Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hollandaise How-To

Hollandaise How-To
Asparagus cloaked with velvety rich Hollandaise sauce.

Easter is on the way and, like all things that need our time an attention, it will be here all too soon. One thing served at many Easter dinners is asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. I'd like to show you how to make this and to assure you that I'm an expert of sorts on this particular sauce. Let me fill you in.

Way back in 1993 I went to culinary school. I knew how to cook already and was fairly good at it, but I wanted to know more. My dream had been to open my own cafe or bed and breakfast and I wanted a good solid foundation for the many dishes I imagined myself serving up.

I did quite well, if I do say so myself, and even excelled in a spot or two. Some things made me very nervous, though and I skipped a day here and there in an effort to get out of the practical end of my grade for a few classes. Fish cleaning was one. I stayed home only to find that I still had to clean a huge red snapper the next day. My fears weren't without warrant; I stabbed a thumb with a fish bone and it was literally sore for weeks. See? I should have skipped that entire section.

I also was scared beyond belief to make Hollandaise. It was drilled into our heads that there was a very real risk of our sauce breaking if we were to even breathe the wrong way. It wasn't likely that we would succeed ... etc. etc. Who in their right mind would show up on that day? Surely not me.

Lo and behold, my professor was sharper than that and reminded me the next day that I still had to do the practical for Hollandaise. I went ahead and held my breath, beating egg yolks with cayenne pepper and lemon juice. I slowly, slowly poured in the clarified butter. It was perfect. I was shocked, but thrilled that I had not only passed, but exceeded my own expectations.

Once the rest of the class caught on to the fact that I made it without a problem, they started asking me to make it for them. They would sidle over to me on the line during the weeks we had the restaurant to run and whisper, "Can you make my Hollandaise for me?" I was naive enough to comply and I'm certain part of the reason I developed carpal tunnel syndrome was nudged along by my Hollandaise making days.

I still make it, but only for special occasions, and I know there are recipes for the blender and also those using whole butter (and sauce from packets - gasp!), but I still like to pull out my typed recipe (I didn't have a computer in those days) and get to it.

Here is the recipe; use it as you wish on Asparagus or roast beef or, my favorite way, in Eggs Benedict.

Making Clarified Butter
Three sticks of salted butter.

Making Clarified Butter
Skimming the foam from the top.

Making Clarified Butter
Foam skimmed and milk solids on the bottom.

Making Clarified Butter
Clarified butter ready to use.

Hollandaise How-To
Three egg yolks with lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

Hollandaise How-To
Egg yolks beaten to the correct consistency.

Hollandaise How-To
The perfect velvety smooth sauce.

Hollandaise How-To
My original typed recipe from 1993. Note the grease stain on the bottom right - no doubt from clarified butter 

Hollandaise Sauce
Makes 1 pint


3 sticks salted butter - 12 ounces
3 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice from 1/2  a lemon - about 2 teaspoons
Clarified butter from 3 sticks - about 10 ounces
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt


1. Heat a small saucepan of water over medium heat to simmering.
2. Place egg yolks, lemon juice and cayenne in a non-reactive metal bowl and set over water.
3. Beat egg yolks until smooth and lemon yellow. Keep them moving so they do not cook.
4. Pour in clarified butter very slowly and in a very thin stream. Keep whisking the yolks and incorporating the butter in a constant motion.
5. Once all butter has been whisked in the sauce should coat the back of a spoon or leave ribbon impressions as the whisk moves through it.
6. Whisk in salt and serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Anne's Meatballs

Anne's Italian Meatballs
Anne's Meatballs

When I first began making meatballs many years ago I made them as my mom did - meat, bread, milk, egg, salt and pepper and possibly nutmeg for flavoring. So-so at best but good in their own right.

Several years ago I stumbled across a recipe for Italian meatballs and I haven't gone back to the old way since. Rich in flavors and tender to the bite, these are the ones I make again and again to rave reviews at home.
Anne's Meatballs
Meatballs (upper right corner) as part of a simple Italian meal.

Anne's Meatballs
Printable Recipe
Makes 6 large, 12 medium or 24 mini

1 pound ground beef, 80/20 is best
2 slices white bread, crust removed  - preferably Italian - crumbed (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese - not the canned kind, the real stuff!
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt

Combine all and mix just until blended - don't over mix or the meat will become tough - use gentle hands here.

Shape as desired and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes (turning once) or pan fry until juices run clear. Alternatively brown them on each side and then finish in your favorite tomato sauce (this is the way I like the most!) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Irish Country Cooking from The Irish Countrywomen's Association

When I was first asked if I'd like to take a look at and possibly review the cookbook, Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today's Table from The Irish Countrywomen's Association, there's was no way I'd say no. I mean ... Irish. Country. Cooking. Was there any question this wouldn't be a book I'd love?

With a huge portion of my own ancestry being Irish, I'm always, always interested to know more about the country, customs and especially, the food and cooking. When the book first arrived I knew it was a winner. Just look at the cover of this beauty:

It's something I know I'd pick up off the shelf of any local bookstore and sit to read cover to cover. It's what I do with cookbooks ... each is read like a novel from front to back. This one is no different. I read it through and chose recipes I wanted to make immediately.

What makes this Irish cookbook so different is the diversity. It's not all corned beef and cabbage (in fact, it's not even in there), but rather a collection of recipes from all over the world including real Irish cuisine, each with it's own special Irish touch.

Did you ever think you'd see Pasta with Tomato and Vodka Sauce, Hungarian Beef Ghoulash, Parisian Potatoes or Salsa Roja in an Irish cookbook? Neither did I, but they're in there with a whole host of unexpected delights offered up by the members of The Irish Countrywomen's Association. Each recipe lists the member who created it with a one-line bio giving you a tiny glimpse of the differences and beauty of each woman in the association.

The photos are sublime in this book. I found myself wanting to dive into the page and eat my way through, or simply to visit the kitchen or dining space the photo was taken in. The images do such wonderful and delicious justice to the food that I had to share that sentiment with the photographer, Joanne Murphy.

All together, the stories, the recipes and the photographs make this book an instant favorite of mine that I'm certain I'll turn to again and again over the years. I'm also certain it will be passed down in my family and last a very long and beautiful life.

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, here are two traditional recipes from the book that are just perfection.

Lickeen Colcannon from Claire Ann McDonnell.
Photograph by Joanne Murphy, styling by Orla Neligan

Lickeen Colcannon
Claire Ann McDonnell, Wicklow: Loves gardening and the country air

This is my original take on traditional colcannon, and was such a winning combination of leftovers that I make it regularly. It’s very popular and very tasty.   

Makes 6 individual servings 

• 675g (1½lb) potatoes, peeled and quartered 
• 450g (1lb) green cabbage, shredded 
• 50g (2oz) butter 
• 1 small onion, finely chopped 
• salt and freshly ground black pepper 
• 2–3 tablespoons grated Cheddar cheese 

to serve 
• 6 streaky rashers (optional) 

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4. 
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and simmer the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. In another pot of boiling water, simmer the shredded cabbage for 10 minutes and drain well. 
3. Drain the potatoes once cooked, and mash well with butter. Add the cabbage and onion and season to taste. 
4. Divide between six ovenproof ramekin dishes. Lightly score the top of each so it crisps up nicely and sprinkle over grated cheese. Transfer to preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes until it is golden. 
5. Meanwhile preheat a grill to hot and cook the streaky rashers until crispy. Cut each in half and serve the individual ramekins garnished with two half slices each.

Dublin Coddle by Maureen Butler
Photograph by Joanne Murphy, styling by Orla Neligan

Dublin Coddle 
Maureen Butler, Meath: Bridge-playing mother of four

As a child growing up in Dublin, we always had this served to us at the end
of the week when all that was left were rashers, sausages and potatoes.
Everything was put into the one pot and cooked. It was delicious,
particularly on a cold winter’s day.

Serves 6 

• 2kg (4½lb) potatoes, peeled 
• 500ml (1 pint) boiled water 
• 1 ham, chicken or beef stock cube (optional) 
• 450g (1lb) good quality pork sausages 
• 450g (1lb) piece thick-cut bacon 
• 2 large onions, sliced 
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 
• salt and coarse ground pepper to serve 
• fresh soda bread ICA Tip Pork sausages are best bought from a local butcher. 

1. Preheat oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas 2. 
2. Cut any larger potatoes into three or four pieces, leaving smaller ones whole so that they will cook evenly. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiled water, if using. 
3. Grill the sausages and bacon long enough to colour them but taking care not to dry them out. Drain on paper towels and chop the bacon into 2½cm (1in) pieces. You can chop the sausages into bite-sized pieces, though some prefer to leave them whole. 
4. In a large ovenproof casserole dish with a tight lid, layer the onions, bacon, sausages and potatoes, seasoning each layer liberally with pepper and parsley. Continue until the ingredients are used up and pour the hot water or bouillon mixture over the top. 
5. On the stove, bring the liquid to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and cover the pot. You may like to put a layer of foil underneath the pot lid to help seal it. 
6. Place the covered pot in preheated oven and cook for at least three hours (up to four or five hours will not hurt it). After two hours, check liquid levels and add more water if necessary. There should be about an inch of liquid at the bottom of the pot at all times.
7. Serve hot with fresh soda bread to mop up the lovely gravy. 

You can find your own copy of Irish Country Cooking: More Than 100 Recipes for Today's Table from The Irish Countrywomen's Association at

Please do take a look and "Like" The Irish Countrywomen's Association Facebook page (I did!) and also check out the website: Irish Countrywomen's Association

Monday, March 03, 2014

Yuengling Traditional Lager Bacon Barbecue Sauce

Yuengling is not a name that's new to Pennsylvanians, in fact, Yuengling has been brewing up fine lagers and ales here since 1829. The newest product to carry the Yuengling family name, and rightfully so, is Yuengling Traditional Lager Bacon Barbecue Sauce.

My oldest son at 14 years of age is already a barbecue sauce buff and he gave this his seal of approval in a big way. This tangy, smoky and savory sauce is the perfect complement to burgers, chicken and pulled pork. Here's our burger topped with the sauce and below is the press release. If you live near any one of the supermarkets this is carried at (see bottom of the release) you must get there and try a bottle for yourself. You won't be disappointed and you may wind up falling in love. After all, there's "bacon" in the name!

Yuengling Traditional Lager Bacon Barbecue Sauce
Yuengling Traditional Lager Bacon Barbecue Sauce

All-N-Food and Yuengling Add Savory Bacon-Flavored Barbecue Sauce to Expanding Line of Beer-Infused Creations

Former A-B Execs and America’s Oldest Brewery Deliver the Sizzle in New Sauce

            POTTSVILLE, PA, (January 31, 2014) – All-N-Food, LLC, creator of six tasty wing and barbecue sauces infused with a variety of Yuengling beer styles, launches the latest addition – Yuengling Traditional Lager Bacon Barbecue Sauce – the company announced today. Combining the smoky sizzle of bacon with the roasted caramel malt of Yuengling Traditional Lager yields a perfectly blended barbecue sauce that ignites flavors for grilling, basting or dipping.  Try the rich and zesty sauce on beef, pork, chicken or even scallops (get the Double Bacon BBQ Scallops recipe here.)

            The partnership between All-N-Food (ANF) and D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. began with the development of three wing sauces and three barbecue sauces that were introduced in southeastern states in early 2013. The two guys behind ANF, marketer Danny R. Scott and chef Brent E. Wertz approached Richard “Dick” Yuengling, fifth-generation owner of America’s oldest brewery, because of their shared dedication to top-quality production, appreciation for great tasting beer and enthusiasm for pairing and cooking with a variety of brews for various occasions.

            “My passion is layering bold, complex flavors and textures and I’d been intrigued for a long time by bringing together bacon and beer – two of America’s favorites – in a barbecue sauce,” said Chef Brent Wertz. “The mouthwatering result is a smokin’ little slice of heaven bursting with zing on the end of your fork, or if savored properly…dripping from your fingertips.”

            Yuengling Traditional Lager Bacon Barbecue Sauce is the seventh ANF brand developed with a Yuengling beer as a key ingredient. The sauce is currently available in 20-ounce bottles at Food Lion supermarkets in Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic States.

            “The wing and original barbecue sauces had a solid launch last year and this latest brand extension is evidence of the strength and growth of the Yuengling partnership,” Scott said. “We are excited about the next few months as we plan other exciting All-N-Food ventures and continue expanding and developing new products.”

            In addition to three barbecue sauces – Yuengling Traditional Lager Barbecue Sauce, Yuengling Hickory Smoked Porter Barbecue Sauce and Yuengling Black & Tan Honey Barbecue Sauce in 20-ounce bottles, there are three wing sauces – Yuengling Light Lager Mild Wing Sauce, Yuengling Medium Lager Wing Sauceand Yuengling Lager Hot Wing Sauce in 13-ounce bottles. These varieties are carried in more than 3,000 grocery stores and retail outlets in 17 Eastern and Mid-Atlantic States from Delaware to Georgia, such as Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Winn Dixie, Weis, Wegman’s and Piggly Wiggly supermarkets. Go to for more information and taste attributes of these brands.

About All-N-Food

All-N-Food, LLC is a trademark licensing company led by Partner/VP of Business Operations Danny R. Scott and Executive Chef Brent E. Wertz, C.E.C.A.A.C., Partner/VP of Culinary & Product Innovation. In 2012, ANF partnered with Pennsylvania-based D.G. Yuengling & Sons, Inc. to craft an extensive line of food products infused with various styles of Yuengling beers. In addition, ANF produces a marinara sauce and “Giuseppe” vodka sauce in partnership with St. Louis-based J.F. Sanfilippo’s restaurants. Both pasta sauce varieties are available in St. Louis-area Dierbergs and Shop ‘n Save® markets.

Danny Scott

Prior to partnering with Wertz to create All-N-Food, Danny Scott built his experience in manufacturing, brand management, marketing and human resources during nearly 20 years at Anheuser-Busch, where he and Wertz were members of the team that led the creation of Budweiser food products, including Budweiser Genuine (wing, basting and barbecue) Sauces and helped develop the first ever Anheuser-Busch cookbook “Great Food Great Beer.”

Brent Wertz

Chef Wertz has been VP of Food and Beverage/ Executive Chef at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA since 2010. He oversees the culinary experience of 14 food and beverage outlets for the 2,000-acre luxury destination, including the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond Lautrec. Wertz was formerly Vice President of Food and Beverage at Kingsmill Resort & Spa and contributed his knowledge of beer recipes as well as food and beer pairing for the Anheuser-Busch “Great Food Great Beer” cookbook.

For more information about All-N-Food, visit and cook along with Chef Wertz’s Double Bacon BBQ Scallops recipe on YouTube. Read about the latest brands and adventures on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @AllNFood

*Product provided free of charge - all opinions and views are my own. This is not a paid endorsement.