Friday, August 30, 2013

Grilled Kiwi & Chili-Rubbed Beef Short Ribs – Labor Day Cooking Shouldn’t Be a Lot of Work

Labor Day weekend is always a bittersweet holiday. It’s supposed to honor America’s organized labor movement, but really what it mostly celebrates is the end of summer. 

Pretty soon our grills will be covered by huge snow drifts, and the season’s warm breezes will be a distant memory. Well, not for me, as I live in California, but you get the point.

This grilled kiwi and chili-rubbed beef short ribs recipe is specifically designed with that melancholy in mind. The prep is minimal, and the ultra short cooking time means that instead of being stuck in front of a grill, you can actually enjoy more of these last precious summer days.

We tied the world record here for fewest ingredients in a marinade, with one, but thanks to the kiwi’s enzymatic magic, that’s all we need. Unlike some tropical fruit marinades, kiwi doesn’t turn the meat into mush, and provides a nice, slightly sweet and acidic base for our Ancho chili rub. I loved how this came out, and while highly-seasoned, the beefy goodness of the short ribs really came through.

I want to wish all of you a happy and healthy Labor Day weekend. What better way to celebrate organized labor, than by doing the minimum amount of it at your cookout? I hope you give these super simple, but very delicious kiwi and chili-rubbed short ribs a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 pounds Korean-style (aka flanken style) beef short ribs
1 kiwi
For the chili rub:
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Next Up: Kiwi Rubbed Beef Short Ribs

I'm back in San Francisco, and will be posting a new video recipe tomorrow featuring a rather successful experiment involving Korean-style, beef short ribs. Also, my sincerest thanks to all those who sent their thoughts regarding my uncle Bill this week. They were very much appreciated. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pardon the Interuption

I'm back east for my uncle Billy's funeral, and will be away from the blog for a day or two. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who passed along their condolences, and to let you know how much I was touched by the response. Thanks again, and stay tuned!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Old Empty Mayo Jar Dressing Trick – Scrap the Scrape!

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade; but what about when life gives you empty mayonnaise jars? Mayonade? No, of course not. We’re going to make salad dressing instead, and “scrape the scrape.”

I’ll often add a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise when I make a vinaigrette, to help emulsify things, as well as provide a little extra creaminess to the dressing. With that in mind, when I get down to the end of a jar, I don’t scrape, I shake.

I’m posting the ingredients I used below just in case you’re curious, but this post isn’t really about a recipe, but simply a tip for using up the last of that mayo without all that annoying butterknifing. Now, I just need to work on a recipe for using up the last of the dressing clinging to the inside of the jar. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 1 1/2 cups of dressing:
1 empty mayo jar, with at least 1 tbsp of mayo inside
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, thyme, and chives)
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
pinch of Herbes de Provence

View the complete recipe

Saturday, August 24, 2013

In Memoriam: William D’Arduini

My uncle Billy passed away a few days ago. He’d been having health issues over the last few years, but the news still came as a sudden, and very sad shock. He was one of my earliest inspirations for becoming a chef, and as many of you know, we filmed several recipes together over the years from his kitchen in Manchester, NY.

After I left the California Culinary Academy to start Food Wishes, I gave him one of my chef coats, and whenever I’d visit, he’d be wearing that coat, busily cooking away, looking every bit the part. He was a barber and hairstylist by trade, but Uncle Billy could have been a world-class chef. His passion for food, and for life, was boundless. Running up the stairs from his second, basement kitchen, carrying a giant pan of food, smiling broadly, talking loudly, wearing that old, white chef coat, is how I will always remember him.

I can think of no better tribute than to re-post the videos he was involved in below. In the “Homemades” video, you can actually hear Uncle Bill helping me with the narration. Of course, in true Food Wishes style, we only see his hands, but by watching the stylish way he handles the food, it’s very easy to see that he had a special touch.

Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to my Aunt Angela and the rest of the family. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this is for them, but hopefully they can take some comfort in knowing just how much pleasure Uncle Billy brought to those around him. Not only did he feed the party, but he was usually the life of it too. He will be dearly missed.

Rest in peace, Uncle Billy. We loved you, and will continue to love and remember you through all the amazing dishes you so generously shared. I know one thing, the food in heaven just got a lot better. Enjoy.

Homemades - Making Pasta with Uncle Bill (read original post here)

Chicken D’Arduini (read original post here)

Arancini - Italian Rice Balls (read original post here)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Peanut Dipping Sauce – To Serve or Not to Serve with Beef Satay

As promised, here’s the new and improved peanut dipping sauce recipe we just featured in the beef satay video. Of course, now I’m finding out that real beef satay is actually served with a sweet, spicy rice vinegar sauce, but that’s another video, and a rather easy one at that. Stay tuned.

There are no great mysteries here – mix it up, and then taste, taste, and taste. Peanut sauces are like snowflakes, and you really should twist the formula to suit your palette. You can add all kinds of fun stuff like lemongrass, ginger, Thai basil just to name a few. If peanut allergies are a concern, I’ve had this done with almonds, and it’s not bad at all.

One big tip if you make this ahead. It will harden up in the fridge, and you’ll need to get it back to room temp before serving. I usually just microwave for a couple seconds, and it will be back to its gorgeous, shiny, flowing self. I hope you give this delicious all-purpose dipping sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Makes about 1 1/2 cup Peanut Dipping Sauce:
3/4 cup smooth all-natural, pure peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 lime, juiced
sriracha or other hot chili sauce, to taste
1 small can (5.6 oz) coconut milk

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Beef Satay – You Should Warn Your Tongue

Beef satay was the very first Thai food I ever tasted, and it was literally love at first bite. Ah, that sweet, spicy, salty, smoky, and slightly funky bite…I remember it like it was yesterday. 

It helps that I ate this yesterday, but still. If you’ve never had satay before, its lightning bolt of flavor can be a bit of a shock to the system. A recipe for the subtle palate, this is not. By the way, I do know that satay was actually invented in Indonesia, but for the purposes of this blog post, we're going with that it's Thai.

This will work on just about any meat, but beef is my favorite. There’s something about beef and these particular spices that just sings. Also, the magic that Asian fish sauce always adds is never more apparent than with beef, especially if that beef destined for the charcoal grill. The same goes for the lemongrass.

If you look around the produce aisle at your town’s best (meaning most expensive) grocery store, you should find some lemongrass stalks. They also sell tubes of pure lemongrass paste online, in case that’s a better option. Some say you can get away with some lime and/or lemon zest and juice, but at least attempt to find some for your old friend, Chef John.

With grilling season still in full swing, you can never have enough new and exciting ways to enjoy beef, and this is certainly at least one of those things. And of course, stay tuned for the peanut dipping sauce recipe next. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

2 lbs beef top sirloin steak, sliced thin across grain, about 1/8-inch thick
Satay Marinade:
1 tbsp grated ginger
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp minced onion
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 rounded tbsp minced lemongrass

View the complete recipe

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Happy National Hot and Spicy Food Day Eve!

That’s right, as almost nobody knows, tomorrow is National Hot and Spicy Food Day, not to be confused with International Hot and Spicy Food Day, which is, of course, on January 16th. Don’t even get me started on the time I bought the wrong cocktail napkins after getting the days mixed up. So embarrassing.

Anyway, in honor of this very special day that somehow food bloggers and media outlets know is August 19, I’m re-posting this spicy sausage ragu recipe. This crowd-pleaser is so easy, so tasty, and a perfect way to celebrate this made-up holiday. Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Focaccia – Surprisingly, Not Italian for “Fingers”

Some younger foodwishers may not realize this, but there was a time, before the Internet, when not everyone knew everything about everything. These days, if you’re wondering what “focaccia” means, you Google it, and all is revealed. In case you’re wondering, it comes from the Latin word for “hearth,” but that’s not what pre-Wikipedia Chef John thought.

Nope, I figured focaccia meant, “fingers.” Since the signature characteristic of the bread is the deeply dimpled surface, and those holes are created using well-oiled fingers, it made perfect sense. Plus, fingers starts with an “f,” as does focaccia, which reinforced my brilliant theory. Anyway, now we know.

This is such a fun and versatile bread to make. I went with a simple, but classic rosemary and sea salt topping, but a web search for focaccia will turn up more than just the definition. You'll see dozens of different and delicious toppings with which to accessorize your slab.

A few of my favorites would be chopped olives, caramelized onions, and sliced grapes. You can add pretty much anything to the top when you do the old finger poke, and proceed as demonstrated. Of course, depending on your garnishes, you may have to cook it a little longer, but I’m sure you’ll figure that out. No matter how you customize it, I hope you give this classic flat bread a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 large portions:

– Combine:
1 package (.25 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 F.)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup semolina flour
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
2 3/4 cups *bread flour (don’t mix in all the flour in this step; reserve about 1/4 cup for the kneading)
*As with all dough recipes, you may need a little less or little more flour. The total weight I added was about 12 oz.
*This will work with just all-purpose flour, but I prefer the bread flour and semolina

– Mix in bowl until a sticky dough forms, then knead with reserved flour and 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil, for about 7-8 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic, but slightly sticky dough.

– Let rise until doubled, flatten on oiled pan, let rest 15 minutes, drizzle with olive oil, poke dough with finger tips, let rise 45 minutes or until doubled, brush lightly with olive oil, top with more rosemary and sea salt.

– Bake at 475 degrees F. for 14-15 minutes

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cutting Tips To Avoid Cutting Tips – Plus Bonus “Creamed” Corn Recipe!

While the grilled salmon with bacon and corn relish recipe we posted Monday was extremely well received, some viewers had a problem with my extremely dangerous and difficult to perform method for shaving the corn off the cob.

So, just in case you’re one of these people who prefer your culinary techniques not to be dangerous or difficult, I’m posting this alternative method. Sure it’s just as fast, just as easy, and way safer, but you do have to admit, my style was way more exciting.

Anyway, since I had freshly cut corn at my heavily-scared fingertips, I decided to show you my new favorite recipe for creamed corn. This lower-cal take on the classic side dish features Greek yogurt and a little Indian spice, and I was absolutely thrilled with how it came out. 

The flavor was great, and the tangy yogurt gave the dish such an interesting texture. I couldn’t stop eating it. So, if you’re looking for another easy, and relatively healthy way to enjoy fresh, sweet corn, I hope you give this a try soon. Just be safe, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 large ears sweet corn
2 tsp olive oil
salt to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
cayenne to taste
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt (or more if you want it creamier)
2 tsp freshly sliced chives

View the complete recipe

Monday, August 12, 2013

Grilled Salmon with Warm Bacon and Corn Relish – It's a Noun and a Verb

This grilled salmon with warm bacon and corn relish is another installment in our long-running series, “Salmon Recipes for People Tired of Salmon Recipes.” No one eats as much salmon as I do, and so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to make it seem a tad more exciting.

In the business, this is known as “elevating” it, and as you may already know, nothing elevates like bacon. It’s the helium of smoked meats. Combine that bacon with sweet, almost raw corn, and you have a relish worthy of its verb. I mean, if your not going to relish your relish, what's the point?

I mention in the video that I like the taste and texture of white corn, but prefer the sunnier appearance of yellow corn. That trade-off is always an interesting discussion, with some saying taste always trumps looks, while others will insist that the appearance effects how the flavor is perceived, so even if slightly less sweet, the golden colored one may be enjoyed more.

Like most food-related arguments, both sides are right and wrong, and I tend to oscillate between the two schools, although when in doubt, I’ll generally lean toward taste. Anyway, no matter which color corn you use, you’re sure to enjoy this new, and hopefully slightly more exciting way to serve salmon. Give it a try soon, and enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Portions:
2 center-cut, boneless salmon filets (8-oz)
salt and pepper to taste
For the relish:
corn kernels from 2 ears of sweet corn, plus any juices
6 stripes bacon, sliced
1/4 cup green onions, white and light parts (reserve green for garnish)
1/4 cup diced red pepper
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
2 tsp olive oil (optional depending on how much bacon fat you had)
1 or 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or other vinegar, or acid like lemon, lime, etc)
*I didn’t have any in the garden, but a little fresh tarragon is great in this too.

View the complete recipe

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sausage & Shrimp Paella – Before You Run, You Walk, Or In This Case, Crawl

When I first do a version of a classic dish like paella, I try to use a minimum of number of ingredients and steps so we focus on the technique. So, while you experienced paella makers will probably find this quite unremarkable, it really is intended for the first-timer. 

Real paella is not baked, but cooked on top of a fire, which results in a similarly textured rice to what you see here, except a layer caramelizes onto the bottom of the pan, and those gloriously crunchy bits are considered the best part. So, basically I’m telling you we left out the best part.

The trade-off is that this method eliminates most of the finesse and monitoring required by the traditional method. Consider this a gateway paella, and the first step to a serious, lifelong addiction. Besides the method, ideally you’ll use a wider variety of ingredients; things like clams, mussels, squid, chicken are all very commonly used, and will make your rice that much more interesting.

No matter how you cook you paella, one thing you must try to include is the saffron. Besides the short-grain rice, this is probably the most key addition. Unfortunately, the flavor and aroma are almost impossible to describe, so you really need to experience it yourself to fully understand. I’ve heard it described using things like “earthy metallic honey,” and “rusty champagne,” but these really don’t do it justice.

Anyway, if you’ve never tried to make paella before, I really hope this inspires you to give it a go. The Arborio we use here is easy to find in the big grocery stores, and as long as you stick to the liquid/rice ratio, there’s not a lot that can go wrong. And like I said in the video, stay tuned for my future attempt at a more classic version. In the meantime, I hope you give this quick and easy paella a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large portions:
(best to use a 12 or 13 inch wide skillet)

For the saffron broth:
2 tsp olive oil
reserved shrimp shells from 1 pound of jumbo shrimp
1/2 to 1 tsp saffron threads, depending on how strong you want the flavor
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
*Simmer for 20 minutes, strain and reserve. Be sure to season generously with salt, or your rice will be bland.

For the paella:
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz sliced chorizo sausage, or any smoky, spicy sausage
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/3 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup green peas
1 tsp regular or smoked paprika, optional depending on how much was in the sausage
2 cups (exactly) hot saffron broth, or just plain hot chicken broth
1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
1 sweet red pepper, cut into thin strips
salt and cayenne to taste
garnish top with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and freshly chopped Italian parsley
lemon wedges, optional (some love lemon, I prefer without, but give it a try and see)

*Bake at 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes, then finish over med-high flame until rice is just tender. It will be firm and slightly sticky. Don’t burn it, but you can leave it on the flame a little longer to try and get the rice to caramelize and crust onto the bottom of the pan, like the classic version. Be careful.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Warm Goat Cheese & Peach Tartine – Open Face, Insert Summer

I usually don’t mention the time of year during these videos, since I have no way of knowing when someone will actually view them, but when it came to this goat cheese and peach tartine, I couldn’t help myself. For me, this is summer on a slice of bread. My apologies to those of you reading/watching this in February.

August is national goat cheese month (no, I don’t know who decides these things), and what better way to enjoy chèvre than by topping it with sweet, ripe, impossibly juicy peach slices? Mix in a little thyme and black pepper to keep things interesting, and you’re looking at a very special treat. Just make sure to use stale bread.

As I bemoaned in the clip, I used a fresh loaf, which while perfectly delicious, wasn’t perfect. Staler bread would have produced a crunchier stage for our co-stars, as there’s more then enough moisture provided by the cheese and fruit.

By the way, if you don’t have any day-old bread, but still want to enjoy this post haste, simply toss the toasted, olive-oiled slices into a 350 F. oven for a few minutes, to dry out and crisp up before you top with the cheese. Either way, you're in for a significantly tasty summer treat. I hope you give this a try soon (while it’s still summer!). Enjoy!

Ingredients for each Warm Goat Cheese & Peach Tartine:
1 thick slice French bread, sourdough or not
1 tbsp olive oil, or as needed
2 oz fresh goat cheese
3 slices fresh peach
fresh thyme leaves and freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Good and Gooder

Hello there! I wanted to share two cellphone shots I took this weekend, along with a couple of announcements. When I posted our watermelon agua fresca video last week, I got a bunch of comments on YouTube saying that cantaloupe makes an even better one. So, I had to immediately test one out,'s a tie. Both melons make marvelous agua frescas! 

Also, I've started playing around with the "cronut." This croissant/doughnut hybrid has all the food fetishists in a tizzy, and I was encouraged by this first attempt. Not sure exactly when it might make its official appearance, but stay tuned!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Watermelon Agua Fresca – It’s Like Water, But Fresher!

“Agua Fresca” translates to “Fresh Water,” which is kind of funny, since it’s made mostly from fresh fruit. Sometimes I do extensive research into why something has a certain name, but this time, because it's too nice to stay inside surfing on a computer, I’m just going to speculate.

I’m guessing that back in the day before modern plumbing and refrigeration, water may not have always been the best tasting beverage around. Drinking wine and beer all day is a fantastic alternative, but not necessarily when you have things to do, and empires to build.

So, they took some stale, tepid water, and freshened it up with some nice cold, sweet fruit. You have to admit, that sounds pretty plausible. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The bottom line is, there’s really nothing quite as restorative and refreshing on a sweltering summer day. I hope you give this delicious agua fresca a try soon. Enjoy!

To make 2 quarts Watermelon Agua Fresca:
5-6 cups freshly scooped watermelon
2 cups cold water
enough simple sugar syrup to sweeten to taste (recipe as follows)

Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
(you can make any amount by simply using a 1 to 1 ratio, and heating until the sugar dissolves)

View the complete recipe