Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sweet Child O' Brine II

This week on the Rouxde Cooking School Podcast we talked about salt. It's the most important ingredient in the kitchen as far as I'm concerned and it's transformative properties make it easy to see why it was used for centuries by apothecaries, witches and warlocks as a main ingredient in their wares.

We have covered brine before but this one is different.

Yes, there is more than one recipe for brine. They can go from fairly complicated (like the holiday brine to very simple (this one).

This recipe will be considerably less complicated and as basic as you can get. It will also change your life. Yeah....... I said it!

This basic brine will make you the Acme of your friends meat cooking masters.

While this brine will make it easier to put color on whatever chop or thigh you are cooking, be sure to constantly flip your food. The sugar in the brine mix makes it easy to burn  the food. Be careful and flip the meat as much as you can. Flipping the meat more than you think helps to keep the meat from

Like I said this is a basic brine. If you want to get more complicated, you can add things like  sage, thyme, rosemary, onions, celery, cinnamon, bay leaf and other spices, fruits or vegetables to steer your meat into the flavor profile you need to match your recipe.

Ready for a crazy simple recipe? Let's do it dear reader!!!

Rouxde Cooking School Simple Brine

1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar

In an extra large container to hold a gallon of fluid, place ingredients together in the bowl and whisk or stir until items dissolved together into a clear liquid.


Yup, that's it. Dead simple right?

you're now ready to use it for chicken, pork or vegetables (yes veggies, it's basic pickling).


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Crosby's Bird's Nest Breakfast

John Houser III
This week on the Rouxde Cooking School Podcast we took a crack at eggs (see what I did there?) and I talked about how I make a dish for my son Crosby called a "Birds nest". I also said I would post the recipe. Well dear reader, here we are.

The podcast episode link can be found here: Liquid Chicken
I came up with this idea (I'm sure I'm not the first) when Crosby was first starting to eat real solid food (not cereal mush) and thought this was a cute idea.

It kept him interested with the novelty of the food, and it also kept me interested with making something fun instead of a making a bowl of Cheerios.

It turned out to be a household favorite that Cros, my wife and I all love to eat. It's basically a more involved version of soft boiled egg and soldiers, a special comfort breakfast my mom made a few times for me when I was young. I loved it every time.

I use whole wheat multi-grain bread because my wife cares about how my kid eats. If it were up to me it would be whatever good crusty bread we had on hand. You can use whatever you want. Yes...... plain ass white bread is fine but lets work on getting you off that shit later.

I usually cut the bread to look like the picture about but I have cut them super thing to really look like a nest. It's up to how playful you want to be. The above pic was literally one of Crosby's breakfasts and we were in "get ready for school mode".

As for the butter in this dish, try to use the good European stuff. There aren't many ingredients in this recipe and it makes a difference. If you don't have the good stuff don't hang yourself, just use regular butter (I do most of the time).

Luckily, this recipe is super easy to make. The problem though is the peeling.......

I fucking hate peeling eggs. Especially soft boiled eggs.

I had a shit time peeling the eggs for the photo above (which is why it's broken). The problem was I forgot a trick I learned about egg peeling.

If you add a teaspoon of baking powder to the pot before you cook the eggs it changes the pH of the water and somehow affects the peelability of the egg. It works better than not doing it at all.

So my friends, let's do this!

Crosby's Bird's Nest

1 slice of bread
1 soft boiled egg *see below for cooking instructions
butter- get the good stuff for your first time
Maldon salt- if you don't have this use kosher or table salt
freshly ground pepper- it makes a big difference

• Heat your soft boiled egg up by pouring the hottest tap hot water you have into a big container (I use a plastic quart Chinese take out container) and place the egg into it. Let it sit in the water until you are ready to assemble.

• place your bread into a toaster or toaster oven. Toast until your preference. I prefer mine a little blackened in spots, but for Crosby I toast it until it gets a bare brown on it so it is a bit easier to eat for a child.

• Once your toast is done, spread butter over it to your enjoyment and then cut it into strips long way and then into thirds cross-way to make your branches. Place onto a plate in a circular pattern.

•Peel your egg. Place on top of the bread branches and then top the egg with Maldon salt and pepper.

• For a kid- Let them break the egg open and then chop the egg up and mix thoroughly so egg and bread and with each other. serve to a happy child.

• For an adult- Cut your own shit up and eat it before it gets cold fool!!!


* For soft boiled eggs:

6 eggs (or more if you want)
a pot to hold six or more eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda

• Set a timer for 5 minutes and 20 seconds

• Place enough water to cover eggs by at least an inch into a pot big enough to hold at least six eggs

• Drop a teaspoon of baking soda into the water

• Bring the pot of water to a vigorous boil

• Add the eggs

• Boil for 5 minutes and 20 seconds

• Transfer to a bowl of ice water

• After five minutes, dry the eggs off and refrigerated until needed

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rouxde Onion Soup

Last week's episode of The Rouxde Cooking School Podcast, Knife to Know You, saw us covering knives. It was a fun time and I said that I would put up a recipe that would get people to practice their knife skills.

Well, here it is.

It took a little time because I wanted to make sure I had the recipe dialed in to where I was happy with it but I have successfully tested it on humans and they liked it (providing they weren't lying of course).

Baltimore got a few inches of snow and ice the other day and we all had the day off. After a few hours of hanging out on a hill sledding with the kids I invited a bunch of friends over to the house to test out the soup.

This recipe easily fed six adults and four children with enough left over for seconds a few times over.

So lets get to it.

Rouxde Cooking School Onion Soup

4 red onions- thinly sliced
4 white onions- thinly sliced
2 yellow onions- thinly sliced
1/4 cup canola oil plus extra for rubbing on the bagutte
1 baguette- sliced into 1 inch thick rounds
 12 cups of chicken stock
2 tablespoons chicken base (optional, but worth it- I use better than broth)
2 tablespoons shiro miso (optional but makes a big difference)
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
1 cup apple cider
1 pound cheddar (mild melts better)- shredded
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh finely ground black pepper

Halved Onions
©2017 John Houser III
©2017 John Houser III
 • Heat your oven to °375F.

• Rub both sides of your baguette slices with canola oil. Put them onto a sheet pan and bake in the oven until golden brown.
©2017 John Houser III
• In the largest pot you have over high heat, add the 1/4 cup of canola oil and heat until smoking. Add the onions and cover. Let cook for five minutes and then begin stirring them. Be sure to keep the heat high and to stir them every few minutes to keep from burning. DO NOT ADD SALT!! cooking onions for 45-60 minutes to develop a good brown color. You don't want them darkly caramelized, but a nice medium brown is good.

• While the onions cook, bring the stock, chicken base, miso, bay leaves, thyme and salt & pepper to a simmer over high heat. Turn the heat to low and keep hot.

• When the onions are looking brown and a little dry, deglaze the pot with the apple cider. Add the stock and simmer the soup for another fifteen minutes.

• Turn the oven onto the broiler setting

• Ladle soup into an oven-proof crock. Top with a couple baguette slices and then the cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted, bubbly and if you're like me, a little burnt.

• Enjoy!!!!
©2017 Leana Houser

Friday, March 3, 2017

Taters GonnaTate

©2017 John Houser III
So episode three is out. You can find it here:


It's a super funny episode (if I may be modest), but it's also very informative and entertaining as well. 

We covered potatoes this week and talked about their history as well as the reason potatoes became popular across Europe and then the USA. 

We hope you like it. If you listen to it, I can't see how you won't. I'm that funny (Bex is terrible as usual). 

At the end of the episode, I talked about the recipe I was going to make and that's why we're here. To learn how to make the following:

Hasselback Potatoes Au Gratin

3 oz Parmesan cheese- finely shredded
5 oz cheddar- finely shredded
1 tablespoons thyme- finely chopped
6 sage leaves- finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic- finely microplaned or finely chopped and mashed into a paste
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg- finely grated
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
3.5 pounds of Russet Potatoes- sliced thinly (1/8 inch thick) on a mandolin or by hand (you're a beast if you do it this way)

• Preheat an oven to 400° F

• Mix the first eleven ingredients in a large bowl until combined.

•Fold in the potatoes and using your hands, make sure every slice is covered with the cream sauce

• Place the potatoes up in an oven-proof pan like dominoes. Regrdless of shape, make sure they are all up and not flat

• Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes

• Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes

• If it is not crispy or brown enough, finish under the broiler until your desired crispness/ color

• Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving

• Enjoy!!

©2017 John Houser III

If you have questions, please feel free to ask me through here or at or at


Friday, February 24, 2017

Say Cheeeeeese............Sauce

I love cheese sauce. It's terribly versatile stuff. I use it mixed with various shapes of pasta for mac and cheese, drizzled over nachos, mixed with canned chilies for queso and sometimes I pour it over French fries in an elegant baptism of velvety bliss.

Now, you can too!!

In our latest episode of the Rouxde Cooking School Podcast we covered the recipe dearest to my heart: Roux.

Roux helps to make myriad deliciously thickened sauces and soups but the one we're gonna concentrate on today is my cheese sauce.

Let's get started shall we dear reader??

First, if you didn't take notes during the podcast (and why the hell weren't you?) here is a link to a piece I wrote previously about roux complete with a recipe:

There, now that you know how to make a roux, lets get started on making this silky cheese sauce. Now be aware before making this. It is a little thinner than most cheese sauces. Why? Because that's how I like my cheese sauce that's why. I find it easier to work with and much better on pasta then the thick goopy shit you get from other recipes. If you try it and don't like the consistency but enjoy the flavor then just add a little more roux to the sauce to thicken to your monstrous desires.

Rouxde Cooking School Cheese Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion- medium dice
1 tablespoon salt1/8 teaspoon (20 turns of a pepper mill) black pepper
4 cloves garlic- sliced
64 ounces (1/2 gallon) whole milk
8 ounces (1 cup) heavy cream
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon hot sauce
8 ounces roux (see above recipe)
16 ounces (1 pound) Extra sharp cheddar cheese- shredded through the big holes on the grater

Whisk Blender (preferably Vitamix)
Large Cast Iron Pot (if you have one)
Large Mixing Bowl

• Heat a large cast iron pot (or whatever large pot you have) over medium heat for at least a minute and then add the olive oil. Let that heat for 30 seconds and then add the onions. Stir the onions until they start to turn translucent and then add the salt, pepper and garlic.

• Add the milk, cream, mustard and hot sauce. Heat until hot but not to a boil (yet).

• Whisk in the roux. The onions will get caught in your whisk. Yes it's a pain in the ass but just give the head of your whisk a shimmy shake right before it gets out of the sauce and everything will clear out.

• Continue to whisk until everything is incorporated.

• Bring the sauce to a boil. Whisk vigorously. Turn the heat down until the sauce is only simmering. Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.

• While whisking, add the cheese a little at a time. Whisk until the melted cheese is incorporated into the sauce. It will be slightly grainy. That's OK, we're about to a put a hurting on this sauce.

• Using a ladle, move half of the cheese sauce into the carafe of a blender. Blend the sauce on high for at least 30 seconds. Transfer blended sauce to a mixing bowl. Blend second half and pour into the mixing bowl. Mix both parts together. Rejoice in the cheese family's reunion

• Serve as you would like. I recommend it on a cheesesteak or on a hot dog. It seriously makes unbelievable Mac and Cheese.

• Wait until cool to pour into a container for the fridge or freezer. It's freezes amazingly well.

So there you have it. I made it sound way more complicated than it should be. Sorry.

Making Cheese Sauce will become your super power. Embrace it and use it recklessly.

If you want to contact us by email, please send your thoughts to here:

We're also here:




If you're looking for the gravy recipe that I mentioned on the podcast, you can find that right here:

Your mashed potatoes will thank you.

Thanks for listening and reading!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sweet Child O' Brine

It's Thanksgiving! The magical time of year that brings out the adventurous cook in everyone. People who mostly survive on ramen and bagel bites get it in their minds that they are going to be tackling a 10 item dinner for 15 people. Needless to say, panic attacks and tears are as much of a part of Thanksgiving as drunk uncles (drunkles if you will).

I'm not going to be able to help you with everything but one area I can help you with is the bird. Many cooks are intimidated by cooking turkeys because of how large and unwieldy the thing is. It's not the kind of thing we tackle on the regular and it can be easy to overcook. This is where brining comes into the picture.

Brining helps to add moisture (for a wet brine) to a turkey and lets it hold onto moisture as it cooks (both wet and dry). It also facilitates the absorption of flavor (aromatics and spices). If you do it properly you'll get a fantastic tasting bird that is almost impossible to overcook.

This brine is special because tastes like the holidays. Cinnamon, orange peel, clove and other spices join forces to flavor a turkey that fits in at the Christmas table as well as a Thanksgiving feast.

This is my holiday turkey wet brine.

Holiday Flavored Wet Brine
1/2 gallon water
1 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbls whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
1-2 cinnamon sticks (depends on how much you want)
2 bay leaves
6 sage leaves
2-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4-6 sprigs thyme
Peel of 1 orange- keep it wide as possible with as little pith as possible (it's OK to have a little)
Peel of 1 lemon- keep it wide as possible with as little pith as possible (it's OK to have a little)
1 onion- chopped into quarters
2 carrots- chopped into 1-2 inch lengths
2 stalks of celery- chopped into 1-2 inch lengths
5 cloves of garlic smashed (no need to peel)
1/2 gallon (64 ounces by weight) of ice

1 12-20 pound turkey- thawed

Combine first 16 ingredients in a big pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. turn off heat. Let cool until it's not steaming hot (about 20 minutes).

Add the ice to cool everything off.

In a clean five gallon bucket, add the turkey and brine. put into fridge and keep for at least 12 hours for smaller birds and as much as 18 hours on the monster birds. If you don't have an extra fridge or a five gallon bucket a big cooler will work just as well (and you can keep it outside out of the way!). I've found that a good, quick way to know brine times is just to do one hour of brining per pound. It's not an exact science, but it gets you where you want to be.

Cook the turkey as you want.

You can also combine the iced brine and turkey into a big cooler and keep it outside overnight. The cooler keeps everything cool overnight.

Have a good Thanksgiving!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Go Nog Go!!!!!!!!

I love eggnog. It is one of my favorite winter drinks. That's right, not just for Christmas but from November until February I'm rocking the nog when the spirits (and there are plenty of spirits) pique my fancy.

It wasn't always this way. When I was younger, eggnog was a detestable drink. Thick, viscous, overly sweet and oddly flavored sludge was what we were served from a waxed cardboard carton every year. At least the adults got to drink that bullshit with a few shots of Seagram's 7 to thin it out and give it some natural flavor. Ahhhh memories.

It was about seven or eight years ago that I started making my own on a whim. I knew that the real stuff had to be worth trying and with no magical eggnog yak around to milk, I was on a mission.

The first batch I made, cobbled together like an alcoholic Frankenstein from various recipes, was a revelation. Real nog was fresh, bright, clean and pleasantly high octane. I was hooked.

Since then I have honed this franken-recipe to be my own while and now I'm here to share it with you wonderful people.

The recipe, as you can see, has been painstakingly preserved for both it's penmanship as well as it's spelling. The Rheb's phone number is a small token of my affection.

By the way; I will be doubling this recipe for our purposes. The double recipe makes a volume that is great to give a bunch away while also having enough to get you good and ready to be merry and bright.

©2014 John Houser III

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mary and Vincent's Bread

©2014 John Houser III
Today is a snowy day in Baltimore and I have the day off. I was making cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for my wife and son when I ran across a recipe in A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price for herb bread that looked intriguing. The original thing that caught my eye was that the bread called for powdered ginger to be mixed in with dough ingredients but that it also called for "powdered chicken stock" (AKA chicken bouillon) which basically replaces the regular salt with a flavored salt. 

I was so enamored with the recipe that I immediately started on the bread (not to worry, my wife and kid were out playing and wouldn't be back for a while, they got their soup and sandwiches when they came in from the cold).

 I had to adjust the recipe to fit what I had in my pantry because I do not have powdered chicken stock but I do have chicken stock base with is reduced down chicken stock that when mixed with water becomes a descent substitute fro real chicken stock. I unashamedly use the stuff and fuck you for judging me. 

©2014 John Houser III
I also had to figure out a weight for the flour because using "3 cups" of flour will get you a different bread every time. The flour might be packed tighter of looser depending on how hard or light you scoop it so I picked a weight used for the recipe. Luckily for me (and you) it turned out a beautiful product. This way the recipe will be consistent every time it is baked. I also used bread pans that were lined with parchment paper for easier release (instead of greasing them). 

©2014 John Houser III
The resulting bread is a soft and luxurious loaf  that has a tight crumb, is great for sandwiches (I wish I'd have had it for the grilled cheeses) and has a faintly earthy and herb-y scent and flavor. The crust is even and thick with a fantastic crunch. Roast beef or smoked turkey would be perfect for it. 

I only have pictures of the final product because I never had any plans to put this recipe up but it was so damn easy, delicious and lovely that I felt the need to post it up. 

©2014 John Houser III

A slather of soft butter and a sprinkling of  Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper made for a great snack. My son ate three large slices, crust and all (well.... he ate most of the crust). When I dipped the bread, just plainly buttered, into a big bowl of chili I wondered why I ever used cornbread. 


The recipe is after the jump. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strawberry fields for about an hour

© 2013 John Houser III
We picked strawberries yesterday at Lohr's Orchard yesterday and pulled in a pretty size able haul. 11.5 pounds when all was said and done and it looks like a lot of berries in the picture but after washing them off they seemed to have multiplied like wet mogwai. These are a few of the phone pics I took. The "good" pics (from my camera) I'm going to save for the strawberry recipes to follow in the next few days. Requests?


© 2013 John Houser III

©2013 John Houser III