Joshua Weissman makes no apologies

Joshua Weissman is a professional chef, turned social media star. Picture: Supplied
Joshua Weissman is a professional chef, turned social media star. Picture: Supplied

Joshua Weissman thinks you should actually start cooking your own food ... you know you want to, and you know it will taste better.

After spending time working professionally in various fine dining restaurants, Weissman built his social media platform of more than 10 million followers by breaking down the barriers of gourmet cooking at home and presenting highly entertaining and educational cooking videos showing viewers how to make their favourites (but better).

He isn't your average culinary genius. He's chef-y, he's eccentric, and he's a lot over-the-top in everything he does - from curating energetic and engaging food entertainment, to constantly developing his massive repertoire of original recipes, to cooking everything (seriously, everything) from scratch. He has an abounding love of food and proper technique.

  • Joshua Weissman: An unapologetic cook, by Joshua Weissman. Alpha, $39.99.

Strawberry shortcake

Strawberry shortcake. Picture: Ralph Smith

Strawberry shortcake. Picture: Ralph Smith

I haven't spent a ton 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 biscuit version, which isn't just easy to make, but it's also the only version that should exist.

Ingredients

450g strawberries, hulled and sliced

50g sugar, divided

15g muscovado or dark brown sugar

small pinch of sea salt

250ml thickened cream

Biscuits:

450g unbleached plain flour, plus more for dusting

55g granulated sugar

21g baking powder

6g fine sea salt

168g unsalted butter, cold, cubed

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 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, 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 okay 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 220C, and line two baking sheets with parchment 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 eight, 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 thickened cream and remaining 12g granulated 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.

Cacio e pepe

Cacio e pepe. Picture: Ralph Smith

Cacio e pepe. Picture: Ralph Smith

Yet another 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 flavors 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

248g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more to serve

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 one minute for fresh pasta and seven minutes for dried. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 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 250ml of the reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer, and add the semi-cooked pasta to the saucepan. Let simmer vigorously for three to five minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about 75 percent. (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.

Mojo-braised pulled pork

Mojo-braised pulled pork. Picture: Ralph Smith

Mojo-braised pulled pork. Picture: Ralph Smith

This succulent, flavorful meat is endlessly versatile. It goes well with beans, rice, and vegetables for a classic Cuban-style dinner, or in tacos, on Cubanos, 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

1/2 bunch of mint leaves

5g freshly ground cumin

2 serrano chiles

250ml extra virgin olive oil

27g salt

250ml fresh lime juice or Seville orange juice

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 chiles, olive oil, salt, lime juice, and orange juice. Blend together on high speed until completely smooth. Reserve 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 200C. Remove the pork from the marinade and place in a 6.5 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 31/2 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 2 1/2 litres.

Grilled branzino

Grilled branzino. Picture: Ralph Smith

Grilled branzino. Picture: Ralph Smith

I learned this genius grilling technique for fillets of fish when I worked at Uchiko. Rather than setting it directly on the grates and going into a deep panic when it sticks, you instead use a greased wire rack to easily maneuver the fish around the heat source. This helps the fish maintain contact with the heat until it's browned enough to release. Don't tell anyone I told you this secret. Also, yes, you should be eating the skin.

Ingredients

4g coriander leaves

5g Thai basil leaves

8g mint leaves

26g thinly sliced green onions

55g pickled red onions

flaky sea salt, to serve

chili oil, to drizzle

lime wedges (optional), to serve

Coconut broth:

400ml can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

2 stalks lemongrass, bruised and thinly sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

5cm piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

15ml fish sauce

12g palm sugar or light brown sugar

juice of 1 lime

salt, to taste

Fish:

4 fillets branzino (about 680g total), scaled and skin-on

cooking spray, to coat

salt, to taste

Method

1. Make the coconut broth. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk, lemongrass, shallot, and galangal. Heat over medium heat just until steamy and hot. Turn off the heat, and cover to steep for 12 minutes. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl, and discard the solids. Whisk in the fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Keep the broth hot in the saucepan.

2. In a small bowl, toss together the coriander, Thai basil, mint, green onion, and pickled red onions. Cover with a lightly damp paper towel, and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Heat one side of the grill to medium-high, and keep the other side completely off. Let the grill preheat with the lid closed for 10 minutes.

4. Generously spray a grill-safe, 20 x 25cm wire rack with cooking spray. Prepare the fish. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels, and spray the skin lightly with cooking spray. Season both sides of each fillet with salt to taste. Place the fillets skin-side down on the wire rack. (You can usually fit one or two fillets on one wire rack, so cook them in batches or with one additional wire rack as needed.)

5. Once the grill is hot, place the wire rack with the fish directly over the hot side of the grill. Let the fish grill for about three minutes, checking the skin intermittently, until the skin is completely crisp and lightly charred and you can see the fish is cooked about halfway up the flesh. Using a thin spatula, carefully flip the fish. Cook skin-side up, until the fish is JUST barely cooked through, another 30 to 60 seconds. In the event the fish is cooking too quickly, shift the rack toward the cold side of the grill. Once cooked, remove from the grill and let rest on a cutting board, uncovered and skin-side up, while you cook any remaining batches.

6. For serving, add about 1.25cm of hot broth to four small, deep plates or very shallow serving bowls. Gently lay the fish flesh-side down into the broth. Top the fish with the herb mixture and flaky salt. Finish with a drizzle of chili oil. Enjoy with lime wedges on the side (if using).

Serves 4.

Joshua Weissman: An unapologetic cook, by Joshua Weissman. Alpha, $39.99.

Joshua Weissman: An unapologetic cook, by Joshua Weissman. Alpha, $39.99.

This story No apologies here - just great food first appeared on The Canberra Times.