work nicely with any dish that uses a similar flavor profile. We could see it pairing nicely with grilled chicken. It would also make a nice summer BBQ alternative to traditional coleslaw.  We would recommend making this recipe, it could your summer surprise at your next BBQ!

Should or Should Not Eat:

Chyote Slaw is a Should Eat. This recipe provides a new twist on a traditional summer side dish. The crunch of the chyote and radishes paired with lime and cilantro creates this sweet and crunchy slaw with a refreshing citrus flavor profile.  

How to Make Mozzarella Cheese Kit

Fresh mozzarella cheese is one of the best foods ever. If you have had the opportunity to get it so fresh that it was still warm then you know exactly what we are talking about. It has this soft milky texture that you don't get from those store bought blocks of mozzarella cheese. For a long time now we have wanted to make our own, but really did not know where to get the equipment and ingredients. That was until we found a Mozzarella Cheese making Kit online. The Rolling Brook Dairy sells a mozzarella kit online through Amazon.com for about $20. The kit comes with everything you need to make cheese except for milk.  Here is our first attempt making fresh mozzarella cheese.


Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon pasteurized, whole or 2% milk - as fresh as possible (NOT ultra-pasteurized)
  • 11/2 tsp. citric acid (included in the kit)
  • 1/4 rennet tablet (included in the kit)
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more to taste (included in the kit)

What else is in the kit:

  • Thermometer 
  • Rubber Gloves 

Directions:

Preparation:

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Make sure your equipment is clean
  3. Prepare the rennet-water solution by dissolving 1/4 tablet of rennet in 1/4 cup of cold water.
  4. Measure 1 1/2 teaspoons of citric acid into 1 cup of cold water, stir to dissolve.

Heating the milk:

  1. Gently pour the milk into the pot
  2. Heat the milk over a medium-low flame. Using the thermometer, check the temperature of the milk. at 85 degrees, add the citric acid. Stir for 20 seconds
  3. When the milk reaches 100 degrees, stir the rennet-water solution and add it to the milk. Stir the milk in an up and down motion for 30 seconds.

Developing The Curds:

  1. Heat the milk to 105 degrees, and then turn the heat off. Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes. You should see signs of coagulation. The curds (the white mass) should look like shiny yogurt and begin to pull away from the side of the pot. The Whet (liquid) should have a yellow tint.
  2. To check if the curds are ready gently press the back of a spoon into the curds. If it leaves a dent, the curds are ready. If it does not, allow the curds to sit for another 2 minutes.

Draining The Curd (the goal is to remove as much whey as possible):

Remember to handle curds gently

  1. Using a strainer or a slotted spoon, gently lift up the curds and let the whey drip back into the pot. Then place into a colander.
  2. When all the curds are in the colander, gently press the curds with the palm of your hand to push out as much whey as possible. When there is almost no whey coming out of the curds, place the curds in a microwaveable bowl.
  3. Again, using the palms of your hands, press down gently on the curds and remove as much whey as possible.

Cooking And Kneading The Curds:

  1. Microwave the curds for 1 minute
  2. Put on glove if desired to protect hands from the heat. Remove the bowl of curds from the microwave. Drain the whey and then gently fold the curds over to distribute the heat. Continue to drain the whey.
  3. Microwave the curds for an additional 30 seconds. Drain and knead the curds again. Knead the curds until it begins to look smooth, shiny and is firming up. 

Stretching The Cheese:

  1. Try to stretch the cheese now. It must be 135 degrees to stretch properly. If it is not hot enough, microwave for another 30 seconds. Add the salt and any other herbs and begin to work into the cheese by stretching and folding, and repeat this movement. If you prefer a softer texture, do not stretch cheese as much. As soon as it is smooth and shiny (like taffy) shape it into a ball.

Forming Cheese Into A Ball:

  1. Form a ball by pulling and tucking the edges underneath the cheese.
  2. To keep the ball shape, place the mozzarella in an ice water bath for about 15 minutes.

You now have homemade Mozzarella Cheese

Results:

Well we did get homemade mozzarella cheese, unfortunately it did not turn out exactly as we had expected. Our cheese was too stiff and dry, it had the consistency of a block of Polly-o Cheese. It also was bland, we should have added more salt.  From our experience, cheese making is an art that takes practice. Many of the problems with our cheese are most likely our fault. We think it was a bit too stiff because we over handled the curds and extracted too much whey. 

We also were surprised with the small amount of cheese that came from 1 gallon of milk. It produced a ball of cheese about the size of a softball. The kit however provides you with enough ingredients to make about 4 balls of cheese as long as you buy the milk. We used 2% milk the first time, we plan use whole milk the next time around.

Should Or Should Not Eat:

We will give this a Should Eat, but caution it with the fact that it may take a few attempts to get it right. You will end up with homemade mozzarella cheese if you buy the kit, how it turns out will depend on your natural cheese making skills (or their development over a few batches) 

Homemade Naan

Many of you may be asking, "What is Naan?" Naan is a flatbread that is a staple food in Southeast and Central Asia. It is especially common in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and surrounding regions. Naan is very similar to Pita Bread but a bit softer. When reheated Naan quickly regains the same texture that it has when it is first made.

We have found that Naan is a perfect complement to just about any dish. We have dipped it in hummus and tomato sauce.  Used it in place of bread when make sandwiches and even just snacked on warm Naan with a just a little bit of butter. We always wanted to make Naan but we weren't sure how it was made, so we looked it up and found this recipe. Now it is time to see how our Naan comes out and if it can stand up to the store bought brands.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting and rolling
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • oil or ghee, for frying

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl, mix together water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. Add flour, salt, oil, yogurt, and beaten egg. Stir until you have a dough that’s easy to work with, add more flour if needed. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, or about an hour.
  3. On a floured surface, divide the dough into 6-8 pieces. Roll out each piece very thinly and set aside.
  4. Heat oil or ghee (not too much! Just a little for each piece) in a large skillet. When hot, add the Naan and cook until blistered and golden brown. Flip and cook until golden on the other side. Repeat with remaining naan. Serve with your favorite curry. Makes 6-8 naan

Results:

This recipe delivers real deal naan, hot and fresh at home. Making the naan was actually much easier than we thought it would be. We had originally thought naan was baked in the oven, but it turns out it only needs to be quickly fried in a pan on both sides. The process reminded us of making pancakes. The naan came out tasting just like the store bought brands. It was slightly crispy on the outside and light and airy in the middle. You could easily add garlic or other fresh herbs to the dough to make different varieties of naan. 

Should Or Should Not Eat:

This naan recipe is a Should Eat. If you have never had naan, we highly recommend trying it.  If you like naan we suggest making it at home, you will appreciate it even more fresh out of the pan.

The Ultimate Cheesecake

It seems like everybody we know has a birthday in March. For our latest birthday celebration we decided to try our hand at baking another cake. You may remember our first foray into baking ended in a success (see our Flourless Chocolate Cake) This time we picked out a cheesecake recipe. You would be surprised with how many different variations and types of cheese cake recipes there are floating around on the internet. We wanted to stick to a more traditional cheesecake, so we chose a recipe with a graham cracker crust topped with fresh berries. This recipe comes from Tyler Florence, who is our favorite celebrity chef. We had an opportunity to meet him a few years ago and he is super nice.  He also happens to have all of the best recipes. We have made multiple recipes of his and they all turned out perfect.   If you follow his directions your bound to have a great dish.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filing:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 dash vanilla extract

Warm Lemon Blueberry & Strawberry Topping:

  • 1 pint mix of blueberries & strawberries
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minute

For the Filling:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps.
  2.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. 
  3. The batter should be well mixed but not over-beaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  4. Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. 
  5. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. 

Topping:

  1. In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.
  2. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. 
  3. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Using a spatula to spread topping over the surface.

Results:

As expected with a Tyler Florence recipe this cake was a hit. The cake was nice and creamy and the berry topping was the perfect complement. The crust was sweet and crunchy and was by far our favorite part of this cake. The crust turned out so well because we decided to use Honey Maid Honey Graham Crackers instead of plain graham crackers. The honey graham crackers have a bit more sweetness to them and that flavor really comes through in the crust.  One thing we will say is you may need to cook your cake at a slightly higher temperature than listed in the recipe, we cooked ours at 350 degrees and left it in a bit longer. Unlike other typical cakes, cheesecake does not fully set until it is chilled. As a result you are not going to have a completely solid cake right out of the oven. 

Should Or Should Not Eat: 

This is a very good cheesecake recipe, simple but flavorful. We our putting it in our Should Eat section. Tyler Florence does it again.

Chicken Biscuit with a Poached Egg & Bacon-Whiskey Gravy

Leftovers do not always need to be treated like a second class citizen.  In fact sometimes you can mix and match your leftovers and create an amazing dish. We did just that a week ago after making our Chicken Biscuits with Honey Butter & Hot Sauce and Cocoa Rubbed Steak With Bacon-Whiskey GravyWe made both of these recipes within a few days of each other and had a ton of left overs.

Our Chicken Biscuits came out great, everything about that recipe was killer. We ended up with a lot of biscuits and some chicken cutlets leftover. The steak recipe was not as successful, but we did end up with a nice gravy. It dawned on us that the gravy would go perfectly with our biscuits. Since we had just made these biscuits we knew what we were going to make, A poached egg on a biscuit with bacon-whiskey gravy.  We thought about it for a second longer and decided to add a chicken cutlet as well.  We ended up with a Chicken Biscuit topped with Poached Egg & Bacon-Whiskey Gravy

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Make Homemade Biscuits according to the provide recipe
  2. While Biscuits are cooking, make the gravy according to recipe above
  3. Once biscuits and gravy are done poach your eggs
  4. To poach your eggs to your desired consistency using a pan made specifically for poached eggs 

If you do not have a pan like this follow these directions: 

  1. Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a hefty pinch of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, crack the egg into a small jug or bowl and add a drop of vinegar.
  3. Stir the boiling water vigorously with a balloon whisk until you have a whirlpool then immediately slip the egg into the centre, lowering the jug a couple of centimetres into the water.
  4. Turn the heat down low, and cook for three minutes – use a timer to prevent overcooking.
  5. Drain the egg on kitchen paper, and serve immediately. If you're poaching it in advance, drop it straight into a bowl of iced water instead, or it will carry on cooking; to reheat, simply warm the egg through in a pan of gently simmering water.

 

Results:

Man this thing was better than we ever expected. We thought these recipes would work well together but sometimes you just never know. The bacon whiskey gravy was perfect on top of both the poached egg and the chicken cutlet. When you bite into the biscuit you get all of the flavor from the gravy followed by the runny yoke of the egg. The biscuit helped to soak up the excess yoke and gravy. There is not much else to say about this dish except you will want to make this. 

Pennette With Spicy Sicilian Pesto

We found this recipe browsing through some other food blogs. One of our favorite blogs is Serious Eats, where they have a section called Cook The Book.  This is where they help promote cook books by showing recipes from a newly released cook book.

This recipe comes from Mario Batali's latest cook book, Molto Batali.  Mario Batali is one of the most recognized and respected chefs working in America today. Mario has 11 restaurants located in New York City alone with others located in Las Vegas, California and even Singapore. One of his newest ventures is the gourmet market Eataly.  Eataly is the largest artisnal Italian food and wine marketplace in New York City.

We really enjoy pesto sauce, it is easy to make and has refreshing flavor thanks to the herbs.  The only thing is often times pesto sauces all tend to be basically the same. When we saw that it was a Spicy Pesto Sauce we knew instantly we were going to make it. We love spice and heat, but one other thing that caught our eye is that Batali used Almonds in the recipe.  Traditionally pesto sauce is made with pine nuts, so we were very interested to see how the Almonds would work.


 

Ingredients:

Yield: 8 to 10 as a first course, 6 as a main, active time 15 minutes, total time 15 minutes

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, lightly packed, washed and spun dry
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup sliced blanched almonds
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus ¼ cup
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Siciliano plus ¼ cup (Pecorino Ramano)

Directions:

  1. Bring 8 quarts water to boil in a large spaghetti pot and add 2 tablespoons salt.
  2. Place the basil, mint, garlic, Serrano chilis, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds and almonds in a food processor and pulse 3 times to start the chopping process.
  3. Add the ½ cup oil and pulse 4 or 5 times to create a thick paste, (not a thin oily sauce). Add cheese and pulse once to mix in, season with salt if it needs it and remove to a container with a lid. 
  4. Carefully pour ¼ cup more olive oil over to create hermetic “lid”, cover with seal tight lid and refrigerate. This pesto will hold in the fridge like this for 2 weeks. Makes 1½ cups.
  5. Place 1 cup of the pesto in a large warm salad bowl.
  6. Drop the pennette into the boiling water and cook to one minute less than the package instructions. Just before it is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the bowl with the pesto. 
  7. Drain the pasta in a colander and dump into the bowl with the pesto and the water. Toss gently like a salad about 30 seconds until nicely coated and serve with a scant dusting of the cheese over each portion.

Results:

Our first impressions of this dish was "woah that's spicy".  It was not an over powering heat, but it was certainly there. If you do not enjoy heat in your dishes we would suggest steering clear of this recipe, or just omit the peppers.

Since we do like heat we were very happy with this dish. Adding the cooking water to the pesto before mixing it with the pasta really helped to enhance the dish. It added a small amount of liquid to the pesto which helped the sauce mix together with the pasta. The fresh herbs really come through in this dish, especially the mint. We have never used mint in a pesto sauce before but it worked nicely.  The almonds added texture and crunch and paired well with the freshly grated cheese.

Another key to this dish is making sure your pasta is cooked al dente. The term "al dente" comes from Italian and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite", referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. Pasta will continue to cook even after you remove it from the stove. Taking it off of the stove early ensures that your pasta will not end up over cooked.  It is also important to season your water with salt. It helps give the pasta added flavor.

We will be making this dish again for sure. It is a Should Eat and offers a perfect base meal for you to make your own additions such as grilled chicken or sweet Italian sausage.

Chicken Biscuits with Honey Butter & Hot Sauce

One of the best things in the world is a homemade biscuit. Fresh out of the oven they are hot and flakey. Once they are split open and covered in honey butter there is no better breakfast (well there is, just wait for it). A good biscuit recipe however is hard to come by and this recipe was said to be the best ever.  Since we like to put best ever recipes to the test, we decided to try this one.

We ended up changing our minds there is one dish better than a fresh biscuit covered in honey butter.  It is a fresh biscuit covered in honey butter topped with a crispy piece of fried chicken and hot sauce.  It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory.

The honey butter adds the sweetness, while the fried chicken and hot sauce provide the savory. They are especially perfect for a weekend brunch after a long night a drinking. We have had many versions of this dish out at numerous restaurants, but we have never made it at home. Now that we have the recipes in hand we will find out if we will still be going out for Chicken Biscuits or making them from the comfort of home.

This recipe is a bit long but it includes making 3 things, be sure to check out all of the photos.

Ingredients:

For the Honey Butter:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Biscuits:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for flouring your work surface and rolling pin
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk 

For the Chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • Vegetable oil as needed

Directions:

For the Honey Butter:

  1. Bring 2 tablespoons of water to a boil in a small pot. 
  2. Slowly whisk in the butter, piece by piece, letting each piece melt completely into the water before adding the next one. Add the honey and salt, and whisk everything together until you have a shiny, well-combined liquid.
  3. Let the honey butter sit in a warm area of the kitchen, or over the lowest possible flame on the stove, until you’re ready to use it. It’s important to keep it warm so it will spread easily—and the longer you let it sit, the better the honey butter will be. 

For the Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. (If you don’t have a sifter, you can use a whisk.) 
  3. Add the vegetable shortening. Using a pastry cutter, or holding a butter knife in each hand, cut through the shortening and flour in an X-shaped motion until the shortening is mixed in. Be careful to break up any large pieces. You should end up with lots of little pebbles.
  4. Add the buttermilk and use your hands to mix everything together, turning the mixture until it forms a dough. Then keep turning and kneading until you’ve got a roughly shaped ball of dough. If things get sticky, add a little bit of flour. 
  5. Flour a board or countertop well, and turn the dough out on it. 
  6. Flour your rolling pin, and then roll the dough out until it forms a round about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the dough round into thirds, like you’re folding a business letter. Slap the dough down hard with the palms of your hands to really bring it together, and then roll it out and fold it in again. Do this 7 times in all, skipping the folding step the seventh time. Reflour the work surface, the dough, and the rolling pin as you go. 
  7. Flour a 31/2-inch round pastry cutter, and cut out as many rounds of dough as possible (you should have 8 to 10 or so). Reflour the cutter as you go.
  8. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, lay the biscuits on it, and put it on the middle oven rack. At about the 10-minute mark, turn the baking sheet so that all the biscuits bake evenly. 
  9. When the biscuits are baked through and the tops are golden-brown (about 20 minutes), pull them out of the oven. Using a big pastry brush, coat the tops of the biscuits with the honey butter. The biscuits will be very soft and flaky inside, with just a little bit of crispness on the outside. Serve them while they’re hot.

For the Chicken: 

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and set aside. 
  2. In a pie pan or shallow bowl, combine the flour and chile powder. Place the eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour. Dip each piece in the egg mixture, then coat in the flour once more. Place the chicken pieces on a plate and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
  4. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a 12-inch skillet with sloped sides. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Cook the pieces on both sides until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

The Honey Butter:

How to roll out and fold the biscuits.  This is what helps to create the layers inside your biscuits. 

The Chicken:

The Results:

What can we say, we came away impressed with this entire dish.  Sometimes when making a recipe things don't come out as planned, see our Cocoa Rubbed Steak.  Other times however you hit the jackpot and the dish comes better than you imagined. 

The biscuits were actually the best that we have ever made on our own. In the past our attempts to make biscuits never turned out a quality product. Now we have a go to recipe   The biscuits had the perfect texture, when you pulled them apart you could see the flakey layers.  The dough was seasoned so well that you could eat these biscuits without butter and they tasted great, but lucky for us the recipe included honey butter. The honey butter was quite simple to make aenhanced the dish by adding a touch of sweetness. You could stop right here and you would have an amazing breakfast, but we had even more to add.

The chicken came out great also, it was lightly battered and had the right amount of fried cripsyness.  The batter consisted of the buttermilk and seasoned flour which with the chili powder added a bit of heat.  The chicken was placed on the bottom of the biscuit and drizzled with honey butter.  We then added a fair amount of Franks Hot Sauce on top of the honey butter.  When we took the first bite we knew it was perfect.

This entire recipe is a Should Eat, and further more it should be eaten for breakfast, lunch and or dinner.

Cocoa Rubbed Steak With Bacon-Whiskey Gravy

Sometimes you read a recipe and say "Man this sound so good I have to make this". Well that is exactly what we said when we saw this recipe in the latest version of Food Network Magazine. Steak, Bacon and Whiskey what could possibly go wrong.  Unfortunately some things are too good to be true and in the cooking world sometimes things just do not turn out as well as you thought they would.  This recipe was one of those things that just didn't turn out as well.  You may be asking i"f it didn't turn out good why would we post the recipe?" Part of the reason we started this blog was to help people find recipes worth making and also recipes are not. Who knows you may be able to make some changes that will fix whatever went wrong.

Ingredients:

The Steak

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1-pound New York strip steaks (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

The Gravy

  • 4 strips bacon, diced
  • 1 leek (white and light green parts only), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whiskey
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Make the steak: Mix the cocoa powder, both paprikas, brown sugar, cayenne and 2 teaspoons salt; rub on the steak and bring to room temperature, 30 minutes.
  2. Make the gravy: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add the leek to the drippings and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the whiskey, then return to medium heat; if the alcohol ignites, let the flames die out. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the mixture is reduced by one-quarter, about 8 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the gravy coats a spoon, about 7 minutes. Stir in the butter, reserved bacon and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon butter; when it melts, add the steak and sear until a dark crust forms, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Season with salt. Slice and serve with the gravy.

The Spice Rub:

Making the Gravy:

Results: 

Let us start by saying we did not follow the recipe to the letter.  Instead of using a cast iron skillet, we used the grill. We point this out because it may have lead to the ineffectiveness of the recipe. We did however get some nice grill marks!

Ok so what happened, well the steak just tasted like a steak.  It was not bad, but it didn't taste like anything. We didn't get any cocoa flavor, no smoked paprika or anything else in the dry rub. We are willing to bet a lot of this was due to using the grill instead of the skillet.  A skillet would have helped keep all the spices on the steak while the crust formed.  On the grill, it is likely that once the juices started running off the steak so did the spice rub. As a result say goodbye to all of our flavor. These are the things that happen sometimes, and we would be lying if we didn't think this outcome was because we put it on the grill.  We had our fingers crossed it would work, but we made a mistake.  Had we cooked it properly we are still not sure how good this would have been and we do not plan to find out.

While the steak did not come out right, the gravy on the other hand was very good, after a few fixes.  We had some issues with the gravy.  The flavors and ingredients all worked extremely well in the gravy, the issue came in with the cooking time and method.  After the heavy cream is added into the mixture the recipe says to reduce the heat to a simmer for about 7 minutes until the gravy coats a spoon.  Well after cooking this for over 15 minutes it had reduced but not thickened and the steaks were done.  As you can see above we put it on the steaks and ate, but it was more of a broth than a gravy.

After we ate, we were happy with the gravy.  It had such good flavor we knew we had to fix it and use it for something else.  So we decided to crank up the heat and reduce it as much as we could.  Guess  what? it did reduce to where it should have originally, it just needed to be cooked on higher heat. Now with an actual gravy we were able to fully appreciate it.  We ended up using it on top of toast and a poached egg as a eggs benedict.

Even though the steak came out a loser in the recipe, we did find the gravy making the effort worth it.

The Steak is a Should Not Eat

The Gravy is a Should Eat

Homemade Lemonade

We love Lemonade, but it is hard to find good lemonade.  All you see these days is pre-mixed lemonade loaded with sugar.  We wanted to make a quick and easy homemade version using yes Real Lemons! So we stumbled upon a recipe claiming to be the best lemonade ever.  With all of that boasting we had to put it to the test, so without further adieu, the best lemonade ever (we will see).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed organic lemon juice,  6 organic lemons
  • 1 cup white sugar (I passed on raw because I didn’t want the hint of molasses flavor)
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3 drops yellow food coloring (optional) 

Directions:

  1. Place 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Stir until it is dissolved, and remove from heat. Let cool.
  2. Combine sugar water, lemon juice, water and vanilla extract in a 2 quart pitcher. Stir to combine. Serve over ice

Results:

This is not the best lemonade we have ever had.  It is however a very good recipe.  The lemonade is not overly sweet, but it is a bit too sugary for our taste.  Kids will almost certainly love this recipe. We liked it better after watering it down a bit.  It was extremely fresh with great lemon flavor.  The addition of the vanilla was quite unique and refreshing, it helps set this recipe apart from some others you may have seen.  

If you enjoy lemonade, this is a quality recipe but do not expect to be making "the best ever".