Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Recipes That Are So Easy, They’re SCARY!

By Carl Weiss

Image courtesy of Pixabay
With Halloween right around the corner I thought I would share some recipes that are so easy to make, they’re scary.  By that, I mean that there are some recipes that require little in the way of cooking prowess.  These are no-trick recipes where as long as you combine the right ingredients in the correct amounts, you wind up with a homemade treat. 

Beer Bread

Who doesn’t like home-baked bread?  The stuff they sell in the supermarket has little in the way of texture or taste.  That being said, preparing homemade bread can be an arduous task, requiring the baker to proof yeast, and let the dough rise several times before you can pop it in the oven. Who has 4-hours or so waste on baking bread?  If that’s the only thing stopping you, let me introduce you to the world’s easiest bread recipe.  Not only doesn’t it require you to proof the yeast, it doesn’t require any yeast.  It substitutes a bottle of your favorite beer.  No hassle, no rising, no problem.  The recipe is so simple that I don’t even consider it baking.  It’s more like chemistry.  Check out the video below and you will see what I mean.  You can thank me later.

The Perils of Pasta

Being half-Italian, I grew up watching my mother make all kinds of homemade pasta.  The problem is that like bread, most pasta recipes require a lot of time to create.  If you’ve got nothing better to do with your weekend, by all means take the time to whip up a batch of linguini, fettucine, or ravioli.  For those of you who have better things to do with your time off, allow me to show you two of the simplest ways to make homemade pasta.  Better still, you don’t have to buy a pasta maker since neither recipe requires you to roll and slice noodles.

The first recipe is actually a form of German pasta called a spätzle, which can be served with sauce, gravy or even in broth.  The beauty of this recipe is that it takes longer to boil a pot of water than it does to make these noodles.  Even the recipe is simplicity itself.  Simply pour 2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl, then break 2 eggs atop the flour and add 2 cups of water. Then stir into a smooth batter.  Once the water comes to a boil, simply pour the pasta onto a cutting board and using a knife or spoon, flip the batter a little at a time into the boiling water (If you want to save time, buy a spätzle maker as you will see in the video below.)  Once the noodles float to the surface, use a slotted spoon to fish them into a serving bowl.

Not only are these noodles superb on their own, but they make dishes like stew and coq au vin even tastier.  You can also use spätzle in soups, since they won’t drink up all the broth like egg noodles sometimes do.  I even combine leftover spätzle with scrambled eggs for breakfast. 

Easy Gnocchi

Image courtesy of Wikimedia
Another Italian delicacy is gnocchi, which are ½ inch dumplings traditionally made with potatoes, eggs and flour.  While good, this is also another recipe that traditionally causes the chef to waste the better part of a day, since you have to first boil, cool and then rice potatoes.  But what if there was a simpler way to make gnocchi?  It turns out that you can eliminate the potatoes altogether by substituting ricotta cheese in their place.  This also makes the recipe simplicity itself. 

If you buy the large tub of ricotta use 2 eggs.  Buy the small tub, use one egg.  Either way, to make gnocchi, dump the ricotta into a bowl, then fill the container to the top with flour.  Add this atop the cheese, then add the egg(s).  Stir into a dough.  Pour the dough onto a floured board and cut into 5-10 dough balls.  Take a ball of dough and roll into a snake ½ inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the snake into ½ inch long dumplings.  Place the dumplings onto a cookie sheet that you have sprayed with non-stick spray.  Usually a large batch will make enough gnocchi to fill 2 cookie sheets.  Place the cookie sheets into the freezer for an hour or so.  Then pluck the gnocchi from the cookie sheet and place the frozen dumplings in a couple of freezer bags.  You can store frozen gnocchi for months at a time. To serve, bring a pot of water to a boil and empty a bag of dumplings into the pot.  When they float to the surface, scoop them to a serving bowl and top with your Bolognese or Marinara.  (see my Bolognese recipe below)

Blender Tech

While many Man Cave Chefs shy away from having a lot of kitchen gadgets, most have a blender.  This single device can do so much more than just mix drinks.  I use mine to make everything from soups and sauces, to dips and desserts.  Below are several of my favorite blender recipes.

Bloody Mary Soup

If you like tomato soup, you will love Bloody Mary Soup.  Into a blender put a large can of diced tomatoes, 1 stalk of celery, diced finely, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of hot sauce.  Puree, then cook in a pot over a medium flame.  Add a pinch of salt and a generous garnish of fresh ground pepper.  (see video below)

Blender Salsa

If you want something tangy to go with chips, making salsa in a blender is child’s play.  Start by dicing a green pepper and an onion. Take these and add them to the blender, then pour in a large can of crushed tomatoes, a small can of green chilies, and a shot of hot sauce.  Pulse until blended, but stop before your salsa turns into tomato soup.  Refrigerate overnight. (see video below)

Banana Pudding

Have you ever wondered what to do with overripe bananas?  Here is a quick and easy way to turn them into dessert.  Slice 4 bananas.  Toss them in the blender.  Top with 2 cups of milk. Add 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of honey or sugar and a ½ tsp of vanilla.  Puree, then pour into a pot.  Heat over a medium flame stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.  Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.  Serves 6.

Blender Brownies

This recipe is quick and easy to make.  Start by cracking 3 eggs into the blender.  Melt a stick of butter or a ½ cup of margarine.  Add a ½ teaspoon of vanilla and a ½ stick of melted butter. (Make sure the butter cools a bit or you run the risk of scrambling the eggs.) Next, add a ½ cup of cocoa powder, plus a cup of sugar and blend, then gradually add a cup of all-purpose flour.  Pour the batter into a prepared 8x12 baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-minutes.  Yields 16 brownies.

For more Man Cave Recipes, check out the Man Cave Munchies website.  If you would like to share your favorite recipes with me, email mancavemunchies@gmail.com

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