Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scenes from California's Real Wine Country

These shots were taken by my Mother-in-law Peggy, who really captured the true essence of an authentic vineyard. If you're ever lucky enough to tour California's wine regions, be sure to get off the beaten paths and experience the look, smell and feel of real, family-run wineries. Sure, you may not get a free refrigerator magnet, like at those giant, soulless, corporate-owned wine factories, but you will be compensated with something even more attractive.

By the way, I'll be back tomorrow with a brand new video recipe! Enjoy!

Below you'll see: Bill Frick, wine maker extraordinaire;
the beautiful vineyards and winery; Bill's son Michael's "seashell car"; Bill's home overlooking the vineyards; the world's second most famous leaning tower; and the last shot is the tasting room where we do all the food. (click to enlarge)











Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Wonderful Wine-Soaked Weekend with Food and Friends at Frick

This weekend's food and wine pairing at the Frick Winery was a smashing success! We served a record 1,200 guests, and had a lot of fun doing it. I'm still catching up on a massive email backup and have some deadlines at About.com to meet, but I hope to do some video recipes of the items soon. For now you have to settle for a quick photo (click to enlarge) and description. By the way, special thanks to Bill, Dallas and the entire Frick family, as well as our incredible kitchen crew; Al, Peggy (this year's MVP), Julie, Merv, and my beautiful and talented wife Michele!

The first item was wild Ahi tuna seared and served rare on a wasabi rice chip. It was topped with a pink ginger dressing and a pinch of seaweed salad. It was probably the most popular bite we served. It was paired with Bill Frick's white wines; a Grenache Blanc, and Viognier.

The second item was ripe Cambazola cheese served on fig bread, with sweet organic strawberries on the side. This is called the "Cinsaut Classic" since we've served it with the Frick Cinsaut wines for the last 12 years! It's a perfect pairing, and while we change the food pairings every year, this bite remains a sweet, salty, and savory constant.

The next bite was a pistachio mortadella on olive bread with shaved grapes. This was paired with the Carignane. This idea was borrowed from Chef Tom Colicchio (head judge of Top Chef). He has a sandwich restaurant in San Francisco called "Wichcraft" and these ingredients made up a sandwich Michele enjoyed last year. The flavors worked so well together, we thought it would make a nice canapé.

Next came a mini-meatball sandwich. Olive oil and spicy tomato sauce were spread on some herbed focaccia, which was topped with a slice of meatball, Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella. A little garlic oil and Italian parsley finished this delicious bite. It was paired with a Merlot, and Frick's new Red/Red, which is a Cabernet/Syrah blend.

And last, but in no way least, was a wild boar sausage skewered with a black mission fig and watercress leaf. It was served on some crushed hazelnuts, and paired with Frick's magnificent Syrah. The sweet dried figs were quickly poached in the Syrah, sugar, and black pepper. This was probably my favorite bite, and a great combination of flavors and textures.

I will hopefully be caught up soon, and back with new videos and other assorted foodie fun. I hope you enjoy the photos and descriptions, and maybe even order some wine from the Frick winery. Cheers!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hello and Goodbye

We're just about ready to leave for Sonoma, so I probably won't be posting until Monday or Tuesday. I will hopefully have some beautiful photos of our menu to show. Below I've reposted the only video I have of an actual Passport appetizer. We've served this one several times and it's a great bite to pair with red wine. Keep it in mind the next time you are entertaining.

This version uses cream cheese, but we've done it using Teleme, and Crescenza (you'll have to Google them unless you are a real cheese head). Anyway, keep an eye on the blog while I'm gone. Enjoy!

The following video was originally included in a post entitled: "Calabrese Lollipops – Antipasto on a stick!"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Getting Ready for Our “Passport to Dry Creek Valley” Spring Break

My wife and I are right in the middle of preparing for a huge catering event this weekend in Sonoma. It’s called “Passport to Dry Creek Valley,” which is an annual event showing off the wines, and vineyards, of the beautiful Dry Creek Valley (photo from visitwineroad.com). We will be doing the food for our dear friend Bill Frick, at the amazing Frick Winery for the 12th straight year. Despite all the planning and prep work, it's a lot of fun and we always look forward to it.

There are over 50 wineries involved in this event, and thousands of 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 California.

Due to the limited time to film clips and write articles, there will probably not be any new videos until after the weekend. I may do a couple posts before I leave, especially if any new About video recipes air, but no promises! This will be the perfect time to review your favorite recipes and make sure you haven't missed any. Don't forget to use the google search box in the side bar to find the ingredients you are interested in. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Asparagus and Chicken Noodle Casserole - It's the Best Jerry, the Best!

The spring sun says, "Use fresh green asparagus," but the chilly breeze says "how about a creamy, comforting casserole?" I say let's have both. This video recipe shows my fairly straightforward approach to the great American casserole. This recipe can be used for almost any combination of protein and vegetable, and the results will be just as delicious.

I'm not usually a big "blancher" of asparagus, preferring to pan-roast or grill it, but in this recipe the quick dip in boiling
water is necessary to lock in that beautiful green color that remains vibrant even after 30 minutes of baking. The other atypical behavior here is the use of canned cream of mushroom soup. I can't ever remember using it to make soup. Why would you, when homemade mushroom soup is so far superior? But, when making a casserole, it seems completely right, if not required.

No matter what kind of casserole you're making, the best part is the crispy top. You Seinfeld fans will, of course, fondly remember the muffin tops, and pudding skins episodes. What about a restaurant that serves only the top of the casserole? Let's see, what should I call it?




Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp flour

3 cups milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup

cayenne and salt to taste
8 oz dry wide egg noodles
2 bunch asparagus
4 cooked chicken breasts

6 oz white cheddar cheese

3/4 cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp olive oil


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Finger Lickin' Spring Chicken - Game Recognize Game Hen

I'm still working on the redesign, but I got tired of looking at that stupid jackhammering Chef clipart, so I took a break to post this photo of a very sexy, and young, spring chicken (is that redundant?).

Also known as "game hen," this tender and sweet bird was marinated in blood orange juice, garlic, chili sauce
and rosemary. It was then grilled over hickory to this gorgeous finish.

Forks and knifes were quickly replaced by fingers, and the fabulous birds were torn limb from limb. God they were good. I promise to film this one next time! Okay, back
to the lab.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Testing, Testing - Do Not Adjust Your Free Video Recipe Blog

As you may have noticed, the formatting of the blog has changed. I am experimenting with different layouts, so you may see some strange and scary formatting on this blog for a few days. Since I have been trying to increase the monetization of the site I had to get rid of the giant green banner at the top as it was taking up too much space. The new layout also takes advantage of the wider screens people are using. Thank you for your patience!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Citronette - A Classic Lemon Dressing Video Recipe as performed by an Over-Emoting Chef

This citronette video recipe was filmed last fall, and was one of the first clips I produced for About.com. It just went live a few days ago, so I'm posting it today with a couple of warnings. When I filmed this, cherry tomatoes were at their peak of sweet deliciousness. They made a fine garnish for my asparagus with lemon dressing. Right now that probably isn't the case.

The other thing I will give you a heads-up about is my presentation. Since this was one of the first video recipes where I had to introduce the topic in front of the camera, I was pretty unsure of myself, and compensated by completely overacting.

It was like Emeril Lagasse had swallowed William Shattner. It's very funny to watch a clip this old, and realize how far I have come in regard to talking in front of a camera. As some of you know, it was a long time before anyone even saw my face. If you remember the old George Clooney bio photo, then you've been visiting this blog for a while. Anyway, the asparagus is piled high this time of year, so make some citronette, and enjoy!Click here for ingredients and transcript

Monday, April 14, 2008

Only 255 Shopping Days Until Christmas

Last December I filmed a gingerbread recipe for About.com. Since it hadn't "gone live," I decided to post a link to the written recipe so you could make this easy holiday treat. I promised to post the video as soon as it went "live," but due to circumstances beyond my control, it never was aired. Well, a few days ago it made it's Internet debut, so here you go. What follows is the original post, now with video. Enjoy!

Old-Fashion Gingerbread - Glue Guns, Repressed Cannibalism, or Delicious Cake?

There are three things people do with gingerbread this time of year. Some people spend about a week making a house out of it. Looking at a gingerbread house is always kind of frustrating, as some of it actually looks edible, but you know it's going to taste like cardboard (which it is probably glued to). Not that you'd ever find out since you can't touch it. What about the child, too young to understand, being traumatized by getting yelled at for eating the shingle off a gingerbread house? The only thing worse is how bad it probably tasted.

Then, there are the gingerbread men. There's something a little disturbing about how much people of all ages enjoy chomping the head off these cookies. We all have that same creepy smile on our faces as we hold the decapitated body and move on to chew off one of the limbs. Sure it tastes good, but it may go deeper than that. That reminds me, I'll have to check out PETA's official stand on Animal Crackers.

Then there is the third, and best, use for this sweet and spicy batter, gingerbread cake! The link below is a very easy, fast and delicious gingerbread cake recipe with lemon glaze. It only takes a few minutes to throw together and it's perfect for your holiday table. This recipe is from a video I did for About.com, that has not gone live yet. As soon as the video is up, I'll post that also, but I wanted you to have this recipe in time for Christmas in case you were still trying to think of a fitting dessert. Enjoy! Click here for Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Glaze Recipe.

Photo (c) by Flickr user terren in Virginia

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Amazing Asparagus Pizza - Figure It Out

This is a picture of last nights dinner (and this mornings breakfast!). It was every bit as good as it looks. I didn't film it, but I have re-posted my pizza dough and white sauce video recipes so you can make this beautiful spring pizza. Keep in mind that these clips are from a while ago, before I got any real equipment, so save the "these videos look like crap" comments...I know they do. By the way, this is called a "white" pizza for obvious reasons, and a very nice break from the typical tomato-based pies.

A few words of instruction:


The pizza dough recipe will make enough for 1 large pan like you see here. In the video, I divide it into 6 small balls for individual pizzas, but you can use it all for this, or adjust to your pan size.

You only need 1 cup of white sauce, but make a whole batch, it's a good thing to have around for broccoli gratins, souffles, or just some mac and cheese.

Here is what I used for this pizza:
1 batch of dough
some cornmeal for the pan
1 pound of asparagus, cut and boiled for 1 minute
1 cup of bechamel (white sauce) to which I added 1/3 cup grated parmesan
4 oz shredded white cheddar
1/3 cup parmesan for the top

I put the cornmeal and dough down. Then the sauce, the asparagus, and topped it with the cheeses. Baked it for 17 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

California Rolling - Sushi for People with Rudispiscisphobia

As promised, here is my video recipe of the ubiquitous California Roll. Thank God (Buddha, in this case), for the user-friendly crab and avocado roll, as it allows those culinary cowards among us to join friends at a sushi bar. Without it they would have to make up some story about a sudden illness in order to avoid the embarrassment of admitting to raw fish phobia. Since I couldn't find the official term for this horrible affliction, I found a Latin-English translation site and have now coined this syndrome, rudispiscisphobia.

I was hoping to also show some raw fish options using the sushi rice, but there was no decent "sushi-grade" fish readily available in my neighborhood. Maybe next time. The faux crab I used in these California rolls is a nice option if your budget (as I very subtly joke about in the clip) does not allow for the real stuff. Just be sure to check the labels and make sure your fake crab is made from real fish. Enjoy!




. .

Rising to the Occasion: Viewer's Photos Rolling In!

Here are a couple of great shots of the dinner roll recipe, as done by two viewers of this blog! If you've made things from the site, send in those photos.

These are from Brian, who writes, "Had some fun making the dinner rolls, thanks for the recipe! They don't look as pretty as the ones submitted, but heres the photo anyway. They came out amazing! I was serving with a vodka sauce baked ziti I made, so at the last 10 minutes of baking I put a small bit of chopped garlic and butter on each roll. Its illegal in most states to not have garlic bread with baked ziti." Well done Brian, and by the way, all dinner rolls are beautiful!



















These are from Slobokan at Bits of Dust. I have it on good authority that they made some killer open-face turkey sandwiches!


















These are from Dan at
danishpv.com.



Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Art of Seduction

I am proud to announce I've just been featured in an interview on the blog, Seduction Meals, run by friend of the site, Terry Dagrosa (pictured below). Her site is dedicated to food, romance, and seducing that special someone with a great, sexy meal. Apparently, without my knowledge, or consent, some people are using my recipes for the purpose of seducing the objects of their affection. Hey, I'm happy to help, just don't forget me at Christmas.

If you get a chance, check out her blog, and the interview where you can read my amazing, but true, story about cooking the ultimate "seduction meal" for my wife. It's a great story, and something to remember the next time you are staying at a Bed and Breakfast that has a fireplace! Enjoy.

Seductive photo © Kirsty Andrews

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Food Fight

This very interesting, and disturbing, bit of animation shows, as the creator explains, "An abridged history of American-centric warfare, from WWII to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict."

I watched it a few times to figure out some of the battles, and then I realized they have a website to explain the combatants and the conflicts. I was surprised at how I had forgotten about some of these wars, and had never heard of a few! There is something very poignant about seeing food used to show these conflicts. The word juxtaposition comes to mind. Hey, I've always wanted to use that word in a sentence!


Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Hangtown Fry - A Gold Rush Classic, and the Perfect Before Execution Snack!

During the California gold rush, legend has it, a miner who had just struck it rich, walked into a restaurant in Placerville (known then as "Hangtown") and demanded the most expensive breakfast possible. The cook fried together the three priciest ingredients at the time; bacon, eggs and fresh oysters. This delicious and decadent breakfast became known as the Hangtown fry, which is the subject of this video recipe.

Another interesting historical angle to this dish was its popularity as a "last meal" request among those unfortunate souls awaiting a walk to the gallows. Since it often took a few days to procure all three of those ingredients, the condemned man could stall his inevitable fate. Maybe is gang could think of a way to bust him out, and he could brag from that point on how his life was saved by a scrambled egg recipe.

By the way, the original recipe had the raw oysters cooked right into the eggs, but this modernized versions places fried oysters on top of the eggs for a more "fancified" plate. Enjoy!
Click here for ingredients and transcript

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dulce de Leche - How a Sweet Mistake by an Argentinean Maid, or a Night Watchman at a Dairy, Produced the World's Most Popular Caramel Sauce

Dulce de leche means "milk candy," and it's basically a thick caramel-like syrup made from slowly cooking milk and sugar. It is extremely popular throughout Latin America, and pound for pound, it's the world's most popular caramel confection.

Legend has it that a maid was making "lechada," a traditional boiled milk and sugar drink, and she forgot all about it. A few hours later she returned to find the pot bubbling with a thick caramel-colored syrup…dulce de leche was born. I'm sorry, but there is nothing worse than a boring "how this recipe was invented legend." Here's my version.

In 1836, an Argentinean dairy caught fire when it was hit with a bolt of lightning, during a terrible thunderstorm. The night watchman, Juan Manuel de Rosas, ran next door to the general store, "Walmartes" to grab a sack of salt, which in those days was commonly used to smother and put out fires. He accidentally grabbed a bag of sugar and began throwing handfuls everywhere. But, he was too late and the fire ended up burning down half the dairy. He panicked, stole a horse, and road out of town, never to be seen again (although rumors circulated that he moved to Peru and opened a shoe store).

When the firemen entered the building they found several pots of sugar-dusted milk that had slowly cooked near the fire. As the pots where being moved to start the clean-up, some of the mixture splashed on someone's hand, was licked off, and dulce de leche was born. Now that's a legend! I hope you try this simple and amazing sauce. Enjoy!