I recently heard that you can now vote for your favorite blog once a day (did you hear that Mom?), so even if you voted for me the first time I asked (begged), apparently you can legally vote again. I won’t bore you again with the details, but if you are new to this blog you can click the link below and read the short, but scintillating, original post explaining this contest. Thanks!!
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Our meat choice, the pork tenderloin, is one of the most user-friendly cuts ever. It requires about 3 minutes of trimming and you’re ready to rock. The sauce is made in the pan after the meat is cooked and the sweet and tangy fruit sauce pairs perfectly with the spicy black pepper crust on the pork. Since most of these tenderloins are pretty standard size at about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds each, 20 minutes at 375F after a good sear in the pan is going to give you a perfect medium almost every time.
By the way, you can use any vinegar and fruit preserve in this recipe and it will be great, although there is something about cherry and black pepper that’s magical. Enjoy!
1 pork tenderloin (not loin)
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup black cherry preserves
salt to taste
lots of cracked black pepper
2 tbl butter
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Watermelon and Feta with Toasted Cashews – Old footage, new narration, watercolor filters, and one really amazing summer salad!
This video recipe was pieced together with footage I shot last year when I was just playing around with my new webcam. I found it and decided to add some new voice-over and show you this great salad. Yes, it’s a bit unusual, but one bite and you will be hooked. You’ll get to see and hear both sleeveless and blurry 2006 Chef John, as well as the new and improved 2007 Chef John. So, here’s the clip, a whole year in the making, as they say. Enjoy!
1 small ripe watermelon
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 cup toasted cashews
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
*optional garnish: some fresh mint or basil
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I've posted this before, but could this Simpsons clip have been the real inspiration for this candy bar?
Monday, August 27, 2007
Today we’re making a very simple warm bacon dressing to go over some pan cooked halibut. With just a few ingredients, and a very simple procedure, we’re going to produce some amazingly delicious results. The smokiness of the bacon is such a great match with the meaty halibut, and the slightly sweet/sour profile of the fresh lemon and rice vinegar brings this all together. Usually at this point I tell you a few ways you can alter the recipe to match your personal tastes…forget that. Make this exactly like I show you. Enjoy!
2 halibut steaks (about 3/4 to 1 inch thick)
1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
4 strips of bacon
fresh parsley to taste (about 1/2 bunch for me)
salt and pepper to taste
* I served this on baby romaine, but any greens would be nice
Saturday, August 25, 2007
So, why show myself now? I have too. I have recently been contracted to do some “professional” cooking videos for several online outlets (to be named later), and as part of the production I must be seen introducing the recipes. Since I knew it would only be a matter of time before one of my blog visitors saw me on one of these other sites and recognized my sultry voice and nimble fingers, I decided to out myself today.
By the way, just because I’m now using my real photo on the blog, the video recipes will not change. I will still never appear in the recipes, mugging for the camera nor doing puppet shows with an oven mitt. I will not deviate from my original vision of what these videos should be about…the food.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Since I ripped Paul McCartney’s cooking skills yesterday I thought I would show him doing something he’s good at. Here’s a video of Paul singing Happy Birthday to my sister.
Chicken Kiev photo credit
Thursday, August 23, 2007
So, instead of me recapping all the ridiculous moments, why don’t you just watch and post a comment as to what were your favorite bits. Here are a few moments I really enjoyed to get you started… the oven mitt puppet show, the “organic” salt reference (when did they start using pesticides on salt?), and the seven times he almost slices his fingers off trying to peel and chop that onion. Hey, Jude, get this guy some Band-Aids!
Just in case you actually want to see how to make perfect mashed potatoes, I’ve included my mashed potato video recipe below. Enjoy!
My Version of the Perfect Mashed Potato
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
We all learned about the French Revolution in school. You remember, “let them eat cake,” and all that stuff. Anyway, there was another French Revolution that started in the 70’s and it had to do with French Cuisine. It was called “Nouvelle” cuisine which is simply French for "new cuisine." This style was a reaction to the classic “Haute” cuisine (meaning "high cooking"). It focused on lighter and more delicate dishes, without heavy flour-based sauces. One of the darlings of this new style was a simple butter sauce called a “beurre blanc” which was a reduction of white wine and vinegar, finished with whole butter. These lighter sauces became all the rage.
The version I’m showing today is the red wine version of the classic beurre blanc. I usually force you to get the procedure by watching the clip (multiple times, I suspect), but just this one time I’ll give you a brief procedure below, so the sauce doesn’t “break” or separate.
A couple of nice steaks
1 minced shallot
1/2 stick butter (2oz)1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
1. Remove steaks from pan and turn off heat.
2. Add shallots with 2 tsp of the butter.
3. On low heat, sauté shallots until lightly browned.
4. Deglaze with vinegar, cook until almost evaporated.
5. Add wine and cook on med-high heat until reduced by half.
6. Turn off heat and whisk in butter, adjust for salt and pepper.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Last week I was named “Associate Food Editor” of SFWeekly.com's daily culture website All Shook Down. I will be sharing posts, photos, and videos from this blog, as well as covering other online foodie news. I’d like to thank the SFWeekly and Village Voice Media for this great opportunity.
For those of you not familiar with the SFWeekly, it’s a great alternative newspaper in San Francisco, and required reading for anyone that wants to know what’s really going on around town. I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship. Hey, does this mean I can now get media credentials for the Press Box at the ball game? I really should do a story on those garlic fries. I’ll have to check on that.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Savory Peach and Mozzarella Fresca Bruschetta on Walnut Bread – Is this the best summer hors d’oeuvre ever?
Here’s my case. You don’t have to turn on the oven. You get to use up those amazingly sweet, middle of summer peaches. Anything served on toasted walnut bread is great. The combination of the sweet fruit, the nutty, crisp bread, the creamy, tangy cheese; all brought together with a drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkling of black pepper and flaky kosher salt is perfection. You just have to try it and then you can be the judge.
They are also very easy to eat in two quick bites, without making a mess, which makes them ideal for that summer patio party. Another advantage is that they can sit out for a while without deteriorating. Now, if you are turned off by the idea of putting salt and black pepper on peaches, you have to get over it. You are missing out on an incredible combination of flavors. Besides, this video recipe is just a warm up for the upcoming Watermelon and Feta salad. Enjoy!
fresh peaches (make sure you are buying “free-stone” peaches!)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Here is a short, and I think inspirational, interview he did on the Big Idea recently. It’s an interesting look behind the man and his show, Good Eats. Enjoy.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The problem was that everyone was trying to do blackened fish, pork, chicken, and steak at home and the results varied greatly. The smart home cooks did this outside on the BBQ and made out OK. Many however tried to simulate this “looks great on TV” dish in the kitchen and the sounds of smoke alarms rang out across the land. If fact, I have a conspiracy theory that Chef Prudhomme was “on the take” from the Smoke Alarm companies. Of course, I can’t prove any of this.
This Chili-Rubbed Pork Chop video recipe is a kinder, gentler version of the “blackened” cooking technique. We start on high heat, but cook the chops on medium, and then finish the cooking by wrapping the chops in foil. This produces a very moist chop, as the meat has time to “rest” as it finishes cooking. Also, when you unwrap the boneless chops, there will be several tablespoons of the most wonderful natural juice (or Jus for our French friends). Almost any spice mix will work with this technique so take this method and make it your own. It was a great combination with the Sweet Corn, Shiitake Mushroom and Arugula Sauté recipe we already posted. Enjoy!
2 boneless center-cut pork chops (about 7oz each, about 1 1/2 inch thick)
1 1/2 tbl vegetable oil
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp all spice
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ancho chili powder
cayenne to taste (optional)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
For my wife Michele and I, this "Cuisine Spontané" approach was applied quite deliciously to a recent picnic lunch we enjoyed in beautiful Dolores Park. It ended up being a two-course meal. The elements were picked up on 24th Street in Noe Valley, on the same walk I wrote about in the Farmers Market post.
The first course was spicy chicken served in heart of romaine lettuce cups with fresh cilantro. We bought a pint container of some wonderful stewed chicken at a small Taqueria. It was falling-apart-tender and cooked with onions and peppers in a light, but fiery, tomato and chili sauce. This location also served as the source for our plastic silverware, napkins, and a small plastic cup of chopped fresh cilantro.
We finished this two-course meal with some ‘fresh out of the oven’ walnut bread, topped with creamy Mozzarella Di Bufala Campana (Italian Buffalo Mozzarella cheese) and slices of perfectly ripe peaches from Farmer's Market. The sweet, juicy, golden peach with the snow-white, slightly tangy cheese, on the dense, nutty bread was truly amazing.
It would have been a great picnic lunch without the view, but eating with the San Francisco skyline as our backdrop just made everything taste that much better.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
There it was, a bag a sweet corn. It had been in there for a while, so I was sure it was freezer-burned and I would just chuck it out and go. Unfortunately, I checked it and it was fine. Damn. I thought I better taste it; it’s probably not sweet. It was really sweet. Damn. So I decided to be a good, frugal Chef and use it for this recipe. The good news for you is this was so delicious with frozen corn, I can only imagine how incredible it’s going to be with freshly shucked corn!
I had this combo as a side vegetable recently and found it a very interesting combination of flavors. The earthy mushrooms, sweet corn, and slightly bitter Arugula mixed wonderfully together. In fact, as I enjoyed it with some grilled chicken, I kept smelling and tasting truffles. There was something about these three ingredients that combined to produce a truffle like flavor profile. Maybe my molecular gastronomy friends can explain why this was.
I realize that shiitake and truffles are both fungi, but it was more than that. In any case, it was really good, and I’m sure you are going to enjoy this simple and tasty vegetable dish. You vegetarians can add vegetable stock instead of chicken of course. On the other end of the spectrum, you omnivores may want to think about starting this with a little bit of bacon, before adding the mushrooms. Either way, enjoy!
2 cups fresh corn
2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
large handful of arugula
1 clove garlic
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
On a sunny Saturday, in the middle of the day, in the middle of summer, in the middle of the City, I stumbled upon a Farmers Market I didn’t even know existed. My wife and I were taking a walk to a neighborhood called “Noe Valley,” for some picnic supplies. This ‘hood is known for it’s great shopping; a long stretch of small, funky shops selling all things edible and otherwise.
About halfway through our expedition I saw a modest collection of tents and booths set up in a small parking lot. As we entered the lot, I realized we were standing in a Farmers Market full of the most colorful and delicious looking fruits and vegetables I had seen all summer.
Now, I’ve been to the large downtown Farmers Markets in San Francisco hundreds of times and, always to my disappointment, have never remembered to bring my camera. So, that I happen to be carrying my camera on this particular walk, and would accidentally find this unknown-to-me market, seemed very ironic. Am I using “ironic” correctly here? I hate when people use ironic in the wrong context. Did I just do that? Someone will let me know I’m sure.
Anyway, the light was perfect, the tables were piled high, and I snapped away (in between sampling copious amounts of perfectly ripe stone fruit), getting what I think were some pretty good pictures you see throughout this post.
The peaches were perfect. The speckled red and black plums from Santa Rosa were amazing in both color and taste. The flowering basil screamed at me to make pesto. The seedless Thompson grapes, warmed by the sun called me over for a few samples as the vendor looked on wondering if I was going buy any. Next time, I promise. A serpent’s nest of heirloom cucumbers sat next to a basket of Roma tomatoes so bright they were practically glowing. I made a mental note to buy some Feta. And, no Farmer’s Market would be complete without the obligatory toy box of mixed sweet peppers.
The only photo here that wasn’t part of the market is the “just a scrumptious as it looks” fig bread. This was from the Noe Valley Bakery a few blocks away. I’ve been buying this fig bread for over a decade, always serving it with a ripe Cambazola cheese and fresh strawberries. And with that last shot, I put away the camera, and we headed toward our picnic in Dolores Park. Thank you San Francisco. After all these years you still manage to surprise and seduce me in the most unexpected and wonderful ways.
Monday, August 13, 2007
In this video recipe I used one of my favorite condiments, Romesco sauce, which is a spicy Spanish roasted red pepper and almond pesto type mixture. You may have seen me use this in a delicious stuffed summer squash recipe a while back. But, as you’ll hear me say in the clip, this can be done with almost anything; salad dressings like balsamic or lemon pepper, almost any aioli or mayo based sauce, any style bbq sauce, even pesto or olive tapenade will work. Since salmon goes so well with so many flavor profiles you have lots of options. The only thing to be careful with would be something that has a very high sugar content, which may burn before the salmon is cooked, since we are broiling the fish. If you do use something like a honey mustard dressing, you may want to cook it a little further away from the heat.
After watching this recipe, please, go out and buy some wild salmon (frozen is fine!) and go hunting in the back of your fridge. I would love to read your comments on what you found and used and how it came out. Enjoy!
2 six ounce salmon filets
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbl of romesco sauce, or “whatever”
*broil under high heat for 6-10 minutes until sauce is glazed on and salmon is cooked
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007
whole pork tenderloin (not loin)
3-4 rosemary sprigs
Black pepper and salt to taste
2 fresh peaches
2 tbl butter
2 tbl aged balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
slice of toast to garnish
Note: If you are using fresh peaches make sure you get the "freestone" variety, not the "clingstone.” For more info on the difference, click this link to wikipedia.
Friday, August 10, 2007
As you’ve heard me say in many clips and posts, the main reason people don’t cook at home is the prep work required. While most people enjoy cooking, they just don’t enjoy all the slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing. So, I try to compose these recipes so that they require the least amount of work possible. This one is a good example; except for chopping an onion and a few cloves of garlic, you are pretty much just stirring a few times, and listening to this tasty chili simmer away.
Feel free to make this same recipe using beef (ground chuck being the best choice). But, I’ve been using ground turkey in my chili for a while now, and enjoy it almost as much as the higher fat beef version. I’ve heard Chefs on TV say, “This turkey chili tastes just like one made with beef!” No it doesn’t. Why? Because a turkey isn’t a cow. I know, a shocking revelation! Ground turkey just doesn’t have the same fat content and texture of a nice ground chuck, so we have to do a few tricks to counter this. We’re going to cook it for a long time so that the turkey is as soft and succulent as possible. I also served mine with some beautifully ripe slices of avocado that gives the final bowl another layer of silky richness. By the way, don’t let the cocoa powder in our chili spice mixture throw you off! It’s only a small amount and it really works. Enjoy!
2 1/2 lbs ground turkey
2 cans pinto beans (12oz cans)
1 cup tomato puree
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic
Secret Chili Spice Mix:
1/4 cup ancho chili powder
1 tbl cumin
1 1/2 tsp chipotle
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbl paprika
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
*my chili was garnished with sour cream, diced jalapeno, cilantro and avocado
Thursday, August 9, 2007
This video’s horrible production value (I almost called this post “The Blair Witch Potato”) is more than made up for in that this really is a great recipe and technique. I really love potato gratins, but the thing I don’t enjoy, especially when I’m in a hurry is the slicing and layering. This video recipe shows you a shortcut method to achieve a very similar final product with much less work. You’ll have to watch to see how this is achieved since I don’t want to spoil the suspense and tension of the clip (unlike “Blair Witch” which we all knew was staged, and there weren’t really any ghosts).
You can use any cheese in this dish, of course, but I think a nice sharp cheddar is the way to go. I used a beautiful hunk of English Farmhouse Cheddar and it was great. Especially with the apple and shallot reduction that went over the pork loin I served with these potatoes. Also, I used low fat 1% milk for this dish. I would resist the temptation to use cream in this, as I think it makes it this recipe too rich. Enjoy!
6 russet potatoes
2 cups milk
3 green onions
6 oz. cheddar cheese
4 tbl butter
salt and pepper to taste
*Bake at 400F until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Garlic, Fennel and Orange Grilled Chicken Thighs – When your brain wants Chicken, but your heart wants Italian Sausage
Did it work? Yes and no. The chicken turned out to be very delicious. Anything grilled on a fire, after being marinated in garlic, fennel and orange is going to taste great, so on that level it was a great success. The only problem was it made me crave my Uncle’s sausage even more! By the way, if you’re wondering how I prepped my grill so the skinless chicken wouldn’t stick, go check out the Tandoori Chicken video recipe clip. Also, I like to garnish grilled meat dishes like this with the same fresh herb that I use in its dry form in the marinade. Since there was some dried oregano in the Italian herb mix, I finished my platter with some beautiful flowering oregano. This is just another great reason to plant some herbs, whether it’s in your backyard, rooftop, or windowsill. Enjoy!
10 boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 cloves garlic
1/2 orange, zest and juice
1 1/2 tbl kosher salt
1 tbl dried Italian herb mix (oregano, basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme)
1 tbl sweet paprika
1 tbl black pepper
2 tbl fennel seed
1 tbl olive oil
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
The flank steak had been grilled and was resting, but my work was not over. I had fresh figs to grill before the damp evening claimed my fire. Not just any figs; deep dark purple, perfectly ripe, sweet and juicy Mission figs.
A drip of olive oil moistening their soft skins, on the grill they went. As the heat from the glowing embers began to expand the soft interiors, the surface of the figs tightened and became shiny. Soon small cracks appeared, and the sound of their sweet syrup dripping into the coals told me they were done.
Back inside the steak was sliced thin and scattered atop a tangle of wild arugula. The still warm figs joined the plate, as did a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. A grind of black pepper and pinch of sea salt were the only garnishes needed. We ate in smiling silence as the fog disappeared into the darkness. There is no video record of this extraordinary meal. Some things are better left to the mind’s eye.
Monday, August 6, 2007
Now a special message for all my fans that have electric stoves…I’m Sorry. You can’t do this on an electric burner. You can sort of do it under the electric broiler, but it’s not as easy. You’ll just have to go outside and fire up the old grill. If you’re just doing one or two, you could use your Crème Brulee torch. Or, the next time your visiting your friend with the gas range you can bring along a bag of peppers. I’m sure they won’t mind at all. Finally, if you get my Bobby Flay joke in the middle of this video, then you watch way too much FoodTV. Enjoy!
Sunday, August 5, 2007
The blog has been climbing steadily in rank ever since I first began tracking these statistics a few months ago. Back then, Food Wishes was ranked like 120,000th. At first, I was kind of depressed that after all the hard work I hadn’t even cracked the top hundred thousand blogs. But when I saw that the total number of tracked blogs was an amazing 71 million I felt a lot better, since that put me well within the top 1%. Last week when I checked I had climbed to the 70,000th ranked blog. So, I figured at that rate of ascent it was only a matter of time before I took over the top spot. I just didn’t think I would pass 70,000 blogs in one week.
Well, much to my chagrin, I soon found out that Technorati was doing some type of site maintenance and that every blog in the world was given the top ranking for a few minutes. When they finished their work I saw my real rank; a respectable and still rapidly climbing 60,930. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Friday, August 3, 2007
I’m a Chef, not a TV critic, but how anyone can watch that show is beyond my comprehension. To be clear, I’m not judging you negatively if you are a fan of the show, hey, I was crushed when they cancelled Pirate Master! I’m just saying I can’t watch it, I don’t get it, and I think it may be the worse TV show ever made. OK, back to the fava beans!
This salad is so delicious, so refreshing, so satisfying, and so easy, that you must try it. Yesterday, I showed you how to prep your fava beans for a recipe. Today I show you why all that work was so worthwhile. One key to this very simple combination is letting it chill in the fridge for a few hours to marry all the flavors. You can substitute parsley or basil for the mint, but I beg you to try it with the mint, which is just amazing with these flavors. There is something about the taste of fava beans that the mint really brings out like no other herb. Enjoy, or as I’m sure Flava Flav would say if he tasted this, “Yeah Boyeeeee!”
14 oz jar of butter beans, rinsed and well drained
1 1/2 cup prepped fava beans (see previous demo!)
1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper
2 tbl chopped fresh mint
1 clove garlic
1/2 to 1 lemon
4 tbl olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (this salad will be “flat” if you don’t salt it sufficiently, I used about a teaspoon at least)
*red pepper flakes are also a nice addition if you want more heat.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Yes, as you’ll see, there is a little bit of work involved in preparing these beans for whatever recipe you are planning to use them in, but when you consider how delicious they are, it’s definitely worth the effort. I compared them in the title to Russian Dolls since the part of the bean you eat is actually a seed that is encased in a think skin, which is encased in a large green pod. Once liberated, these Fava beans are an incredible addition to so many dishes. They can be eaten plain, added to pastas, risottos, soups, or in salads, as I use them in the next demo. This clip is really just part one, of a two part video recipe. In the next video I’ll combine them with butter beans, roasted peppers, garlic, lemon and mint to create a cold bean salad so delicious it defies description. So, stay tuned for that. Enjoy!
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
What’s even worse than this guy blatantly stealing my act, is the fact he cuts off the video just as a cat jumps up on the counter and heads for the chicken. What happened next? Is there going to be a sequel? By the way, on the very rare chance Mr. Walken sees this (or his people see it and call my people), I’d like to say I’m just kidding and please don’t hurt me.