Weapons of Mass Deliciousness: Foolproof Recipes for Your Culinary Arsenal

Originally published for STUFF Magazine. Read the article online here.

Our new Guy issue’s “Best Men” feature outlines some key skills dudes should have at their disposal, offering local experts’ cheat sheets for the bedroom, the bar, and, yep, the kitchen. We’ve already laid out one easy-to-whip-up recipe, but perhaps shrimp ceviche tacos aren’t your cup of tequila. If so, master one of these other go-to goof-proof recipes from the pros, claim it as your own signature dish, and you’ll always be prepared to prove your culinary prowess in those oh-crap-my-date’s-arriving-in-an-hour scenarios. It’s a sure way to impress your lady (or gentleman) friend — seasoning, searing, and sautéing skills are sexy, any way you slice it.

Carbonara (Italian Bacon & Eggs)

Chef-Proprietor Jason Owens, Biltmore Bar & Grille (1205 Chestnut Street, Newton Upper Falls, 617.527.2550), Local 149 (149 P Street, South Boston, 617.269.0900), and American Provisions (613 East Broadway, Boston, 617.269.6100)

Owens says: “It’s great planned or as an unplanned late-night meal. You can usually find all ingredients in anyone’s fridge or cupboard…guaranteed late-night deal closer.”

1/2 pound of some pancetta sliced thin from butcher shop

Homemade fettuccini or gourmet thin pasta (“Making pasta from scratch is always fun and romantic,” Owens says.)

4-6 ounces of fresh grated Pecorino Romano

4 farm-fresh eggs

Olive oil

Fresh minced garlic

Oregano

Salt & pepper

On-the-fly ingredients:

Spaghetti from the cupboard

Bacon

Grated parmesan

Olive oil

Any form of garlic

Italian seasoning

Salt & pepper

Step 1: Whip eggs into a mixing bowl like when you scramble. Mix in cheese and all seasonings. Set aside bowl in fridge.

Step 2: Slice pancetta into strips.

Step 3: Boil pasta for two on stovetop.

Step 4: Brown garlic with olive oil in sauté pan over low heat. (“This is a natural aphrodisiac,” Owens says.)

Step 5: While boiling pasta, add pancetta in sauté pan on stovetop until slightly crispy.

Step 6: When pasta is ready (al dente is preferred), strain and quickly place pasta in bowl over egg mixture while steaming, stirring eggs throughout pasta.

Step 7: Finish by adding pancetta pan contents over pasta; then top with some more cheese.

“I like to serve in a nice big pasta bowl and scoop out. The true flavor in this dish is that salty meat and rich cheesy flavor that is a true comfort food,” Owens says.

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Roasted Scottish Salmon with Avocado, Radish, and Grapefruit

Director of Operations Demetri Tsolakis, Cafeteria  (279a Newbury Street, Boston, 617.536.2233)

“Any guy can wow a girl with this,” Tsolakis says.

2 six-ounce, center-cut pieces of Scottish salmon

1 ripe avocado

2 radishes

1 small head of your choice of baby lettuce (bibb works very well)

1 ruby red grapefruit

1 lemon

Leaves from 2 sprigs of cilantro (optional)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil

Salt & black pepper

Step 1: Heat heavy-bottom saute pan (no smaller than 10 inches) on high heat. Test heat by sprinkling a drop or two of water in pan; the water should bead and slide around the pan.

Step 2: Turn heat down to medium and add grapeseed oil.

Step 3: Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper and add flesh side down.

Step 4: Cook for 3 minutes and flip; lower heat and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Step 5: While salmon is cooking, cut avocado in half, north to south; remove pit and use a spoon to scoop out large chunks of the flesh. Set these aside in a bowl.

Step 6: Remove skin and white pith of the grapefruit. Next, cut in between the white sections, placing your knife as close to the white membrane as possible and slicing to the core. If you follow the membrane, you’ll see that you’re cutting out wedges; add to the bowl with avocado, and squeeze juice out of remaining “core.”

Step 7: Slice radish thin, about 1/8 of an inch, and add to bowl.

Step 8: Add lettuce and cilantro to the bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Divide salad between two plates.

Step 9: Turn heat off salmon, squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon over fish, and place on plate next to salad.

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Seared Garlicky Lamb Loin Chops with Mint Salsa Verde

Executive Chef Michael Scelfo, Russell House Tavern (14 JFK Street, Cambridge, 617.500.3055)

Lamb:

2 lamb loin chops per person (around 8-10 ounces apiece)

4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of two lemons

3 tablespoons of finely chopped rosemary

Step 1: Combine garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and rosemary.

Step 2: Rub all over lamb chops.

Step 3: Set aside.

Mint Salsa Verde:

2 large handfuls of mint leaves

1 bunch of Italian parsley

1 large handful of basil

6 white anchovy filets

2 tablespoons of capers

2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

1 slice of bread, crusts removed, torn up

1/2 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

Step 1: Combine all the herbs in a food processor with the anchovies, capers, garlic, bread, honey, vinegar, and some freshly ground black pepper.

Step 2: Pulse until finely chopped, while pausing to scrape down the sides.

Step 3: With the motor running, trickle in enough of the olive oil to give a thick and creamy consistency.

Step 4: Taste and adjust the seasoning: the anchovies and capers should make it salty enough, so only add extra salt if it really needs it.

Step 5: Spoon the sauce into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap pressed right onto the salsa, and keep cool until needed.

Back to the Lamb:

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 400.

Step 2: Over a high flame, heat a pan so it is very hot; then add a few tablespoons of oil.

Step 3: Season the lamb with salt and pepper to your liking and sear it for 3 minutes per side.

Step 4: Transfer the pan to the oven and let it continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Step 5: Take the lamb out and rest it on a plate for 5 minutes. Top with a little salsa verde and put the remaining salsa in a bowl with a spoon to serve on the side.

Step 6: Serve this with a nice crusty loaf of bread and a bottle of good red wine for a great meal.

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Profiterole for Two

Executive Chef Eric Bogardus, Petit Robert Central (101 Arch Street, Boston, 617.737.1777)

Profiterole:

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

Step 1: Boil water, salt, and butter.

Step 2: Whisk in flour. Reduce flame to low and stir for 2 minutes.

Step 3: Remove from heat and stir in eggs until smooth.

Step 4: Pre-heat oven to 400.

Step 5: Spoon your mix into 3 equal portions on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed.

Step 6: Bake for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Sauce:

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

Ice cream

Step 1: Bring heavy cream to a boil; then pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Step 2: Whisk in butter until dissolved.

Step 3: Cut the profiterole in half.

Step 4:  Put a couple of scoops of ice cream in the middle.

Step 5: Ladle the chocolate sauce over it.

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Red Velvet Pancakes

Chef Nicholas Dixon, 94 Mass Ave (94 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, 617.927.4900)

Dry:

2 pounds flour

2 ounces cocoa powder

8 ounces sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

Wet:

5 cups buttermilk

8 eggs

1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon red food coloring

8 ounces melted butter

Step 1: Melt the butter.

Step 2: Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Step 3: Combine all the wet ingredients in another container and whisk.

Step 4: Add your dry ingredients to the wet slowly and whisk until they’re well-combined with no lumps.

Step 5: Cook at 325 degrees.

“If you really want to impress her, stop by a kitchen supply store and pick up little heart-shaped cookie cutters and use them as a mold for the pancakes,” Dixon says.

— Compiled by Renee Trilivas

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