Friday, April 27, 2007

We’re off to Sonoma! See you on Tuesday.

My wife and I are off to Sonoma for a few days (see previous Dry Creek Valley post for details), so you won’t see any new posts until Tuesday. We hope you have a great weekend, and make sure at least one of your meals is cooked at home! Because we’ll be so busy and, and all the good restaurants are fully booked well in advance in the area, we will be having several meals at a local roadside dinner (that shall remain nameless, although as a hint for folks that have traveled these same roads, they use bright pink sugar on the tables!)

By the way, a warning to all you crazed fans, groupies, and paparazzi that are desperate to get a look at the elusive Chef John; I will be traveling with a large security entourage (several have worked Mall security), and will also be in full disguise. So forget about it.

Speaking of roadside eateries, today’s clip is dedicated to those of you that think my food too rich and high-cal. I know I’m not shy with the butter, cream, etc., but wait until you see this Texan culinary masterpiece. Somewhere Homer Simpson is smiling.

Mmmmmmmm….Chicken Fried Bacon

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pork Confit - Part 2: The Quintessential Charcuterie Experience

In Part 1 of this recipe, as I hope you saw, we made a classic brine and soaked our pork for 48 hours to impart flavor and moisture. In part 2, we will slow roast the brined pork and then serve it very simply, as a classic Charcuterie plate.

First a definition for those not familiar with “char-koo-ter-eee” from Wikipedia: “Charcuterie (from either the French chair cuite, cooked meat, or the French cuiseur de chair, cooker of meat) is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as sausage and confit primarily from pork. The practice goes back to ancient times and can involve the chemical preservation of meats; it is also a means of using up various meat scraps. Hams, for instance, whether smoked, air-cured, salted, or treated by chemical means, are examples of charcuterie.”

Since the traditional method for cooking our pork confit would be to cover it completely in duck or pork fat, we’ll have to adapt for the home chef. We’ll wrap our meat in plastic wrap and then foil, and roast it in a slow oven which will get us very close to the product produced by the traditional method. After 4 hours at 275 degrees, pork is left to cool completely. This can only be sliced cold, otherwise it would fall apart, so it should be refrigerated overnight. Then we give it a very classic plating with mustard, cornichons, olives and pickled red onions. Throw in a couple slices of toasted dark bread and you are in Charcuterie heaven.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pork Confit - Part 1: A Fine Brine for Swine

Well, as you may have read in another post a few days ago, I’m getting ready to leave for Sonoma for the Dry Creek Valley “Passport” event. So, as warned, here is another older clip converted from my previous blog. It will be new to most of you and is a classic recipe. In part 1 of this 2 part demo, we will make a “brine” for a pork shoulder which in part 2 we will then “confit.” If you saw our duck confit clips you already know that confit means to cook meat for a very long time, at a low temperature in its own fat and juices. For this pork version we are going to brine the pork first, for 48 hours, to make it even more succulent.

Brines are getting very common these days. Many restaurants brine those big thick pork chops before they hit the grill to make them extra juicy. If you’ve watched Food TV over the last few weeks you probably saw dozens of turkeys getting a dunk. There are thousands of brine recipes, but they usually all contain salt, sugar and some types of spices. The brine you’ll see me prepare here is a fairly standard mix, and a great all-purpose version. Remember, your brine will only be as good as the spices you use in it, so use fresh, top-quality varieties.

By the way, the cut of pork we are using is a pork shoulder, which is more commonly called a pork “butt” in the meat market. Why would they call a shoulder a butt? Well, let me take you back to colonial New England. Back then the upper class preferred the more tender cuts like the loin, which is found along the back (top) of the pig (that’s where the expression “high on the hog” comes from). The lower classes were left with the tougher, “lower,” cuts like shanks and shoulders. These cheaper cuts were packed and shipped in barrels called “butts.” Eventually the pork shoulder became known as a Boston butt, or just plain pork butt. I know…fascinating! With info like this you’ll be a real star at that next cocktail party.

In our next clip, we’ll “confit” the shoulder, and then…well, you’ll just have to watch part 2.

3 lb Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast
1 tsp whole allspice berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
5 whole cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
2 quarts cold water

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spicy Thai-style Steak and Rice Noodle Salad – Hot and Cold, Sweet and Sour, Soft and Crisp; an adventure in culinary contrasts!

This is my favorite Asian-style noodle salad. There are so many different flavors, temperatures and textures mingling together. I love almost any pasta salad with meat, but what I really love about this one is the chewy rice noodles I use as the base. As you’ll see, they don’t really get “cooked,” but simply covered in very hot water for 8 minutes before being drained and rinsed in cold water. You should be able find the rice noodles (sometimes called Rice Sticks) in the Asian section of any large grocery store. They are a perfect contrast to the crisp cold vegetables mixed into them, which is a perfect contrast to the warm savory slices of the spicy steak, which is perfect with the sweet and tangy peanut dressing, and so on. This is just a fun dish to eat.

The beef we’re using for the salad is skirt steak. It’s very flavorful and easy to work with. You’ll find it next to the flank steak in the butcher case. While you’re in the Asian section at the store there’s couple of exotic ingredients we’ll need to pick-up. For both the dressing, and to marinate the steak, we need Shiracha, which is a hot Asian chili sauce. We’ll also use Asian Fish Sauce in the marinade. This is a very common addition to many Southeast-Asian dishes and is well worth finding at the market! By the way, you should still have some fish sauce leftover from the caramel chicken recipe.

1 skirt steak (about a 1 1/4lb)
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp shiracha or other hot sauce
1 tsp red curry powder
2 tbl fish sauce
8 oz. rice noodles
1 bunch mint
2 cups shredded cabbage
3/4 cup grated carrot
peanut dressing to coat, about a cup
chopped peanuts to garnish
lime to garnish

The Peanut dressing I also demo in this post is a very basic version, and doesn’t have lots of additional ingredients since I usually use this as a base for other recipes, as I did here. As Chefs are always telling young cooks, you can always add ingredients, but you can’t take them out. Enjoy!

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 limes, juiced
1 tsp Shiracha
12 drops sesame oil
1 clove garlic

Monday, April 23, 2007

Saffron Rice with Currants and Almonds – Is this a Pilaf? Who cares?

On this busy Monday morning, I didn’t have the time or energy to go surfing around the web gathering extensive info on what makes a rice dish a Pilaf. Early translations of “pilaf” simply refers to rice, or other grains, being cooked in oil and then in stock. As far as I’m concerned, if you put “stuff” in rice (veggies, fruits, nuts, meat, etc.) then you can call it a Pilaf, and keep a straight face. Sometime Pilaf is just a restaurant term used to make the rice sound fancier on the menu. I’ve had “Pilaf” that looked just like plain rice to me. I think most chefs would say the difference is whether the rice is cooked in a stock, or flavored broth, verses plain water…whatever.

I’m calling this “Saffron Rice with Currants and Almonds,” and there nothing anyone can do about it. Now, as I say in the video recipe, this is the very easy, very fast version. In the professional kitchen, a stock would be made with sautéed onions and the saffron, to infuse the maximum amount of color and flavor. In this version I just used my
basic basmati rice technique and after coating the rice with the oil, I just throw everything in at once. It worked. Now, I will admit the professional method described above does make a better product, but many home cooks when faced with the extra steps of dicing onions and infusing stocks, will simply make plain rice and eat thier chicken legs. So, I decided to show a compromised version that should make everyone happy (is that possible?).

If you haven’t seen it, be sure to check out the
Basmati Rice video recipe clip which will make this recipe easier to understand. By the way, there is NO substitute for saffron, so don’t ask. If you can’t find it and/or afford it (warning: its crazy expensive) then just make the recipe without it. If you’re just looking for a nice yellow color you could throw in some turmeric. Enjoy!

2 cups basmati rice
3 cups cold water

2 tbl dried currants
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp salt
1 tbl butter
pinch of saffron
2 tbl olive oil

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mmm..mmmm…mmmm, Rachael Ray

I like Rachael Ray. There, I said it. It’s not her cooking, or her bubbly on-air personality, or her ubiquitous EVOO, or her 30-minutes meals (wow, she made a tuna melt in 30 minutes!). It’s simply the fact that every other “real” Chef in the country hates her. They talk about her like she is somehow ruining the entire culinary landscape like some kind of inedible weed. She doesn’t claim to be a Chef; she’s just a cute, perky home-cook that has fun in the kitchen, cooking simple, easy to make food. So, to these high and mighty, foam-making, agar agar-loving, sous vide-obsessed, micro-green sprinkling “real” Chefs, I say lighten up! Come on, she just made little meatloaves in cup cake tins! Yummmoo!

Now, I have to admit, I don’t watch her 30-minute meals show, or her talk show (is it still on?), but I do watch her “$40 a day” show. Why? For one reason, and one reason only… the sound/noise she makes after taking that first bite of every meal on the show. It goes a little something like this, “mmm…mmmm.” Whether you’re a fan of the show or not, I hope you enjoy this clip I found on Youtube. Mmmmmm, enjoy!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Exotic Pomegranate Chicken – Hey, Nice Legs!

Pomegranate juice makes an excellent marinade for chicken. It’s sweet, tart flavor works really well, especially with the middle-eastern spices you’ll see me add in this demo. I marinated mine overnight for 12 hours, but a full 24 would be even better. The most common requests I get via email are new things to do with chicken and salmon. Everyone realizes that they should be eating more of these “healthier” proteins, but they get bored with the same old, same old. This is a great way to turn those boring BBQ chicken drumsticks into something exciting and delicious.

Almost every grocery store these days carries pomegranate juice. Due to its incredibly high content of anti-oxidants, millions of people are drinking this stuff on a regular basis, which of course is why it’s so expensive. But, here we only need one 16oz. bottle, so it shouldn’t be too hard on the budget.

The spice mixture I describe below its very versatile and I suggest making a big batch and keeping it for future “exotic” recipes I’ll be demonstrating. Also, the saffron rice dish you see these beautiful legs resting upon will be shown in a future video recipe demo. Another neat trick to notice is reducing the marinating liquid down to use as a sauce at the end of the dish. If I roasted the legs in the marinade, they still would have come out nice, but it would have been more of a braised dish, and the drumsticks would not have browned up like I wanted them. Enjoy!

12 chicken drumsticks
16 oz. bottle of pomegranate juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic
NOTE: I added 2/3 of the spice mixture to the chicken when I marinated it, and then used the rest before roasting as you’ll see.

Exotic middle-eastern spice mix:
3 tbl cumin
3 tbl coriander
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbl herb de Provence

Thursday, April 19, 2007

“Passport to Dry Creek Valley” and the Legend of the Squash Bird

My wife and I are in the middle of planning and prepping a huge catering event this next weekend in Sonoma. It’s called “Passport to Dry Creek Valley,” which is an annual event showcasing the wines, and vineyards of the amazingly beautiful Dry Creek Valley (photo from We will be doing the food and wine pairing for our dear friend Bill Frick, at the Frick Winery for the 11th year, and despite all the hard work we always look forward to it.

There are over 58 wineries involved in this event, and over 4,000 wine enthusiasts will be eating and sipping their way through the valley. By the way, if you have a chance, check out the Frick Winery website. Bill produces some of the most delicious wine in the entire state!

Due to the limited time available to film new clips and write articles, you may see me using this next week and a half as an excuse to finish adding the last of the old clips from Youtube and my previous blog to the site. I will have a few new clips to add, but don’t be surprised if you see a clip that you saw on the old blog (especially if you’ve been with me from the start).

Today’s clip is a perfect example. It’s the (mostly) true story about how a young Chef (me!) got his big break and was sent to San Francisco to make squash into birds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Homemade Wonton Crisps

This easy wonton chip would be a perfect garnish for the beautiful Bay Scallop Ceviche I just posted. I normally avoid any in-home deep-frying, but as you’ll see in this clip, these go so fast, and we use such a small amount of oil that it’s actually quite fast and easy. Most grocery stores carry both round and square “wonton wrappers” or, as they are sometimes called, “wonton skins.”

Tuna “Poke” with Avocado and Mango

Since I mentioned Tuna Poke in the Wonton Chip clip above, I thought I better post this recipe that was originally posted on my old blog. This version pairs the silky texture of the fresh tuna, with the sweet, vibrant flavor of mango, and the smooth richness of avocado. It’s dressed very simply with rice vinegar, soy, and lime. We also cut our tuna into a small dice so we can present it molded into small ramekins. This is simple to make, and a great, light, first course to any dinner.

If you chill in the ramekins for an hour as we suggest the tuna will still be basically raw. This is how the dish is intended to be eaten. However, if you are not able to eat raw tuna (come on, give it a try!!) then leave them in the fridge for 2-3 more hours and the acids in the dressing will “cook” the fish. This is exactly the same process as a Ceviche.

1 lb. Ahi tuna steak
1/2 ripe mango
1/2 avocado
1 tbl minced ginger
1/2 lime
1 tsp chili paste or hot sauce
2 tbl seasoned rice vinegar
1 tbl soy sauce

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bay Scallop and Mango Ceviche – We’re “Cooking” with Acid!

Most culinary scholars, myself included, credit Peru with giving us ceviche. Although, there are many, very similar recipes all around the Pacific Rim. In fact, I’ve done a Tuna Poke clip which is really the same thing. Basically what happens with ceviche is the protein in the scallops (or any fish for that matter) is “cooked” with the acid in the marinade. Lemons, limes and other acidic ingredients can be combined in countless ways according to your tastes, but the chemical process is the same. So, yes, you are technically eating “raw” seafood (sushi anyone?) but it’s not really “raw.” The acid causes the proteins in the scallops to become what’s called “denatured.” What is “denatured?” This sounds like a job for Wikipedia!

Here is the official Wikipedia definition (which means it could be completely wrong): “Denaturation is the alteration of a protein shape through some form of external stress (for example, by applying heat, acid or alkali), in such a way that it will no longer be able to carry out its cellular function. Denatured proteins can exhibit a wide range of characteristics, from loss of solubility to communal aggregation.” Aren’t you glad I cleared that up? Bottom line; it looks great, it tastes great, you can do a million different combinations, …and you cook stuff without heat! As Rachael Ray would say, “How cool is that?” Enjoy!

2 lbs Bay scallops (or other diced fish in similar size pieces)
1 ripe mango
1 red bell pepper
1 jalepeno
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/3 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp schezchan pepper
1/2 tbl cumin
*Note: since I used seasoned rice vinegar (which has salt in it) I didn’t add any to the recipe. You, of course, will taste and adjust. Also, many ceviche recipes call for diced onions which I don’t like since I feel they tend to over-power the seafood.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pan-seared Spring Asparagus with Lemon, Balsamic and Parmesan – “Foiled” Again!

It’s spring, when a young man's thoughts turn to two things; the other one is cooking delicious fresh asparagus! This is an easy method for cooking this delicious spring veggie, and NO we are NOT going to blanch them first. Why the all caps? Well, Day 1 of vegetable cookery in most old school Culinary Academies begins with a lecture on how and why to blanch vegetables. It’s boiling salted water, cook until tender-crisp, “shock” in ice water…or die. Those old-time Chefs really do love to boil vegetables before using them in various recipes. Now, I’m not saying to never do this. For many things like green beans it’s a great idea. But, I’m saying don’t always do it for every fresh vegetable – especially beautiful spring asparagus.

What you’re about to see in this video recipe is closer to what you’d get if you grilled raw asparagus and then drizzled over a nice lemon, balsamic dressing. But, we’re not grilling. We are simply going to pan-sear the raw spears in a VERY hot pan until they just start to get tender. Then, we’ll wrap them up tight in foil with our dressing, and wait for 5 minutes as the residual heat finishes the cooking process, and the asparagus is completely “favorized” (I’m trying to invent new words so I can get one in the dictionary like that Stephen Colbert – “truthiness?” Are you kidding me?).

There is a magical moment of doneness for asparagus; if undercooked they are bitter, if overcooked they are soft and fibrous, but if cooked until just tender…they are sweet and absolutely sensuous. Did I just say asparagus was sensuous? It must be spring. Enjoy!

*Note: I say near the end of the clip, when the asparagus is wrapped in the foil, to “toss” them half way through. What I meant was just to turn over the foil package after a few minutes, so the dressing get re-distributed. Don’t open the foil and mix them or you’ll lose the heat. This note will make was more sense if you’ve seen the clip!

1 bunch trimmed and washed asparagus
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
shaved Parmesan cheese to top

Got the Monday Blues? Cheer Up…I’m Making Brussel Sprouts!

Why am I showing this classic fall/winter vegetable (that everyone hates, btw) in spring? Good question…It’s yet another clip that I just converted from the old blog and want archived here for your viewing pleasure. Besides, since it is Monday I thought I could slip this one in early before the “real” clip appears later. I’ll be posting a brand new spring Asparagus recipe that’s so simple and delicious it will make you forget all about Brussel Sprouts, and what you did, or did not do, this weekend.

All kidding aside, these are really delicious Brussel Sprouts…believe it or not. As you'll see, the secret is the super fast cooking time and the slicing method. Seriously, this could be your new favorite veggie. Like most people I hated Brussel Sprouts, until I had them prepared in the style you are about to watch in the video. This preparation is so different than any other recipe I’ve seen for these tiny green cabbages, that I really hope you’ll give it a try – when and if you get some Brussel Sprouts. Anyway, enjoy, and stay tuned for another “fresh” clip later.


12 Brussel Sprouts, sliced very thin
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp butter
1/2 lemon,juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Saturday, April 14, 2007

All Killer, No Filler…A Few Fun Foodie Clips to Hold You until Monday

It’s the weekend, and as you know by now I don’t post any original material on my “days off.” And by “day off” I mean 14 hours of answering emails, and comments, and questions like, “do you have a tasty Vegan recipe for Philly Cheese Steak??” But I do like to post some type of fun, food-related stuff I’ve found during the week. Here are two clips I think you’ll enjoy.

The first is a rather creative food themed “beat box” mix that I thought was well done. Now, even if you don’t like Hip Hop, who doesn’t enjoy seeing an Englishman in a really bad wig? What exactly is it with all the cross-dressing over there? The second clip is another interest of mine, magic tricks, especially ones using food. This is quite the trick and if you know how it was done PLEASE tell me!! By the way, the first clip is dedicated to my cousin Tony Q, and my sister-in-law Jennifer M, and the second clip is dedicated my nephew Alex M. They'll know why. Enjoy!

The Beat Box Chef

Magic Produce

Friday, April 13, 2007

Croque Monsieur… King of the open-face sandwich!

Easier to make than pronounce (croak-mon-sir), this is world’s most famous open-face sandwich. According to my French sandwich sources (Wikipedia) the name is based on the verb croquer, "to bite hungrily," and the word monsieur which means "mister." So, I guess this basically translates to “bite hungrily Mister!” And if you make this delicious open-faced delight you’ll know why. By the way, I’m sure it’s the same if you’re a Madame or Mademoiselle.

There are many versions, but mine is slices of the round, crusty French bread (pain au levain) topped with our cheesy,home-made thyme béchamel (left-over from our cheese soufflé recipe video), covered with ham, tomato and cheese, and then baked golden brown. How do you say “to die for” in French? I stole this version from a French bakery here in San Francisco called Tartine, which has lines of people out the door waiting for these beauties to come out of the oven. Bon Appetite!!

4 thick slices of bread
1/2 cup of cheesy Bechamel
8 slices tomato
salt and pepper to taste
thinnly sliced smoked ham
grated cheese of your choice
olive oil

The Slanted Door’s Caramel Chicken

A loyal viewer of this blog informed me that this recipe still had not been converted from my old blog. This was one of the first clips I ever filmed and posted on YouTube, and probably the recipe I’ve received the most email regarding. People LOVE this dish, and while you may have to go out and hunt down some Asian Fish Sauce, it will be well worth the trouble. By the way, there is also a Basmati Rice demo posted in case you need a little help in that department.

The Slanted Door is a very popular Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco. It’s always packed with locals, tourists and visiting celebrities. One of the most popular dishes there is called “Caramel Chicken.” This stunning dish is an amazing combination of sweet, spicy, and salty flavors all sticking to succulent pieces of chicken. My version adds peanuts for a little crunch, and I’ve simplified the technique so you can easily make this at home, right on the stove top. Their version is cooked in a clay pot, which most of us don’t have lying around.

By the way, it’s been reported that this is Mick Jagger’s favorite dish when visiting San Francisco. Mick once asked, “Brown sugar, how come you taste soooo good?” So it’s fitting that’s what we’ll use to caramelize the chicken as you’ll see in the video. Enjoy!

2.5 pounds chicken thighs (boneless, skinless, about 8-10 thighs)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbl grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
2 jalapeno peppers
1 bunch green onions
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
fresh cilantro to garnish

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How to Make Perfect White Rice

Well, since you are going to be making that Caramel Chicken I recently posted, I thought I better post this rice clip also. Truly, one of life’s simple pleasures, it’s amazing how many requests I’ve received for a rice lesson. People are terrified of cooking rice for some reason, and claim that it never comes out right. They say it’s either a big gluey mess, or crunchy and under-cooked! Well, this method should fix all those problems.

Please try and find “Basmati” rice, which shouldn’t be too hard. Most large chain grocery stores do carry it now, and it’s a really flavorful product. By the way, this method should work with any long grain white rice. And save your, “you should buy a rice cooker” emails! Most people aren’t going to buy one, and it’s really not hard to make great rice using this method.

2 cups basmati rice (or any long grain white rice)
3 cups cold water
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cheese Soufflé – Rising to the Occasion

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Soufflés are easy. Yes, I said it…easy. Especially the cheese soufflé I demo in this video recipe clip. The soufflé is one of those recipes that Chefs like to think only they can do properly. The cliché of the housewife crying over the fallen soufflé has become part of our collective culinary consciousness. Granted, you do have to follow a couple steps properly (which you are about to see in the video), but anyone can do this soufflé; even the novice cook.

The base to this cheese soufflé is our classic Béchamel sauce that has been posted previously. PLEASE note: in this demo I start with a 2 cup batch of Béchamel to which I add my 4oz. of grated cheese. BUT, I only use 1 cup of the cheese-infused Béchamel for this recipe. I saved the rest for a batch of Croque Monsieur that I promise to show you soon (just in case you’ve never heard of a Croque Monsieur, it’s only the greatest open-faced sandwich ever!). Another recipe tip; make sure your eggs are cold. The cold yolks will help cool down the warm cheesy Béchamel, and cold egg whites will whip up much easier. Also, the cooking time given is just a guide. I was using 5 oz ramekins, which gave me 6 soufflés. If you use a different size, you’ll just have to keep an eye on them…and YES, it’s OK to peek in the oven, the soufflé is NOT going to fall from a quick peak. Visually, when they look fully puffed up, they are done. In fact, true soufflé connoisseurs don’t mind it if the center of the soufflé is still a bit runny.

As far as cheese choices, I went with a classic Cave-aged Gruyere (Swiss) cheese and some parmesan. Almost any cheese will work as long as it’s similar in texture to what I used. If you decide to use a softer cheese like Goat cheese, or Brie, then this recipe would have to be adjusted. Try These!! Enjoy.

For the Cheesy Bechamel Sauce Base:
2 cups hot prepared Bechamel sauce (see clip!)
4 oz grated Gruyere Cheese
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

NOTE: WE ARE ONLY USING A CUP OF THIS MIXTURE FOR OUR DEMO BELOW! Save the rest. You’ll be glad you did when you see our Croque Monsieur recipe.

To make the Soufflés:
1 cup of the Cheesy Bechamel Sauce Base described above
4 cold egg yolks
4 cold egg whites
butter to grease ramekins

Parmesan to dust ramekins and top of soufflés
Yeilds: Six Soufflés (5-oz ramekins)

Last note: Since my original Béchamel sauce was perfectly seasoned, I didn’t include any salt or pepper to this soufflé recipe. Of course, adjust to you own tastes.

Old Dutch International 4.5-qt. De La Cuisine Beating Bowl, Copper

Old Dutch International 4.5-qt. De La Cuisine Beating Bowl, Copper

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

12 Second Coleslaw… in 42 seconds!

OK, I’ll admit it, this doesn’t look like a very exciting recipe, but that’s the point. Sure, the photo is boring. I didn’t even bother to Photoshop in some colorful veggies! When most people think of coleslaw they think of that bowl of soggy shredded cabbage sitting at the end of the picnic table. This is a completely different approach. This is fresh shredded cabbage prepared as a fast (12 seconds to add the ingredients, and 30 seconds to mix), crisp, low-cal, low-carb, slightly spicy, and delicious side dish that you should be eating as part of your regular veggie side-dish rotation. Do yourself a favor and find a grocery store in your town that carries the “angel hair” finely shredded cabbage, ready-to-mix in the bag. My 12 second coleslaw in 42 seconds claim only counts if you use the pre-shredded bag. By the way, I have no problem taking an extra 5 minutes and shredding my own cabbage, but I rarely can use a whole head and so I don’t like to buy those giant heads unless I’m making this for a large group.

There are 2 keys to this super-slaw; the very small amount of highly-seasoned dressing (it really doesn’t look like enough but you’ll see that it is), and the fact that I don’t toss the cabbage and the dressing together until I’m ready to eat. As soon as any dressing hits shredded cabbage, water starts to be pulled out of the leaves, which causes most traditionally made coleslaws to go limp and soggy. By mixing just before you eat, you will experience the true essence of fresh coleslaw; sweet, crunchy and refreshing. I served this under a spicy Jerked Chicken (aka Jerky Chicken), and it was perfect!

10 oz. bag of Angel Hair Shredded Cabbage
2 tbl Seasoned Rice Vinegar
2 tbl Thousand Island Dressing
1 tsp hot sauce of your choice
pinch of salt
*I didn’t because I only had 12 seconds, but you can certainly add ANY finely shredded raw vegetables to this coleslaw and yours won’t look as boring as mine.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Jerky Chicken – Because I just can’t call it “Jerked Chicken” and keep a straight face!

The “Jerk” style of cooking comes to us from Jamaica. The term “Jerk” actually comes from the term “Jerky,” which comes from the Spanish “charqui” (Char-key), which is basically meat dried over a slow wood fire. Today “Jerk” doesn’t refer to the cooking method, but the fiery spice mix that is rubbed on the meat before it’s grilled. The key ingredients in this spice mix are Allspice and dried Scotch Bonnet peppers (one of the hottest peppers on earth!). Other common ingredients include Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Thyme. There are countless combinations, so I suggest you buy a high-quality pre-mixed Jerk spice mix (that's what I did – after carefully checking the ingredient list to make sure I was getting the real stuff). If you want to make your own Jerk mixture, you can certainly do a Google search and you’ll have a couple thousand formulas at your disposal.

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. It has just 3 basic ingredients and since the spice mix is so flavorful and intense, we don’t need to add much. Also, please note the trick I show before applying the “wet rub” when I “score” the chicken breast with the knife. This is a great trick for several reasons that I explain in the clip. By the way, I serve this tasty breast over my famous “12 second” coleslaw, which I will demo soon. I also mention garlic-infused oil which I used to sauté the chicken, and I will demo that soon as well. In the meantime, if you don’t have any garlic-infused oil, just add a couple crushed garlic cloves to the marinade.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbl Jerk spice mix (usually allspice and dried Scotch Bonnet peppers, cinnamon, nutmeg, and thyme)
1/2 orange, juiced
salt to taste
garlic oil to sauté
*if you don’t have the garlic oil, just add some fresh garlic to the wet rub and sauté in plain vegetable oil

Friday, April 6, 2007

TGIGF: Thank God it’s Good Friday!

Well, it’s been a hectic week around my kitchen this week, with beginning some private Chef work, and planning/experimenting for my one big catering event I do every year. I will share more on that in another post. But since I didn’t have time to do much filming this week, it gave me a chance to catch up on a few missing clips that had not been transferred from my old blog. Thanks to all my attentive fans who noticed the Beans and Greens clip that I mentioned in the Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns post wasn’t on the site. Same goes for the Bechamel clip. If you ever watch a clip on this site and I mention another clip that goes along with it, but you don’t see it anywhere, PLEASE let me know. Thanks.

I hope you all enjoy your Easter weekend. Whether you’re a Catholic or not, at least there’s going to be lots of chocolate around, so you’ve got that going for you. I remember growing up, trying to figure out the connection between Jesus rising from the dead, and my father hiding hard-boiled eggs in the bushes behind the house.

Stay turned for a whole week of new clips coming up including my attempt at individual Cheese Soufflés (an idiot proof version…btw, that was an inside joke for one of my viewers), Jerky Chicken (not Chicken Jerky), 12 Second Coleslaw (for real), and the “Perfect” Tuna Melt. One last Easter egg hunt tip for you kids; check the mail box, there’s always an egg hidden in the mailbox. Enjoy.
Photo above from Rakka.

I'll leave you with this White House Easter Egg hunt clip. Peggy, this one's for you...

Bean and Greens – Fast, healthy, delicious, and it rhymes!

This “missing” clip went along with the Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns recipe video posted last month. I learned this soulful recipe from my Uncle Bill many years ago, and since that time it’s been one of my “go-to” side dishes. By “go-to” dish, I mean one of those recipes that always works with no matter what I’m serving. It’s also very fast to make and extremely versatile. Like most of my recipes, you can switch around the beans, greens and spices used to create your own versions (then you can show them to your nephew or niece).

One great trend I’ve seen lately in the larger grocery stores is having these dark leafy greens already trimmed, washed, bagged, and ready to use. See, now you have no excuse! There is really nothing packed with as much nutritional goodness as these dark greens, and now you just have to open the bag and cook them. Even a can of soup, brought to a simmer, can be transformed in something wonderful with a handful of these greens.

1 bunch kale or any dark leafy greens
12 oz of white beans
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chicken stock

3 cloves garlic
3 tbl olive oil
salt to taste

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Béchamel Sauce - Let’s Turn This “Mother” Out!

This is the sauce I mentioned in the Broccoli post yesterday, and no, I hadn’t posted it. So here you go. This is one of the five “Mother Sauces.” In traditional culinary training, students first master these mother sauces and then use them to create literally hundreds of variations. Béchamel is the basic “white sauce” and is used in many popular dishes. I’ll admit, this is not the most thrilling lesson ever, but it is an important one as far as building a solid foundation of classic culinary skills.

As far as product recommendations go, make sure you have a decent sauce pan to make this in. Don’t use cheap pans, since they have very thin bottoms and the sauce will scorch. In the clip, I used this 4-qt. Stainless Sauce Pan, and it should work for you too. Also, a Wire Whisk is a must, but you probably have one of those already. Lastly, you’re going to see me grate fresh nutmeg into the sauce. If you’ve never done this, you’ve never really tasted nutmeg! The ground stuff in the grocery stores goes stale very quickly and really loses its flavor.

1 quart milk
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup flour
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
4 springs fresh thyme

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Broccoli Gratin – Why am I staring at you in the check-out line?

Some things just go great together; chips and beer, warm bread and butter, Britney and K-Fed, and of course, Broccoli and Cheddar cheese sauce. As you’ll hear in the video this clip was inspired by watching people in grocery store lines buying tiny, expensive, and poor quality, frozen packages of broccoli and cheese sauce.

I had some left-over Béchamel sauce, so in this clip I’ll show how easy it is to take that humble base sauce and create a wonderful vegetable gratin. In case I wasn’t clear in the clip, turn the heat off the Béchamel as soon as you add the cheese. By the way, if I haven’t already, I’ll add a béchamel demo to the blog in case you’re not familiar with that “mother” sauce.

As far as recommendations go, I’m a HUGE cheese head, not the Green Bay Packer variety, but the delicious English Farmhouse Cheddar kind.

I hope you have a nice cheese shop near you, but if not you can get just about anything you want online these days. Check out, they’re a great resource. I suggest any nice sharp cheddar for this dish, but so many other cheeses would be delicious. And for the top, Parmigiano-Reggiano is great, or even a nice Pecorino Romano.

2 cups Béchamel sauce
24 oz. Broccoli florettes (about 4 heads trimmed)
8 oz Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Seared Wild Halibut on White Bean and Garlic Puree

I feel like I have to apologize any time I post a clip from my old blog, since many of my older viewers have already seen it. But, as stated ad nauseum, I want all the clips I’ve previously filmed to be archived here. Besides, if you watch it again to may see something you didn’t notice the first time you watched it (like how I give the wrong name for the beans I used!). Another reason for the "easy" post today is I have lots of personal business to take care of, as well as beginning my part-time "Chef to the Stars" gig that I mentioned in the Spring Training/Las Vegas post.

Fast and very healthy, this halibut is served on top of a puree of white Italian beans and garlic. This is a great, lower-carb alternative to the more common base of garlic mashed potatoes. Feel free to use ANY fish in this dish, as everything tastes great on top of these white beans!

I’ll also show you how easy it is to make fish steaks into boneless, skinless, fish fillets.

2 Wild Halibut Steaks Or Fillets
1 Jar White Italian Beans (10 Oz)
4 Cloves Garlic
1/2 Bunch Fresh Italian Parsley
4 Tbl Butter
Red Pepper Flakes
Black Pepper
2 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Lemon

Roast Chicken Pan Gravy - Getting to the “Bottom” of Flavor

Yes, more gravy! This clip goes along with the already posted “Ultimate” Roast Chicken recipe clip, but was never posted, so here you go. Don’t think of this as a recipe. Think of this as a basic culinary technique that you can do anytime you’ve roasted meat in a heavy pan.

The ‘bottom” I’m referring to in the headline, is the bottom of the heavy Stainless Steel Lined Copper Frying Pan we used to roast our chicken. As a meat roasts, proteins caramelize on the pan’s bottom, and that sticky brown goodness is the base for any pan gravy. In culinary terms this is called a “fond.”

The procedure is basic. Remove the bird. Pour off the excess fat (mostly the butter we used under the skin) into a small bowl. Add some flour to the pan and mix with the fond. Add just enough of the reserve fat to form a somewhat dry crumbly roux, and toast on low heat for 5 minutes. Add cold stock, or any other liquid, and cook for about ten minutes to finish. That’s it!

I don’t normally strain the gravy, but if you want a “finer” gravy product you need to use a Fine Mesh Strainer.

Pan full of beautiful pan drippings or “fond”
2 tbl flour
Reserved fat/butter from pan
about 2 cups of cold stock or other flavorful liquid
salt and pepper to taste