Four recipes from Joshua Weissman's new 'unapologetic' cookbook

Symphony of simplicity: Cacio e pepe is essentially just cheese, pepper, salt, and pasta.
Symphony of simplicity: Cacio e pepe is essentially just cheese, pepper, salt, and pasta.  Photo: Ralph Smith Studios

Great cooking does, and should, take time, Texan chef Joshua Weissman believes.

The energetic US social media star, known for cooking everything from scratch, likes to push limits in the kitchen and reveal how to create the building blocks of a delicious meal.

Now Weissman has released a collection of recipes that break down the barriers of gourmet cooking, showing you how to become master of your own kitchen. Here are four dishes to try at home.

Joshua Weissman's new cookbook.
Joshua Weissman's new cookbook. Photo: Supplied

Cacio e pepe

This is an insanely simple pasta dish. Somehow the Italians have figured out the true beauty in simplicity within food. Essentially this is just cheese, pepper, salt, and pasta; and it creates a symphony of simple flavours that make Italian cuisine the king that it is.

INGREDIENTS

  • salt, to season
  • 225g uncooked bucatini or spaghetti
  • 30ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6g freshly cracked coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup (248g) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more to serve
  • ½ cup (118g) freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • freshly shaved black truffle (optional), to garnish

METHOD

  1. Bring a large pot of water seasoned very generously with salt to a boil. (It should be very salty, nearly as salty as the ocean.) Cook the pasta until just under al dente, about 1 minute for fresh pasta and 7 minutes for dried. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 1½ cups (350ml) of the pasta water and drain the pasta. 
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the pepper and toast for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 cup (250ml) of the reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer, and add the semi-cooked pasta to the saucepan. Let simmer vigorously for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about 75 per cent. (Add more of the reserved pasta liquid if the liquid reduces too fast.)
  4. Add the parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano. Using tongs, mix and toss vigorously until all of the cheese is evenly distributed and melted and a creamy sauce has formed. Turn off the heat.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with more freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, and top with freshly shaved black truffle (if using). Enjoy.

Serves 2

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Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weissman (Alpha, $39.99). Photography by DK: Ralph Smith Studios. Recipes by Joshua Weissman. 
Mojo-braised pulled pork
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Serve this pulled pork any way you like. Photo: Ralph Smith Studios

Mojo-braised pulled pork

This succulent, flavourful meat is endlessly versatile. It goes well with beans, rice, and vegetables for a classic Cuban-style dinner, in tacos or just by itself. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2-2.25kg boneless pork shoulder
  • chicken stock, if needed
  • salt, to taste 

Mojo marinade

  • 2 shallots
  • 2 heads garlic, peeled
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • zest of 3 limes
  • 7g oregano leaves
  • ½ bunch of mint leaves
  • 5g freshly ground cumin
  • 2 serrano chillies  
  • 1 cup (250ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 27g salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup (250ml) fresh orange juice

METHOD

  1. Prepare the mojo marinade. In a blender, add the shallots, garlic cloves, orange zest, lime zest, oregano leaves, mint leaves, freshly ground cumin, serrano chillies, olive oil, salt, lime juice and orange juice. Blend together on high speed until completely smooth. Reserve 1 cup (250ml) of the marinade to use for dipping; refrigerate, covered, until needed.
  2. In a large resealable bag, place the pork shoulder, and pour in the remaining mojo marinade to cover the meat. Seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 fan-forced (200 conventional). Remove the pork from the marinade and place in a 6½-litre Dutch oven. Pour in all of the marinade. The marinade should come about halfway up the pot, but if not, add a little bit of chicken stock. 
  4. Braise the pork, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 180C and cook for 3 to 3½ hours, uncovered, turning occasionally to make sure all sides get browned.
  5. Remove the pork from the Dutch oven and place on a cutting board to cool. 
  6. Strain the remaining mojo braising liquid into a small bowl, discarding the solids. 
  7. In a large bowl, using two forks, shred the meat. Toss together using the strained braising liquid to coat the meat to your desired level of fatty goodness. Season to taste with salt. Enjoy in Cubanos, on rice, or in a quesadilla with the reserved marinade for dipping.

Makes 2½ litres

Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weissman (Alpha, $39.99). Photography by DK: Ralph Smith Studios. Recipes by Joshua Weissman. 
Bagel loaf
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Yes, it's a bagel in loaf form. Photo: Ralph Smith Studios

Bagel loaf

It's exactly what it says it is: literally a bagel in the form of a loaf of bread. It's life changing. Use as normal bread or just like you would as a bagel, with some cream cheese and lox.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg
  • 15ml filtered water

Dough

  • 297g filtered water, heated to 32C
  • 23g granulated sugar
  • 10g instant dry yeast
  • 500g unbleached baker's flour, plus more for dusting
  • 6g fine sea salt

Everything seasoning

  • 7g dried garlic flakes
  • 9g dried onion flakes
  • 14g white sesame seeds
  • 9g black sesame seeds
  • 10g poppy seeds
  • 9g flaky sea salt 

METHOD

  1. Start the dough. In a small bowl, stir together the warm water, sugar and yeast. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 10 minutes. The mixture should get lightly foamy and the yeast should dissolve.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Mix the yeast mixture into the flour mixture by hand until all of the flour is hydrated.
  3. Turn the dough onto an unfloured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, or until smooth. To knead, fold the dough in half toward you, pressing down and outward with the heel of your hand. Give the dough a quarter turn and continue folding and pushing with the heel of your hand. Once smooth, place the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Before the dough is done rising, preheat the oven to 170 fan-forced (190C conventional) and grease a 23cm loaf pan. 
  4. While the dough is rising, prepare the everything seasoning. In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Once used, store the leftover seasoning in an airtight container.
  5. Punch down the dough to release the gas, and turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 25cm square, about 1.25cm thick.
  6. Bring a medium pot (at least 25cm) of water to a boil. From the bottom edge of the dough, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Place it in the greased loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the dough from the pan and submerge it into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, flip and boil for 1 more minute.
  8. Carefully transfer the boiled dough back to the loaf pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle with the desired amount of everything seasoning. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then carefully remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Slice and serve. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes 1 x 23cm loaf

Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weissman (Alpha, $39.99). Photography by DK: Ralph Smith Studios. Recipes by Joshua Weissman. 
Strawberry shortcake
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This version of strawberry shortcake is made with American-style biscuits. Photo: Ralph Smith Studios

Strawberry shortcake

I haven't spent a tonne of time making strawberry shortcake, and I've always thought it to be a rather boring dessert. I only knew the commercial version, which is primarily a cake or crumbly bread. That is, until I discovered the American-style biscuit version (similar to British-style scones). It isn't just easy to make, it's also the only version that should exist. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 450g strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 50g granulated sugar, divided
  • 15g muscovado or dark brown sugar
  • small pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup (250ml) heavy whipping cream

Biscuits

  • 3 cups (450g) unbleached plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • ¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
  • 21g baking powder
  • 6g fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup (168g) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  • 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk, cold, plus more for brushing
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • demerara sugar, for sprinkling 

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, 38g granulated sugar, the muscovado sugar, and a pinch of salt. Toss together until evenly combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Prepare the biscuits. In a medium bowl, whisk together the plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture to a food processor, along with the cold cubed butter. Pulse a few times until pea-sized crumbs of butter are formed.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the original bowl, and add the buttermilk, egg yolk, and lemon zest. With a spoon, mix together until it forms a dough.
  4. Turn the dough onto an unfloured surface, and lightly knead just until it comes together. Don't overwork the dough; it's OK if it's a little shaggy.
  5. Roll the dough out into a roughly 25cm-long rectangle. Fold like a letter (into thirds over itself), roll it out lengthwise, and fold like a letter once more. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes. While it's resting, preheat the oven to 220 fan-forced (220C conventional) and line 2 oven trays with baking paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. Dust a surface with flour, and roll out the dough until it's about 1.25cm thick. Using a 9cm biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible, about 8, rerolling the scraps as needed.
  7. Arrange the biscuits on the baking sheets. Brush the tops with buttermilk, and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until beautifully golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the oven, and let cool completely before using.
  8. When ready to assemble, prepare the whipped cream topping. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream and remaining 12g caster sugar with a whisk until moderately stiff peaks form.
  9. To assemble each shortcake, split a biscuit in half. On the bottom half, top with whipped cream and add a spoonful of strawberries with some of their juice on top. Top with the other half of the biscuit. If desired, spoon on more whipped cream and another spoonful of strawberries and their juice. Enjoy.

Makes 8

This is an edited extract from Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weissman (Alpha, $39.99). Photography by DK/Ralph Smith Studios. Recipes by Joshua Weissman. Buy now