Posts Tagged ‘good eats’

This episode of Good Eats is all about sauces and their power to take a dish to new levels. Alton gives some basic tips about thickening sauces and soups, stating that his preferred thickener is arrowroot starch. If you need to thicken a hot soup or sauce, first dissolve arrowroot starch in cold liquid (such as broth), and add the cold liquid to your warm sauce/soup. A good starting amount of starch is one tablespoon of starch per cup of liquid you wish to thicken. I always try to stash these sorts of tips in the library in the back of my brain!

Strip Steak with Pepper Cream Sauce

A pepper cream sauce is first in this episode, and Alton serves this sauce over strip steaks. In the episode he does not show how he cooks the steaks, but it is stated that the steak recipe accompanies the sauce recipe online. I cooked my steaks per the online recipe, and kept them warm in the oven while I made the sauce.

For the sauce, you will need beef broth, cognac, green peppercorns (these come in a brine and can be found near capers in the store), and cream.

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Ingredients for pepper cream sauce: beef broth, green peppercorns, cognac, and cream.

The first step of this sauce is deglazing the pan in which the steaks were cooked, which is done by adding 3/4 C of beef broth to the pan and scraping up any browned bits in the pan.

Let the broth reduce for a few minutes over high heat. Next, add 3 T cognac to the pan (this is about one miniature bottle), along with 1 T green peppercorns, drained and lightly crushed. Follow the peppercorns up with 3/4 C cream.

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Cognac, green peppercorns, and cream stirred into broth.

Let the sauce reduce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

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Reducing the sauce.

Spoon the sauce over your cooked steaks and enjoy!

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Strip steak with pepper cream sauce.

This is sauce is really quite delicious. It is indulgent without being heavy, and the spice from the green peppercorns is excellent with meat. The cognac gives the sauce a sweet, fruity character and the cream makes the sauce rich and smooth. You could pair this sauce with any meat, really. I would be quite happy to be served this sauce in a high-end steakhouse. The next time you serve steak, whip up a batch of this sauce to kick your steak game up a notch.

Hollandaise

Hollandaise sauce was something my mom made fairly regularly, usually serving it over asparagus or broccoli. While I knew Hollandaise could be a bit finicky, my mom did not solely reserve her Hollandaise efforts for holidays. We are so fortunate to have a mom who was such a good cook, and who served us things like Hollandaise! I have only made Hollandaise a couple of times myself, and making Alton’s recipe made me realize it is something to make more regularly. For Alton’s Hollandaise, you will need a heavy saucepan with about an inch of water, and a mixing bowl that comfortably nests on top of the saucepan. I’m sure a double boiler would also work. Begin by bringing the water in the saucepan to a simmer.

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Simmering water.

While the water heats, place three egg yolks and 1 t water in the bowl and whisk – do this off of the heat. Whisk the yolks until they are lighter in color, which will take a minute or two.

Add 1/4 t sugar to the yolks and whisk for another 30 seconds.

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Sugar added to yolks.

Place the yolks over the simmering water and whisk them continuously for three to five minutes, or until they thicken, lighten in color, and fall from the whisk in a ribbon.

At this point, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in 12 T unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time; you will need to place the bowl back over the simmering water occasionally to melt the butter.

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Sauce after adding all butter.

When all of the butter has been incorporated, add 1/2 t Kosher salt, 2 t lemon juice, and 1/8 t cayenne pepper.

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Kosher salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper added to sauce.

Serve the Hollandaise immediately, or store in a thermos until you are ready to use it. I served my Hollandaise for dinner over Eggs Benedict and steamed asparagus.

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Alton’s Hollandaise, served over asparagus and Eggs Benedict.

First off, we should all eat Eggs Benedict for dinner more often! Alton’s version of Hollandaise seems pretty foolproof to me, and is rich, creamy, and buttery. My only complaint about his Hollandaise is that I prefer my Hollandaise to have a bit more lemon. Otherwise, his Hollandaise hits all the marks of this classic sauce.

My back has been bothering me for the last six days, so I haven’t been able to be as active as I like to be. Though it is a nice, albeit smoky, summer day, I find myself rather confined because of my darn back. Seems like a good time to write a blog post.

Banana Ice Cream

I can honestly say that I like all fruit I have tried. That being said, bananas are definitely lower on my favorite fruits list. Alton, of course, came up with some recipes to showcase bananas, starting with his banana ice cream. You will need 2 1/4 pounds of bananas for this recipe, and you will need to place them in the freezer (still in their peels) overnight.

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2 1/4 pounds of bananas

The online recipe tells you to remove the bananas from the freezer and let them thaw for about an hour. In the episode, however, Alton instructed to let the bananas thaw completely, which took five hours for my bananas.

You freeze and thaw the bananas to get a mushy texture, which is desirable for making this ice cream; basically, the bananas will replace the eggs that are in a custard-based ice cream. Once the bananas are thawed, peel them and place them in a food processor. Add 1 T fresh lemon juice to the bananas and process them; the lemon juice will prevent browning.

Add 3/4 C light corn syrup to the processor, along with either 1/2 t vanilla extract or, preferably, the scrapings from one vanilla bean.

With the machine running, drizzle in 1 1/2 C heavy cream.

Chill the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it reaches 40 degrees.

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Banana ice cream base, ready to be chilled.

Once chilled, process the banana base in an ice cream maker.

Freeze the ice cream, airtight, for 3-6 hours before eating.

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Churned ice cream, heading to the freezer for several hours.

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Alton’s banana ice cream.

This is one of the easiest ice creams you will ever make, as there is no cooking of custard, etc. The texture of this ice cream really does seem similar to that of a custard-based ice cream, as the bananas give quite a smooth, rich mouthfeel. And, if you want banana flavor, this is loaded with it. Being kind of “meh” about bananas, we enjoyed this, but I think true banana lovers would find this amazing. This is a cold and easy summer treat.

Bananas Foster

I remember going to some fancy restaurant as a kid, and my brother and I ordered bananas foster for dessert. Prepared table-side with lots of flair, we were awed by the flames enveloping our dessert. I don’t think I had eaten bananas foster since that time, and Ted had never had it, so it seemed like it would be fun to give it a go at home. I don’t have the greatest track record with flames, such as when my fish and chips caught on fire in episode 22, but I figured I’d give it a whirl. For this recipe, you will need two bananas, 2 T unsalted butter, 1/4 C dark brown sugar, 1/4 t ground allspice, 1/2 t ground nutmeg, 1 T banana liqueur (I got a miniature), 1/2 t orange zest, and 1/4-1/3 C dark rum.

Alton prepared his bananas foster on a table-side burner, but I opted to make mine on the stove. Either way, place a large, heavy skillet on the burner over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, slice two bananas lengthwise in half, leaving their peels on to prevent browning. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the brown sugar and spices.

Stir this mixture into a syrup and add the banana liqueur.

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Banana liqueur added to syrup.

Remove the bananas’ peels and place them, cut side down, in the pan for one minute.

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Bananas added to the pan.

Flip the bananas and cook them for another minute. Some of the bananas may break, but they will still taste great.

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Bananas flipped after one minute.

Using two forks, transfer the bananas to a plate.

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Bananas, transferred to a plate.

Allow the sauce to return to a simmer and then turn off the heat.

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Sauce returning to a simmer.

Add the rum to the pan, swirl it around, and ignite it with a long-handled lighter.

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Rum added to pan and ignited with burner OFF.

Continue to swirl the pan until the flames extinguish.

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Swirling the pan until the flames go out.

Cook the sauce for 30 more seconds and stir in the orange zest.

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Orange zest added to sauce.

Spoon the sauce over the bananas and add some vanilla ice cream. Or, you can serve your bananas foster over waffles

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Alton’s bananas foster with vanilla ice cream.

. I have to admit that this was a really fun one to make, as my flames were at least a foot high! If you were bold enough to try this around kids, they would be super impressed, as I was when I saw it years ago. Yes, there is some alcohol in this dessert, but most of it cooks out (hello, flames!). In addition to the fun flair (or should I say flare?) of this dessert, it is also super tasty. The bananas get tender and caramelized with spices and brown sugar, and then you pour over the warm, buttery, rum-flavored sauce. Add in some cold vanilla ice cream and it’s a pretty fantastic combo.

Fried Plantains

The only plantains I’ve really had have been in chip form from a grocery store, so I was eager to cook with this ingredient for the first time. Our chain grocery store did not have plantains, but a local, smaller market did.

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Two plantains.

To make Alton’s fried plantains, you will need the following items:

  1. a rack over a sheet pan

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    Rack over sheet pan.

  2. a wide skillet with 1 1/2 C vegetable or canola oil at 325 degrees

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    Oil heated to 325.

  3. an inverted sheet pan with a sheet of parchment paper on it
  4. a wooden/plastic spatula

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    Inverted sheet pan with parchment, and a spatula.

  5. a medium bowl with 2 C water, 1 t Kosher salt, and 3 crushed cloves of garlic

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    Bowl of water with Kosher salt and garlic.

  6. a tea towel or a pad of paper towels for blotting
  7. 2 plantains, peeled (you may need to score the peels with a knife) and cut into 1-inch medallions

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    Plantains, peeled and cut into medallions.

The first step is to place the plantain medallions into the oil for 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the plantains and cook them for 1 1/2 minutes more. You want the plantains to be golden on both sides.

Decrease the heat under the oil and transfer the plantains to the parchment paper on the inverted sheet pan.

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Plantains transferred to parchment.

Use your spatula to smash each plantain medallion to about half of it’s original height.

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Smashed plantains.

Next, place the smashed plantains in the bowl of water with the garlic and salt for at least a minute. Alton never really specified why you place the plantains in the water, but I’m assuming it is to remove starch and impart flavor.

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Smashed plantains, placed in water.

After their soak, move the plantains to towels to dry.

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Soaked plantains drying on paper towels.

While the plantains dry, increase the heat under the oil, bringing it back up to ~325 degrees. Once at temperature, fry the plantains again for 2-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

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Plantains back in hot oil for second frying.

Transfer the fried plantains to the rack over a sheet pan and season them liberally with Kosher salt while they are still hot.

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Fried plantains on rack. Seasoned with Kosher salt.

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Fried plantains

We ate these for lunch one day and they were great. They are reminiscent of french fries, yet with slightly sweeter flavor. They are golden and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You could really pair them with any condiment you like. I ate mine with some hot sauce, which I thought was great with the subtle sweetness of the plantains. I really liked how Alton had you prep everything in advance for this recipe, as it made the frying process super easy. I highly recommend making these, and they’d make a great side for any burger or sandwich.

Unintentionally, I’ve gotten a bit behind on this blog lately. It’s time to get back in the swing of things, and get back to making more of Alton’s good eats. Summer heat has hit us lately, so I have been making lots of light dishes (like gazpacho and summer rolls) that do not require turning on the oven. After episode 104, I will officially have finished cooking my way through seven seasons of Good Eats, which will put me at the half-way point of this project; I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there!

French Toast

Alton’s version of French toast begins the night before you plan to have it for breakfast. Prior to bed, set out eight slices of bread, sliced 1/2″ thick; this will allow the bread to dry out overnight.

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Eight slices of bread, set out overnight.

Before bed you will also make the custard by combining 1 C half-and-half, 2 T warm honey, 1/4 t Kosher salt, and 3 eggs. Set the custard in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 375 and pour the custard into a pie or cake pan.

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Chilled custard poured into pie plate.

Place two slices of the air-dried bread into the custard, soaking them for 30 seconds on each side.

Transfer the soaked slices of bread to a rack over a sheet pan, letting them sit for at least two minutes; Alton says this step is key, as it allows the custard to fully penetrate the bread, and any excess custard can drip away.

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Soaked bread draining on a rack over a sheet pan.

Next, preheat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Ideally, you want your skillet to be at 350 degrees for cooking, which I was able to check with an infrared thermometer. If you do not have an infrared thermometer, you can test your skillet with some butter; if it foams when you add it to the skillet, it is ready.

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Skillet preheated to ~350.

Once your skillet is hot, butter the skillet and add your two soaked bread slices, allowing them to cook until golden brown on both sides.

While your toast cooks, repeat the soaking/draining steps with two more slices of bread. Transfer the cooked toast to your rack over a sheet pan. Continue soaking, draining, and cooking until all of your toast has been cooked. Finally, place your rack of toast in the oven for five minutes before serving with butter, fruit, syrup, or whatever floats your boat.

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Toast in the oven for 5 minutes.

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French toast with butter and maple syrup.

In the episode, Alton said that the dual cooking method (skillet and oven) results in French toast that is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, and he was right. His French toast is very lightly sweetened and has a richness without being dense. Prepping the custard and bread the night before makes morning prep pretty easy, and finishing the toast in the oven means you can have everyone’s toast ready at the same time – no eating in shifts! Great French toast recipe!

Bruschetta

According to Alton, bruschetta should really only consist of five ingredients:  bread, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Alton’s recipe begins with slicing a narrow loaf of Italian or French bread on the bias, and about 3/4″ thick. Toast the bread under a broiler for about two minutes per side, or until golden.

While the toast is hot, rub it with a head of garlic that has been cut in half to expose the cloves.

Brush the toast with some good olive oil, and sprinkle on some pepper and coarse salt.

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Bruschetta with soup.

I enjoyed Alton’s bruschetta as a side to a cauliflower soup. Although Alton’s recipe is incredibly simple, it is quite delicious in its simplicity and makes a great side dish. The key with a recipe like this is to use high-quality ingredients. I will caution that this bruschetta packs a big punch of garlic, but I love garlic, so that’s not a problem for me. When I was 15, my mom and I traveled to Atlanta to spectate at the 1996 Olympics. While there, we stayed with a family who shared with us a version of bruschetta they had eaten while in Italy, and that version is still my favorite. For their recipe, you rubbed toasted bread with a raw garlic clove and dipped the bread into good olive oil, followed by grated Parmesan. After that, you topped the bread with a few leaves of fresh basil, a couple thin slices of campari tomato, salt, and pepper. I just like the added freshness from the basil and tomato.

Welsh Rarebit

Although I had heard of Welsh rarebit, I had never eaten it before making it for this episode. Alton made his rarebit in a camp stove by his fireplace, but I made mine on the stove over low heat. Maybe if I were making this recipe in December… Anyway, regardless of your vessel, begin by melting 2 T butter.

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Melting 2 T butter.

Once the butter has melted, whisk in 2 T flour.

Next, add 1 t Dijon mustard, 1 t Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Whisk in 1/2 C good dark beer and 3/4 C heavy cream.

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Dark beer for rarebit.

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Dark beer and cream added to pan.

Once combined, gradually add 6 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, a handful at a time.

When the cheese is incorporated and the mixture is smooth, season the mixture with a few drops of hot sauce, to your taste.

Spoon the sauce over four slices of toasted bread and enjoy (Alton prefers rye bread, but my bakery did not have any).

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Welsh rarebit.

Since I have no other Welsh rarebits to compare this recipe to, I can only say that we liked it, though it isn’t a “pretty” meal. The type and quality of beer you use does matter, as the beer flavor is quite prominent in this dish, and I would like to experiment with some other beers to see which works best. To me, this really is a cold weather meal, as it is heavier comfort-like food. It seems like it would be a great dinner after a day of skiing or sledding. On that note, this would also be an easy camping meal. This recipe makes enough sauce for at least eight slices of toast, so I refrigerated the leftover sauce and reheated it gently on the stove a couple days later. This is another easy, tasty recipe, and it was fun to try a dish that I had only previously heard of.

Although I have made pies in the past, meringue pie was a new venture for me with this episode. I don’t have anything against meringue pies, though I suppose I probably prefer a good double-crusted fruit pie. Having made Alton’s pecan pie last Thanksgiving, I was pretty confident that Alton’s lemon meringue pie would be spectacular. He broke his pie recipe into two parts, the first being the crust.

Pie Crust

Alton’s pie crust calls for both butter and lard, with the butter primarily providing flavor and the lard ensuring a flaky texture. The recipe starts with placing 3 oz of cubed butter in the freezer for 15 minutes, along with 1 oz of cubed lard. Also, at this time, place two pie plates in the freezer.

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Lard and butter, cubed and headed to the freezer.

While the fat chills, put some ice in a squirt bottle with 1/4 C water. Next, in a food processor pulse together 6 ounces of flour with 1/2 t salt.

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Flour and salt in the food processor.

Add the chilled butter, pulsing the mixture five or six times.

Add the cubed lard and pulse three more times.

Use the squirt bottle to thoroughly spritz the surface of the flour mixture and pulse the dough five times.

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Spritzing dough surface with ice water.

The dough should hold together when squeezed, which should take approximately 2 T of ice water. Continue spritzing the dough with more water until it holds together easily without crumbling. I found that I needed to spritz the dough several times.

Once the dough holds together, move the dough to a large ziplock bag, squeezing the dough into a ball, and then flattening it into a disc. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and cut off the two sides of the ziplock bag, leaving the zipper top and the sealed bottom intact. Open the bag and flour both sides of the dough.

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Edges of sides of ziplock cut off, and dough floured.

Close the bag again and use a rolling pin to roll the dough until it barely reaches beyond the open edges of the bag. I love Alton’s method of rolling pie dough in a bag because it keeps my counter and rolling pin clean!

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Floured dough, rolled out inside of ziplock bag.

Peel back the plastic and re-flour the top of the dough.

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Ziplock opened and top surface re-floured.

Place one of your chilled pie pans on top of the floured dough and flip the dough onto the back of the pan.

Remove the plastic from the dough and place the second cold pie plate upside down on the dough, so the dough is between the two pie plates (the dough will be lining the second plate).

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Second cold pie plate placed on top of dough upside down, so dough is lining second pie plate.

Flip the pie plates again and remove the top plate (the first one), and your second pie plate will be perfectly lined with your dough; just be sure to press the dough down into the edges of the pan.

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Pie plates flipped over with dough between them. Dough is lining second pie plate.

Cut away any excess dough hanging over the edges. There is no need to make the dough edges fancy, as they will be covered with meringue. Use a fork to dock the bottom of the crust and place the dough in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes. This helps to form fat layers in the dough, which will yield a flaky crust.

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Docked dough. Excess dough removed.

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 425. When the oven is ready, place the pie crust on a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.

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Crust lined with parchment and beans, and placed in oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the parchment and beans/weights, and bake the crust for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Let the crust cool completely before using. You could use this pie crust for any type of pie, but I had to continue on and make a lemon meringue filling, as that was what Alton did in the episode. This pie crust recipe is super easy and I love Alton’s tips/tricks for rolling the dough and lining the pie plate.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I ended up making Alton’s lemon meringue pie twice in two days. Why? My first lemon meringue pie was lemon soup. I had followed Alton’s directions exactly as he made the pie in the episode, which resulted in a filling that was not nearly thick enough. For my second pie, I cooked my filling much longer than Alton recommended and ended up with a perfect pie. Here, I’ll go through the steps as Alton did them, giving my recommended changes along the way. The lemon meringue pie begins with making the meringue. Place 4 egg whites (save the yolks for the lemon filling) in the bowl of a mixer and add a pinch of cream of tartar (helps to denature proteins).

Whip the whites by hand until they are frothy.

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Egg whites beaten to a froth by hand.

Then, beat with the mixer on medium-high. When you have a light foam in the bowl, begin slowly adding 2 T sugar with the mixer running.

Beat the whites until you have stiff peaks. You can check for stiff peaks by quickly dipping/withdrawing your beater – if a peak forms and remains, you have stiff peaks. If a peak forms, but falls, you need to keep beating. Once you have stiff peaks, place a pan lid on the bowl and set it aside in a cool place.

Oh, and preheat your oven to 375. To make the lemon filling, whisk 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl and set them aside.

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Beaten egg yolks.

In a saucier whisk together 1/3 C cornstarch and 1 1/2 C water, placing it over medium heat.

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Cornstarch and water in saucier.

Whisk 1 1/3 C sugar and 1/4 t salt into the starch mixture. Stir this mixture often, bringing it to a boil.

Once boiling, simmer the mixture for an additional minute.

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Simmering starch mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly beat about half of the hot mixture into the bowl of beaten egg yolks, adding only a whisk-full at a time.

When half of the hot mixture has been added to the yolks, whisk the egg mixture back into the pan.

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Egg mixture whisked back into saucier.

Alton tells you to return the pan to the heat, simmering it for one minute; I did this with my first pie and the mixture was very runny, but I assumed it would thicken later. Nope. Instead, for my second pie, I cooked the mixture for about 10 minutes, until it was bubbling and quite thick. Keep in mind that the mixture will not thicken much later, so you want it to resemble your desired pie filling texture now.

Once thickened, turn off the heat and stir in 3 T butter.

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Butter whisked in.

When the butter has melted, add 1 T lemon zest and 1/2 C fresh lemon juice.

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Finished lemon filling.

Pour the filling into the baked/cooled crust.

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Finished lemon filling poured into cooled crust.

Working quickly, beat your meringue again for about 30 seconds to plump it up.

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Refreshed meringue.

Dump the meringue on the hot lemon filling, spreading it with a spatula to seal it against the crust edges. Smooth the top.

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Meringue, spread onto hot lemon filling.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake it at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Let the pie cool completely before slicing.

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Meringue after baking.

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A slice of lemon meringue pie.

This pie was great… the second time around. Alton’s crust recipe is fool-proof, flaky, and buttery. His lemon filling has a perfect balance of tartness and sweetness, and is bursting with lemon flavor. And, his meringue came out perfectly both times I made it. If you are interested in making a lemon meringue pie, do this one, but be sure to cook your lemon filling until it is thick.

While I breeze through some episodes, this episode was one that took a little while for me to complete. Not only were there five recipes in this episode, but they also all contained nuts; this made for some pretty rich food, so I had to space the recipes out a little bit. First was Alton’s cashew sauce.

Cashew Sauce

This recipe is really two recipes in one:  one for cashew butter, and another for the cashew sauce that is made WITH the cashew butter. To make the cashew butter, combine 10 ounces of roasted/unsalted cashews with two heavy pinches of Kosher salt in a food processor.

Place 2 T honey in the microwave for ~15 seconds to loosen it up, and combine the honey with 1/3 C walnut oil.

With the food processor running, slowly add the oil/honey until the mixture is smooth.

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Honey/oil drizzling into cashews.

If you just want cashew butter, you can stop here.

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Cashew butter.

To continue on and make Alton’s cashew sauce, whisk 1/2 C of your cashew butter with 3/4 C coconut milk and 1/4 t cayenne pepper in a saucier over medium heat. Once smooth, use the sauce as desired.

Alton recommended serving the cashew sauce over chicken or rice. I chose to serve my cashew sauce over some sweet potato “noodles” and meatballs, along with a little bit of cilantro.

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Cashew sauce served over sweet potato noodles and meatballs.

IMG_7353First off, Alton’s cashew butter is super delicious; it’s sort of like a richer, sweeter, better peanut butter, and it is great on pretty much anything. We were also fans of the cashew sauce, which was rich, nutty, and had a perfect punch of heat from the cayenne pepper. And, if you are too lazy to make your own nut butter (it is worth it, though), you could always use purchased nut butter to make the sauce. This sauce is also super versatile, as you could use it over meat, pasta, or vegetables.

Pistachio Mixed Herb Pesto

I love pesto and it is something I make every summer. I typically make basil pesto, so I can use up the last of my fresh basil, freeze the pesto in batches, and continue to dream of summer as the weather gets colder. Sage pesto is nice to make in the fall too! Alton’s pesto recipe in this episode was a little different from the other pestos I have made in the past, as parsley was the primary herb and toasted pistachios were the nut of choice (I toasted my pistachios in a 400 degree oven for ~5 minutes).

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Ingredients for pesto: garlic, thyme, tarragon, sage, oregano, olive oil, Parmesan, parsley, and toasted pistachios.

To make Alton’s pesto, drop 1/2 to 1 clove of garlic into the lid of a running blender, chopping the garlic finely (I opted for a full clove since I like garlic). When the garlic is chopped, turn off the blender and add 2 T fresh lemon thyme (I could not find lemon thyme, so used regular thyme), 2 T fresh tarragon, 1 T fresh sage, 1 T fresh oregano, 2 C packed flat leaf parsley, 1/2 C grated Parmesan, and 3/4 C toasted pistachios.

With the blender running, drizzle in 2/3 C olive oil until emulsified.

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Pesto, after drizzling in olive oil.

Alton recommends serving his pesto on pesto or toast. I served the pesto over zucchini “noodles” with fresh Parmesan.

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Pesto over zucchini noodles.

This pesto is super flavorful, tastes like a variety of herbs, and has great color. Since everyone always thinks of basil and pine nuts/walnuts for pesto, this version really mixes things up. And, if you happen to have fresh herbs in your garden, this can also be a relatively inexpensive pesto recipe. Give this one a try for a tasty twist on pesto.

Pistachio Fruit Balls

For a sweet treat using nuts, Alton made these pistachio fruit balls.

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Ingredients for pistachio fruit balls: roasted pistachios, dates, dried apricots, orange juice, golden raisins, creme de cassis, and dried cherries.

Begin this recipe by grinding 1 C roasted pistachios in a food processor. Set the pistachios aside.

Next, in a large bowl combine 1/2 C pitted dates, 1/2 C dried apricots, 1/2 C golden raisins, and 1 C dried cherries.

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Combined dried fruit.

Run the dried fruit mixture through a meat grinder with a medium die, catching the ground fruit in a bowl.

Add half of the ground pistachios to the ground fruit, along with 1 T fresh orange juice and 2 T creme de cassis. Note:  creme de cassis is a black currant liqueur.

Using your hands, work the mixture together until thoroughly combined. Once combined, use a melon baller to form individual balls of the fruit mixture, and roll the balls in the remaining ground pistachios.

If you find that the mixture is too sticky, you can put some vegetable oil on your hands. Store the fruit balls in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Pistachio fruit balls.

The online reviews of this recipe are mixed, which I find surprising. We thought these were a really great, healthy, sweet snack. Some reviewers complained of this being a messy or difficult recipe, but I found neither to be the case at all. You could always substitute a different liqueur if you did not have creme de cassis, but I wanted to test the recipe as written. These fruit balls had just the perfect amount of sweetness, held together perfectly, and had great crunch from the pistachios. We ate these as a snack every day for a week. I liked this recipe!

Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi

When Alton made this recipe in the episode, he used mahi mahi, but I could not find mahi mahi where I live. Instead, Ted splurged and picked up a couple halibut fillets. This recipe makes enough for four servings, so I halved the recipe for us. To make the recipe for four servings, coarsely crush 5 ounces of roasted macadamia nuts; you can do this in the food processor or you can put them in a tea towel and whack it on the counter.

Put the macadamias in a bowl and add 2 T flour, 1/2 C Panko bread crumbs, and 1/2 a stick of butter, melted. Stir the mixture to combine and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 425, placing a rack in the center of the oven. While the oven preheats, line a sheet pan with foil and brush it liberally with vegetable oil. Place fish fillets (6-8 ounces each) on the foil and season them with Kosher salt and pepper.

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Fish fillets placed on lubed foil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Stick the fish in the preheated oven for five minutes to par cook.

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Par cooking the fish.

Remove the fish from the oven and brush it with coconut milk; it should take about 2 T.

Pat the nut mixture lightly onto the fish, crumpling the foil up around the edges of the fish to keep the nut crust from sliding off.

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Nut crust patted onto fish, and foil propped up.

Stick the fish back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until golden brown. My crust took the full 10 minutes to be golden.

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Fish after cooking.

Let the fish rest at room temperature for ~10 minutes before eating. Honestly, I was worried that the time needed to make my nut crust golden would render my fish overcooked, but the fish turned out to be perfectly cooked. We enjoyed this on a warm evening, with a glass of white wine and a squeeze of lemon.

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Alton’s macadamia nut crusted fish.

This is a rich fish dish that would be worthy of serving for a special occasion. The fish was moist and the nut crust was rich, crunchy, buttery, and nutty. Great recipe. Oh, and if you don’t know, keep the macadamia nuts away from your dogs, as they are toxic.

Macadamia Nut Crust

It turns out that the macadamia nut crust above can also be used as a pie crust. So, again, to make the crust, chop 5 ounces of roasted macadamia nuts (you can roast them in the oven for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees).

Combine the chopped macadamia nuts with 2 T flour, 1/2 C Panko bread crumbs, and 1/2 a stick of butter, melted.

Pat the crust mixture into a pie plate and use with any pie filling recipe. If you need to blind bake the crust for your pie recipe, bake it at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Well, I ended up making this pie crust twice. I needed to blind bake my crust because I was making a no-bake key lime pie, but it turns out that 20 minutes is way too long to blind bake this crust. Yep, my first crust was scorched.

When I made the crust the second time, I began checking it at 10 minutes and it was done in about 15.

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A slice of key lime pie with macadamia crust.

This crust added a great crunch and nutty flavor to my pie, and it was very easy to prep with no rolling/chilling of dough. The downside of this crust was that it was super crumbly, so it didn’t make for pretty slices of pie. Other than that, though, this was a buttery, nutty, crispy pie crust.

With having completed Alton’s fudge recipes, I have officially cooked my way through the first 100 episodes of Good Eats. How many recipes has that been? Honestly, I haven’t counted. Fudge is something I have a favorite standby recipe for, which my mom received years ago, handwritten on an index card, from an old woman she met at church. Though I don’t make fudge often, I know which recipe I always reach for. Did Alton’s chocolate fudge recipe dethrone Mom’s? Read on to find out.

Chocolate Fudge

For Alton’s chocolate fudge, butter an 8×8-inch square pan and line it with wax paper. For an easy way to line the pan, place the pan on top of a large piece of wax paper and use a sharp knife to cut the paper diagonally from each corner of the pan. Place the paper in the buttered pan and the corners will magically fold/overlap perfectly, and you can trim any excess with scissors.

In a two-quart saucepan combine 2 3/4 C sugar, 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, 2 T unsalted butter, 1 T corn syrup (helps to prevent crystal formation), and 1 C half-and-half.

Stir the mixture over medium heat until you are certain the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted.

Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and place a lid on the pan for three minutes; this helps to remove any crystals that have formed on the sides of the pan.

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Lid placed on pan for three minutes.

After three minutes, remove the lid and clamp on a candy thermometer, letting the mixture cook until it reaches 234 degrees; if you have high humidity, Alton says you will want to go a few degrees higher.

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Bringing fudge to 234 degrees.

As soon as you hit 234, turn off the heat and add 2 T butter to the top of the pan, but do not stir the mixture. The butter will keep the surface of the fudge from drying out while it cools. Be careful not to agitate the pan at all during the cooling process, as this could cause large sugar crystals to form in your fudge.

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Butter added at 234 degrees.

Once your fudge hits 110 degrees, use a wooden spoon to stir it very quickly. Stir the fudge until its surface becomes matte and it falls from the spoon in clumps. Finally, add 1 T vanilla extract and roasted/chopped nuts, if desired; I opted to leave my fudge plain.

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Quickly stirring fudge with a wooden spoon.

Spread the fudge into your prepared pan and let it cool at room temperature for two hours. This particular fudge should be stored at room temperature.

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Fudge poured into prepped pan.

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A piece of Alton’s fudge.

While Alton’s fudge had a very rich chocolate flavor, it lacked the dense creaminess I like in fudge. Instead, this fudge seemed to have a dry, slightly crumbly texture. Some online reviewers complained of this fudge being gritty, but that was not a problem with my fudge. I simply like my fudge to be a bit less dry. Don’t get me wrong… this fudge is certainly good, but it still can’t top my mom’s.

Peanut Butter Fudge

Unfortunately, there is no online link to Alton’s recipe for peanut butter fudge, though there appears to be a video. To make his peanut butter fudge, place two sticks of butter (cut in pieces) and 1 C smooth peanut butter in a large glass bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, poking a few holes in the top to release steam.

Microwave the butter/peanut butter on high for two minutes. While the bowl is in the microwave, prepare an 8×8-inch pan by buttering it and lining it with wax paper (see chocolate fudge recipe above).

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Buttered/lined pan.

After microwaving, remove the plastic and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon.

Cover the bowl with plastic again and microwave for two more minutes on high.

Remove the plastic and stir in 1 t vanilla and 16 ounces of powdered sugar, sifted (I sifted the sugar straight into the bowl).

Stir the fudge with a wooden spoon until it is dull and thick, and then switch to a potato masher to get the sugar all mixed in.

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Blended fudge, ready to go in pan.

Press the fudge into the lined pan, top it with additional wax paper, and refrigerate for a couple hours, or until set. Store this fudge in the refrigerator.

Unfortunately, I somehow never got a photo of a piece of this fudge. If I’m going to go for fudge, I typically reach for chocolate, but Alton’s peanut butter fudge is pretty fantastic. This fudge tastes like the peanut butter filling of a peanut butter cup, and is really quite addictive. Of the two fudge recipes in this episode, this is the one I would surely do again because it is super delicious and very easy to make.

In this episode of Good Eats, Alton tackles a couple of “man food” recipes. What exactly is man food? Well, judging from the two recipes in this episode, I take it that man food is either composed of meat, deep-fried, or both. This girl was certainly happy to give Alton’s manly recipes a try.

Corn Dogs

While I can truly appreciate a good hot dog (especially a Chicago dog), corn dogs have never really done much for me; it comes down to the corn batter. Typical corn dog batter is chewy, dense, and overly sweet. I was hopeful that Alton could improve upon the carnival classic with his recipe. To make his corn dogs, pour a gallon of peanut oil in a deep fryer (or in a Dutch oven if you are like me and don’t have a deep fryer), heating it to 375 degrees.

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Peanut oil, heating to 375.

While the oil heats, combine the dry ingredients for the batter in a large bowl:  1 C cornmeal, 1/4 t baking soda, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t cayenne pepper, 2 t Kosher salt, and 1 C flour.

In a second bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:  2 T minced/seeded jalapeno, 1/3 C grated onion, 8.5 ounces of canned creamed corn, and 1 1/2 C buttermilk.

Note #1:  This recipe makes a lot of batter. I halved the recipe, made five corn dogs, and still had a lot of batter remaining. Note #2:  You can complete the recipe through this step ahead of time, but you cannot move onto the next step until you are ready to cook.

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Dry ingredients on the left and wet ingredients on the right, waiting to be combined once ready to cook.

Once ready to cook, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Pour the batter into a pint glass and set it aside for 10 minutes.

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Corn dog batter, poured in a pint glass and left to sit for 10 minutes.

While the batter rests, you can prepare your hot dogs (Alton prefers all-beef hot dogs). To prep the dogs, insert unseparated chopsticks or thick wooden skewers into your hot dogs, and roll the hot dogs in cornstarch, using your hand to remove any excess; you want a very thin coating of cornstarch.

Dip each hot dog into the pint glass of batter and then into the hot oil.

Alton says it will take four to five minutes to fry the corn dogs, but I found that my dogs were golden and crispy in about two minutes. Remove the corn dogs and place them on a rack. Serve the corn dogs with mustard and/or ketchup.

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Alton’s corn dogs.

These corn dogs were absolutely the best corn dogs I have ever had, and I will make them again. The batter was light, crispy, and slightly spicy, and the hot dogs remained juicy. The batter really reminded me of Alton’s batter for fish and chips, which I also loved. I highly recommend these, as they are very easy to prepare and take very little time, aside from heating the oil. Whether you already love corn dogs, or are skeptical that you could love corn dogs, these will be the best corn dogs of your life.

Mini Man Burgers

Since my husband is from the midwest, I’ve long heard how White Castle is the classic place to get sliders, and I have even visited a White Castle once or twice. I was interested to see what Ted would think of Alton’s take on sliders. To make proper sliders, Alton recommends using an electric griddle. We don’t have a true electric griddle, but we do have a panini press that has griddle plates, so I used that. Set your griddle temperature to 350 degrees and preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Wrap your slider buns in foil and place them in the warm oven while you prep the meat.

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Slider buns to heat in the oven.

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper, placing a pound of ground chuck (20% fat) on top.

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Meat placed on parchment-lined pan.

Top the meat with a layer of plastic wrap and use a bottle to roll the meat until it fills the bottom of the pan.

To season the meat, combine 1/2 t onion powder, 1/2 t garlic powder, 1/2 t black pepper, and 1/2 t Kosher salt, and sprinkle it all over the surface of the meat.

Next, use the parchment paper to fold the meat in half onto itself, pressing it together with your fingers.

Using a pizza cutter, cut the meat into eight equal rectangles, and cook the patties on the preheated griddle for two to three minutes per side.

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Meat, cut into 8 rectangles.

While the meat cooks, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on your warm burger buns, as this will keep the buns from getting soggy.

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Heated bun spread with mayo.

Transfer the cooked burgers to the buns and serve with condiments. We ate our sliders with oven fries on the side, and I opted to put cheese and mustard on mine.

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An Alton slider with fries.

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An Alton slider with cheese and mustard.

Alton’s sliders were pretty darn tasty, with the patties being very well-seasoned, juicy, and flavorful. There’s also something kind of fun about eating sliders since they’re so small, don’t you think? Ted thought these sliders were a good representation of the real midwestern thing. Would he have them again? You betcha.