Ric Orlando's Luscious Lacy Gluten Free Latke recipe

Here they are! The Luscious Latkes featured on BEAT BOOBY FLAY!!! And the WON!!

Potato Latkes, or Ashkenazi style potato pancakes, are a staple in most Jewish American households. So, this Italian chef is going to teach you how to make these amazing latkes! Got a problem with dat? I have had many a latke that has all of the traditional flavors of the classic, but were either too greasy, too rubbery or just flat. Tradition can use some technical assistance sometimes and here is my shot at it.

One of my secrets in grating the potatoes two ways. The classic regular box-grated potatoes give you the creaminess and the French style “mandolined” potatoes add a lacy, crisp component that makes them addictive. Also, check out the tossing technique and the incorporation of the potato liquid…read on cynics…! 

Makes 12 nice-sized latkes

8 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled
1-2 medium onions, peeled
2 tablespoons horseradish
3 eggs
about ¾ cup cornstarch or potato starch as needed (for gluten-free latkes) or matzoh meal
salt and pepper to taste
neutral-flavored, heat-holding vegetable oil like grapeseed, sunflower or safflower oil, or get real and use schmaltz or duck fat for frying (not olive oil) as needed

Take 6 of the potatoes and grate on the coarse side of a box grater or on the grater wheel with the larger holes of a food processor.

Grate the onions the same way.

Mix those potatoes and onions together in a bowl. Now, using a mandolin or by hand, julienne the last two potatoes into thin strips. Add to the previously grated onions-potato mix. Then add the horseradish and season with salt and pepper to taste, leaning a bit towards salty.

In a separate bowl, scramble the eggs and pour over the potato-onion mixture.

Now add the starch of choice. (We use potato starch or cornstarch to keep them gluten free.) Mix well with one hand.

Fill a large heavy skillet one half-inch deep with your cooking oil and bring up to a shimmer. You want your oil hot enough to brown, but not so hot that it cooks too fast. Test for heat by dropping a small drop of the mix in the oil. If it sizzles, it is ready.

Take a handful of mixture, about the size of a small tomato, in your hand. Toss it gently and carefully up and down like you're a pitcher getting ready to pitch. After five or six tosses it will begin to get rounder and rounder. When it is round and tight, place it carefully in the oil. Repeat with a few more, being careful not to crowd the pan.

Allow the latkes to cook on one side, still round, until you notice that they are getting bronze around the edges, about 2-3 minutes. Using a spatula flip each latke and NOW press them down until they are about ½ inch thick. Monitor your heat, making sure the oil is not too hot but hot enough to keep the pan frying going nicely.

When the latkes are fully golden on each side, remove to a cooling sheet. Repeat this process until your mix is used up. They can easily be reheated in a 350 F oven for 5 minutes.
(Caviars, creme fraiche and perfectly shirred egg drizzled with cholula are sold separately! LOL)

Chipotle Apple Sauce

So this is a little twist on basic apple sauce. I was taught very early in my career to make apple sauce simple and plain first, and to spice it later. If you spice it too early, you may end up with overly spiced sauce. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove have no place in potato pancakes. However, a little smokey chipotle heat adds a modern twist. Don’t like heat? Leave it out.

You will need a food mill to make good apple sauce at home.

Makes about 2 cups

6 big sweet apples or about 2 pounds. Think Empires, Macouns, Red Delish….
Sugar or maple syrup if needed
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon or more chipotle chili powder

Wash the apples and try to remove the stems, but do not cut or peel them. Put the apples in a non reactive pot. Cover with water by about one inch. Add a pinch of salt. Cover pot snugly.

Bring to a rolling boil and cook for at least 30 minutes or until the apples begin to collapse and get mushy. Using a slotted spoon, remove in batches to a food mill and process into a bowl. Repeat until you have run all of the pulp through the mill. Discard the cooking liquid.

If the sauce is too thin, return it to the pot and gently cook for a few minutes to cook out some of the water. Taste for sweetness and add sweetener if you choose.

Add the chipotle powder and stir it in well. Cool. Store refrigerated or use a canning process to preserve.

Ric Orlando's Gluten Free Holiday Dessert Recipe... FLAN!

It's Holiday time!
And you need to bring something to the table that is impressive, but simple to make and easy to ack and transfer.  Once this is cold, wrap the dish in foil, and pack a serving platter, a little take out container of whipped cream and diced mangos and you are set. 
When you do the "flip" from the pie tin to the serving platter, you AND your dish will get attention! A good, simple flan is a perfect dessert after an holiday pig out!
This is an easy,  delish recipe that utilizes evaporated milk. Why? Traditionally canned milk was the milk of choice in the island where refrigeration and proper packaging storing was not reliable and when you taste this flan, it will be very apparent that this THE milk to use. 

1 cup cane sugar / split
¼ cup water
2 cups evaporated milk
4 large (local cage free) eggs plus one yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 9 inch pie tin ( glass or ceramic is best)  
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir ½ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in heavy small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes.When it is amber colored, pour into the pie pan and swirl.
Meanwhile heat the evaporated milk in a pot with the other half cup of sugar.
Stir milk and ½ cup sugar in medium saucepan over low heat just until sugar dissolves (milk will be lukewarm). Whisk the eggs and yolk in a large bowl until lemony colored.
When warm but not boiling, slowly whisk the milk-sugar mix into the eggs.
Whisk in vanilla and salt. 
Now pour in your custard.

Set up a water bath big enough to hold your pie pan. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake flans until just set in center, about 50 minutes. It will be lightly golden with hints of brown on top. Remove from water and let stand Chill or until cold. 
 To present and serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the flan to loosen.
Top with a serving plate larger than the circumference of the pie tin and flip to invert!
Serve wedges, drizzled with the caramel that I cooked with, garnish with very lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh tropical fruit.

Tomatoes are Trending at Mohonk Mountain House Hudson Valley Harvest Festival

Tomato Time in the Hud-Val by Ric Orlando!

We just nipped it! Mid-September in the Hudson Valley is when the last of the tomatoes are just about to fade from sight... but we got some! 

Here are my recipes from the Hudson Valley Harvest Weekend at Mohonk Mountain House. I present a veggie specific demo here for this fest every year, and this year, tomatoes it is.

First installment: Tomato Bouillon and Tomato Sorbet!

The bouillon can be eaten a lot of ways:
Try is simply hot, garnished with herbs
Use it as a broth for tortellini or little ravioli, or with orzo or tubetti and Romano cheese
Poach lobster, scallops or shrimp in it (gently!)
Freeze it into ice cubes and drop them in Bloody Marys, martinis, gin-and-tonics, and more.

This is a fabulous way to use up the inexpensive, end-of-season, cracked, ripe canning tomatoes.

Harvest Tomato Bouillon

Since Campbell’s has defined our American concept of tomato soup, I have designed a cleaner and lighter version that captures all of the beautiful essence of harvest tomatoes. You can use really ripe, split, or cracked “canning” tomatoes in this recipe which are available at a discount at most  farmstands. This recipes freezes perfectly, so make plenty while you can!

10-12 really ripe tomatoes (about 3 lbs.), cored but left whole
1/8 cup black peppercorns
2 tsp kosher salt
1 bottle dry, unoaked white wine
24 ounces vegetable or chicken stock (you may substitute low-sodium canned broth)
64 ounces water (that's half a gallon)
1 tablespoon of your herb of choice...thyme, rosemary, savory or tarragon
In a big pot, bring to all ingredients to a rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes and skim, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 45 minutes.

Using the finest strainer lined with cheesecloth, strain into a clean vessel by ladling in a little bouillon at time until most of the liquid has been passed through the strainer. Now put the cooked tomatoes into the strainer,but don’t press down! Just let them drip their remaining nectar into the broth for an hour or so, or as long as overnight. When they're done, strain again.

This bouillon can be served as a hot or cold soup, used for cocktails or as a sauce for lobster, or sweetened and frozen into excellent sorbet!

Tomato Sorbet

It is best to make this in peak harvest season to capture the essence! It is luscious with salads, fish, lobster or made a little sweeter, it makes a really fun dessert complemented by figs, blue cheese, peaches or pound cake.

Makes 2 quarts
4 cups tomato bouillon, chilled
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and peeled
½ cup lemon juice
2 cup sugar
1 ounce vodka

Warm the sugar with 2 cups of the bouillon to dissolve the sugar into a simple syrup. Let cool.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with enough of the bouillon to make a smooth puree. Combine the puree, the lemon juice, the remaining bouillon and the simple syrup. Add the vodka.

You can either process through your home ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions or try this: The No-Machine Method.

Cool the mixture down completely. 
Pour the mixture into a cake pan and put it in the freezer.
Set your oven timer for 1 hour.
When the timer goes off, stir up the slightly slushy mix.
Set the timer for another hour. This time the sorbet should be starting to look much more like a real slushy. Stir it again and set the timer for 45 minutes. The third time remove the contents from the pan and process in a food processor until very smooth and aerated. Return to the pan and allow to freeze completely. 

Tomato pic by Ric Orlando
Tomato sorbet pic courtesy of Canard Inc.

Ric Orlando's Summer BBQ Clams

BBQ Clams on the half shell

After a long Hudson Valley summer day, it's time for dinner on the deck. 'Nuff said.
One of my fave dishes ever is simple BBQ clams on the half shell. They take twice as long to prep as they do to eat but it is worth every second. I have had parties where I am shucking for hours while my guests are slurping up hot, buttery, spicy clams faster than I can cook them!

So here is where to start:
Get some fresh littlenecks. Nothing else will do.
Maine clams? Cheap yes, but they suck.
Cherrystones? Too big.
Go with Rhode Island or Long Island Littlenecks. Trust me.

Shuck them first, just like for clams on the regular-old half shell. (Don't cheat and steam them open or you will not have the same dish!)
Need some shucking help? Instead of me showing you, here is Rich Vallante, Legal Seafood's executive chef doing a quick shucking video.

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

36 Rhode Island Littlenecks
1/4 lb excellent butter
choice of hot sauces

First thing to do is fire up the grill. If you are using gas, it will take about 10 minutes but if you are using charcoal, it may take 20-30 minutes. We need a HOT grill.
While your grill is heating, shuck your clams.

Now here is the easy part. Melt your butter. Any butter will do but excellent butter will make for an excellent clam! If you are using unsalted, add a lil salt to taste.

We've got some tasty butter here in the Northeast!

Now hit each clam with a few drops of hot sauce. I like simple with Louisiana-style sauce for mild BBQ clams, good Caribbean style scotch bonnet sauce for hot, and–of course–sriracha for the masses.
A little dab of the hot sauce will do ya. Don't kill the clams!

Next spoon on the melted butter. Be generous. Fill the shells right up.

Now put the clams on the grill carefully. Try not to spill too much butter.

Let the clams grill until they start to simmer right in the shell like this.

When they are sizzling they are done. The clam will turn slightly opaque and that is when you know they are done (don't over cook them). Drizzle on a little more butter, let cool for a minute, and enjoy like Lizzie and I am here!

Oh, by the way, all of that juice that spills in the serving platter? Sop it up! Drink it! You'll thank me later!

Take It Easy on the Spring Ramps and Fiddleheads

Back in my early days of cheffing–in the mid-late 1980s–there were only a few of us who foraged and bought food from foragers to prepare in our commercial kitchens. We were a colorful club: mostly foreigners, sons and daughters of foreigners, or offbeat chefs like me who read and learned of such treasures in well worn books like Gastronomique, James Beard's American Cookery, Fanny Farmer, Ma Cuisine...

Fast forward 30 years. Now foraging is fashion and every chef worth his cool in every city NEEDS ramps and fiddleheads. So PLEASE abide by these guidelines, or you will be part of wiping them all out!

Don't over harvest. We need this year's plants to make next year's harvest! With ramps, pull no more than 25% of what you find. If you want to use the greens and pink stem, you can clip up to 75%, but always leave a lot behind to propagate. If you are just a buyer and not a forager, ASK YOUR FORAGER if they are harvesting sustainably or raping the woods. Sounds ugly, right? Ramps are getting scarcer due to the trendy demands, but they can be cultivated given the right conditions.  Google that.

Fiddleheads? Clip above the ground and leave half of what you find, or else this will all be just another a chapter in food history...

Please Don't Compare an Indie Craft Restaurant Burger with a Chain Burger

Reality bites: You get what you pay for.

PLEASE stop comparing independent craft restaurants with chain operations. Yes, the word "burger" is the same, but you are getting two very different products.

Here is a little insight.

You pay: $8-10 Burger
Meat: A GMO soy-corn-antibiotic fed, hormone-infected pattie, cooked in transfat laced "mel fry," "Kaola gold" or other GMO fake fat.
Bread: 2-oz bun, looks bigger because it is over proofed and pumped with diabetes-inducing dough conditioners, and of course, flavored with high-fructose corn syrup and plenty of preservatives.
Sides: Lettuce preserved with that sweet-smelling sodium tripolyphosphate (that's called snow white in the biz, keeps vegetables from oxidizing) and a GMO, irradiated Mexican tomato, often delivered pre-sliced by a chlorine sprayed machine in Mexico. Maybe you get a pickle; it will definitely be colored with yellow #5 and swimming in preservatives.
Fries: Frozen fries that are typically at least 30% white flour, cottonseed oil, BHT and other preservatives cooked in high-performance (aka high in transfat) GMO soy-cotton and mystery oil.
Condiments: Ketchup laced with high-fructose corn syrup, sterilized mayo made with cottonseed oil and high-fructose corn syrups, and tons of preservatives. Any other condiments (like BBQ sauce or flavored mayos) are made in a factories somewhere where the labor is cheapest, and are also laced with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and chemical preservatives.
Set-Up: Wasteful, eco-unfriendly paper napkin, sometimes a stupid and wasteful paper placemat.
Fairtrade? Cooked by someone in a dead-end job making $9 an hour who is not being inspired, trained or cultured for potential growth in the industry.
Local Value: NOTHING local is involved with getting you that burger, nothing that helps support the local economy, and there is little or no real nutritional value. Most design, construction and services are contracted nationally, not locally. There is little if no local support for the arts, no local fundraising for the not-for-profit community, and often there is not even support for a little league team.
Drink Options: Chemical-laced corporate beer, big box wines and liquors. Few or no local options. Iced tea from powder. At least there's always water, right?

This dismal list goes on and on...

You pay: $14-$17
Meat: Local/Regional beef from small cooperatives, thoughtfully selected cuts, seasoned with sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bun: Either handmade (which employs an actual baker!) or a carefully chosen, artisan 4-oz bun.
Sides: Local, in-season lettuce (or artisan hydroponic in winter), local tomato in season, housemade pickle or at least the real-deal. Sides are often made from local farmers' market veggies with no chemicals, colors, or preservatives.
Fries: Real potatoes cooked in clean rice bran oil or other real oil, seasoned with kosher or sea salt.
Condiments: Housemade or organic ketchup, housemade mayo (made with local eggs and olive oil), other craft condiments, all made fresh in house.
Set-Up: cloth napkin. Real china, silver.
Fairtrade?: Cooks in indie craft restaurants get on the foodie trajectory. Working for a chef of repute builds a resume for higher-paying and more dynamic opportunities. Also, working in a craft environment is satisfying creatively, culturally and socially.
Local Value: Many aspects of a craft restaurant support local. Choices are made everyday to risk the bottom line in order to support as many local, regional and artisan like-minded crafts people as possible. Also, construction, design, repair and service people are selected locally. There is immense visible local support for the arts, local fundraising for the not-for-profit community, and yes–even support for a little league teams.
Drink Options: High-quality craft and artisan spirits, wine, beer, coffee, and soda, supporting a local industry that is utilizing more local and artisan components. 

This exciting list goes on and on.

Think Farmstand versus Walmart.
You pay for higher quality and higher skill levels.

Please don't compare Ruby Tuesday to guys like us.