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Monday, April 13, 2015

New Cocktail Party Classic - Everything Pigs In a Blanket

I have long contended that in the wide world of bagel flavors, the Everything is, hands down, the most quintessentially New York. In a related story, it also happens to be THE BEST. How could it not be? It's got it all - something for everyone, just like the city I associate it with. This is why I've had big plans to concoct my own Everything Topping for quite a while now. Since I don't do too much in the way of baking, I had visions of working it into hors d'oeuvres.


"Everything" Pigs In A Blanket, Photo: NK








Everything Topping! Photo, NK
It was in brainstorming this year's annual Mad Men premier recipes (prior viewing party menus here and here) that it dawned on me that adding Everything Topping to everyone's favorite hors d'oeuvre, you guessed it - Pigs in a Blanket, would be the perfect way to make a classic cocktail party favorite new again while also making it a little more "New York." 

These Everything Pigs In A Blanket are incredibly easy to make and have just the right amount of wow factor to make them the perfect party offering that will also please a crowd. I like to serve them with grainy mustard for dipping, but they are delicious on their own as well. 

Use good quality Hot Dogs and if possible, serve them fresh from the oven. You can also microwave the pigs in 20 second intervals if you need to heat them from room temperature.

Now it wouldn't be a Mad Men premier without at stiff cocktail, so we've included a purist version of the Old Fashioned - a favorite of Don's, minus the muddled fruit, and presumably the truest form of the classic drink.  

Everything Pigs In A Blanket 
Makes about 20
Adapted from Food.com 

Cook's Note: The Everything Mix below is formulated specifically for use in these Pigs In A Blanket because the salt content needed to be balanced with the salinity of the Hot Dog. If you would like to make true Everything Topping for use on something more plain, such as rolls or, of course, bagels, simply use 1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt rather than the 1/4 teaspoon required below. 

Ingredients 
1 Package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

8 Hot Dogs, we prefer Applegate Farms Natural, cut into equal thirds

Grainy Mustard for serving, optional

Everything Topping:
2 teaspoons Poppy Seeds

2 teaspoons Dried Onion Bits (We used Frontier Brand

2 teaspoons White Sesame Seed

2 teaspoons Dried Minced Garlic or Garlic Granules (not Garlic Powder)

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1 egg lightly beaten 


Method
1. Preheat the oven to 375 with the rack in the middle.

2. In a small bowl, mix the ingredients for the Everything Topping. 
Prepped and ready to bake, Photo: NK

3. Unroll the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls on a work surface. Carefully pull apart each triangle and cut them the long way using a sharp knife in order to create 3 skinnier triangles.

4. Starting with the base of each triangle, roll each Hot Dog third up in one piece of dough. When finished, press the point of the triangle into the dough to seal. Repeat until all the dogs are wrapped.

5. Using a pastry brush, paint the Egg Wash across the top of each Pig. Press 1-2 generous pinches of Everything Topping into the dough.

6. Place the pigs in the oven and bake 18-20 minutes, turning the pan midway through the baking, until pigs are golden brown and puffed.

7. Serve warm with optional grainy mustard! 

Now for your official Mad Men cocktail, we give you 
The Purist's Old Fashioned
A purist Old Fashioned, Photo: NK
CLICK HERE for the recipe.

Cheers! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mad For Mezze - Perfect Tzatziki

Tzatziki atop a Lamb Burger, Photo: NK
A simple yogurt sauce or dip with Cucumber and fresh Dill, Tzatziki is indispensible in Greek Cuisine. Every culture has its version of pre-meal nibbles, and in the Near East and Balkans, these are collectively called Mezze. 

I am excited to show you how simple and delicious today's Tzatziki is. 

It's the perfect dip to make for your next party (great served with Pita or Pita Chips) or a deliciously easy offering if you're a guest at someone else's fete. 

We've served ours atop basic Lamb Burgers, but the possibilities are really endless. 





The key to Tzatziki is simple - Let it sit in the fridge two or more hours so the flavors blend and develop.

But first, let's quickly explore some of my other favorite Mezze. 

Baba Ghanoush
Tarmosalata
Dolma / Dolmades
Tabbouleh

We'll look forward to getting around to making these soon enough!

Now for the main event:


Tzatziki comes together in minutes, Photo: NK

Perfect Tzatziki
Adapted from GreekFood.com
Serves 4 as a dip

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Thickly Grated Seedless English or Hot House Cucumber (from ~1/2 a Cucumber)
3 Gloves of Garlic, crushed to a paste or very finely minced
7 Ounces Full Fat Plain Greek Yogurt, we prefer Fage brand
2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
Scant 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 heaping Tablespoon Minced Fresh Dill 
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
Lemon Juice (optional)

Method:


1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice. 
Add the Oil and stir together gently. Finish with 1-2 optional squeezes of Lemon.

2. Allow to sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours

3. When ready to serve, taste for Salt and add extra if needed. Serve alongside Pita or Pita Chips. Enjoy!

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Slice of Heaven: Shaved Asparagus Pizza With Robiola & Truffle Oil

When I splurge, I really go for it. So it's no surprise that today's already decadent (yet gorgeously simple) Pizza of creamy, rich Robiola Cheese is further spiked with a good dose of truffle-y goodness. You only live once, you know? To keep dinner somewhat legitimate, we've topped our pie with thin shavings of raw Asparagus (a very good idea that I learned from Smitten Kitchen). Let it not be said that we don't eat our veggies. On the contrary, we love them! 

Shaved Asparagus Pizza With Robiola & Truffle Oil, Photo: NK

This Pizza makes your otherwise ho-hum dinner plans into a real treat in no time flat. The key? Robiola - a distinct yet very mild soft Italian Cheese that is worth seeking out, but if you can't find it, Goat Cheese or Ricotta make worthy substitutes. A nice bottle of good quality White Truffle Oil is a pantry investment that keeps on giving. For the Truffle Salt component, we love Vines & Branches Black Truffle Sea Salt but other brands are widely available at specialty markets.

Now let's get cooking and allow me to wish you Buon Appetito! 


Shaved Asparagus Pizza With Robiola & Truffle Oil
Serves 2-3
Inspired by Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
4-6 Large Stalks of Asparagus, tough ends trimmed off
1 Medium Round of Prepared Pizza Dough 
Flour, for dusting and rolling out dough
6 Ounces of Robiola* Cheese, room temperature (Goat Cheese or even Ricotta make good stand-ins)
1 Tablespoon White Truffle Oil plus more 
Truffle Salt, or other flakey Salt 
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
Recommended Equipment: A Vegetable Peeler,  A large piece of Parchment Paper & A Pizza Stone

*Robiola is a soft, bloomy Italian cheese that is made from a mix of goat and sheep milk. There are several types of Robiola. The most commonly used on Pizza would be Robiola Piemonte. You can also use Robiola Bosina which comes with an edible rind. In this case,  I like to scoop out the middle for topping the pizza and use some of the rind (not all) because it tends to froth a bit when melted. Either way, it will taste good! 

Method:
1. Place Pizza Stone on the bottom-most rack of the over and preheat for at least a half hour on 525.

Shaved Asparagus, Photo: NK
2. Meanwhile, on a clean, floured work surface, roll your dough into a ball. Stretch carefully into a round and transfer onto a large square of parchment paper. 

3. To prepare the Asparagus, place the spears on a work surface and drag a vegetable peeler across them lengthwise. Be sure to peel away from yourself to avoid injury. Keep going until you have a nice pile of Shaved Asparagus 

4. Drizzle Oil into the middle of the dough. Using a paper towel, lightly spread the Oil over the dough and  crust. Add a bit more if needed. You ideally want a slight sheen, not a grease slick.

5. Dot the Dough all over with chunks of Robiola. Nestle the Shaved Asparagus on top of the Cheese and Sprinkle all over with Truffle Salt, Black Pepper. and a few sprinkles of Crushed Red Pepper (if you like a little kick).
Prepare on Parchment for easy transfer to the Pizza Stone
Photo: NK

6. Drizzle Pie with a bit more Truffle Oil. Holding the parchment by each corner, carefully transfer the Pizza directly onto the Pizza Stone in the Oven.

7. Allow to cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Carefully remove Pizza and Stone from oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.  

Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shortcut: Scallops With White Wine & Orange Sauce

If you don't already know, this blog's raison d'ĂȘtre is to provide accessible yet still impressive recipes for the busy home cook (with a day job!). With that in mind, many of the dishes we feature can be prepared in well under an hour, most less than a half hour, and still more in mere minutes. One of the things that delights me most is when I can consult Neurotic Kitchen for a recipe. Cooking from your own blog is gratifying in itself, but being able to take the place of your reader is especially instructive. I'll inevitably go back and edit myself so that the method is that much easier for you. 


Seared Scallops with White Wine & Orange Sauce, Photo: NK
While we're on the subject, another thing that gives me a thrill is short-handing staple recipes when I am even more pressed for time than usual. You cook something enough, you get to know if by heart - so why not simplify it even further if the situation warrants? In fact, the more confident you become as a cook, the more you'll find yourself able to achieve similar results in half the time by taking the essence of a recipe and changing up the preparation for ease and speed. That's how most of Neurotic Kitchen's recipes are born, and how my standard splurge dish of Scallop With Citrus Beurre Blanc morphed into today's even speedier (I am talking minutes, here) Shortcut Scallop with White Wine and Orange Sauce. 

This cliff notes version of a fancier dish is a great weeknight recipe that's ready lightening quick. Under ten minutes to be exact. Do try our full-on Scallops With Orange Beurre Blanc recipe when you have a little bit more time and are looking to impress! 

Shortcut Seared Scallops with White Wine & Orange Sauce 
Serves 2 as an appetizer or light entree 

Ingredients: 
10-12 Large Sea Scallops, tough muscle removed
1 Small Shallot, chopped
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil + an extra drizzle
1/8 Cup Wine
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1/3 Cup Minced Parsley
Salt & Pepper

Method:

1. Pat very dry and season Scallops with Salt and Pepper.

2. Heat Oil in a skillet over medium heat. Swirl to cover evenly.  

3. When Oil is shimmering, add the Scallops and cook, untouched, until caramelized on one side, about 2-3 minutes. They should detach from the skillet easily, or with a gentle scape from a metal spatula. Flip Scallops and finish cooking for another minute or so until firm and opaque. Remove Scallops to a plate. 

4. In the skillet, drizzle a bit more oil of needed and add the Shallots. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften and become translucent - 4 to 5 minutes. 

5. Now add the Wine and Orange Juice. Bring the liquid to a boil and allow to bubble until it reduces to about a third of its original volume. This will happen quickly!

6. Turn off the heat and add Butter. Stir it until it melts. Finish by adding Parsley. 
To serve, plate the Scallops and Drizzle with the Orange Sauce. Enjoy!