Monday, December 30, 2013

Are Your New Year's Eve Eats, Completes?

Just in case you're looking for some extra special appetizers for your New Year's Eve party, I've put together a little collection of my favorites. These crowd-pleasers are so delicious, you may even get a kiss before midnight. Just click on the title, and away you go. Enjoy!

Coquilles St-Jacques

The kind of special occasion appetizer we used to enjoy before the dieticians and celebrity chefs ruined it for everybody.

All-American Shrimp Cocktail

There's something about dunking a jumbo shrimp in cocktail sauce that just feels like New Year's Eve

Fancy Mixed Nuts

Why the hell would anyone put out separate bowls of nuts, when you can go full mixed nuts? It's nuts. 

Potato & Chorizo Mini Quiches

Originally a Super Bowl snack idea, these mini-quiches will work just as well on that fancy hors d'oeuvres buffet. They can be fancied up in an infinite number of ways.

Oyster Rockefeller

Any appetizer with "Rockefeller" in the name has got to work here. By the way, if you're under 35, you should call it "Oysters Roc-A-Fella." Trust me.

Clams Casino

It's not gambling if you know you're going to win. By the way, the house (that serves these) always wins.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Utica Greens and Beans – Finding Good Fortune in Upstate New York

As many of you hardcore foodies know, there’s a southern tradition of eating beans and greens on New Year’s Day to help bring good fortune in the coming year. 

By eating “poor” the first day of the year, you supposedly ensure prosperity and good luck the rest of the year. I think I speak for all superstitious, Italian-Americas when I say, that totally makes sense.

Whether you believe in such things or not, you should still try this year’s edible good luck charm, Utica Greens. This delicious Upstate New York vegetable casserole comes in many forms, but usually contains some combination of bitter greens, usually escarole, pancetta or prosciutto, hot fresh or pickled peppers, and bread crumbs.

I’m adding some cranberry beans, so you all get rich in 2014, but that’s totally fine since the locals often add chunks of potatoes, and once you start doing things like that, all bets are off. Whether side dish or main course, this is a perfect winter vegetable magnet, and I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy, Happy New Year, and most of all, good fortune!

Ingredients for 6 side dish servings:
2 heads escarole
2 tbsp olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or prosciutto, diced (You can drain some of the rendered fat if it looks like it's going to be too much. You want about 2 tablespoons total rendered fat pancetta in the casserole)
handful of sliced fresh hot peppers, or jarred pickled peppers
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
12 ounce can cooked cranberry beans, or Cannellini beans, butter beans, white beans, etc., optional
salt and black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fine plain bread crumbs, plus more for the top
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
drizzle top with more olive oil

Saturday, December 28, 2013

I'm Back with a New Trick in My Bag!

That's right, I just flew in from New York, and boy, are my jokes tired. Wait, I think I've already used that one before...which I guess proves my point. Anyway, I've returned from Christmas break with the family, and looking forward to resuming normal production soon (for you newbies that's 2.5 videos every week!).

Technically, we're not supposed to work until the New Year, but it's been too long without a video, and I'm starting to get the shakes, so I'm going to film something today. By the way, the photo shows a very successful experiment I did cooking a prime rib "sous vide" style in a cooler. Now that I think about it, the title should actually be, "New Bag in my Tricks."

I got the idea here, and it worked beautifully! I don't think I'd be able to film, edit and post before New Year's Eve, but rest assumed this will be shared on the channel at some point. Stay tuned. I missed you all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Cookie Update

Just a quick note to say I followed a viewer's tip, and rolled the chocolate snowcap cookie dough in white granulated sugar first, before coating in the powdered sugar. I was told this would prevent the white tops from fading in brightness, and as you can see, that's exactly what happened (don't let the bad cell phone picture fool you). Thanks, anonymous YouTuber! Enjoy!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Crab-Stuffed Deviled Eggs – I Love to Say I Told You So

I love deviled eggs, and have probably had fifty different versions over the years, but these crab-stuffed beauties may be my favorite. The sweet crab is a perfect compliment to the spicy eggs, but above and beyond the delicious flavors, these just look extra special. Okay, that’s enough about the recipe…now, on to more important matters.

Considering the fact that we’ve done almost 1,000 uploads, we’ve had very few controversial recipes. And by “controversial, I mean videos that caused vigorous debate about whether the recipe actually works as shown. One such video was our “How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs.”

While most had no issues, a small but vocal group claimed the recipe didn’t work at all. Some went so far as to say the video was a hoax, as if the egg industry had gotten to me, and convinced me to trick my viewers into wasting eggs to increase sales. I’ll admit, it is a brilliant plan, but it’s not true.

To prove my innocence, I’ve used the exact same method here, and once again, perfection. As long as you’re using a decent pot (as in not paper-thin), enough water, and can manage to successfully set a timer, I’m not sure what can go wrong. By the way, I used cold eggs, so that’s not an issue, as some surmised after the first tutorial. To summarize: I told you this works.

Regardless of how you cook your hard-boiled eggs, this would make a stellar hors d'oeuvre for any special occasion meal. You can be as frugal or extravagant as you want, and the garnishing options are pretty much limitless. Speaking of garnishes, that is a lemon, and not an orange! It's actually a Meyer lemon which have a much warmer color than standard lemons. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


For the bottoms:
*6 large hard-boiled eggs (makes 12 pieces)
2 oz fresh crab meat, chopped
3 or 4 tbsp mayonnaise, or enough to achieve desired consistency
few drops of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp chopped tarragon
1/2 tsp hot sauce or to taste
pinch of old bay
salt and pepper to taste (don't be shy with the salt)

For the crab topping:
2 oz fresh crab meat, shredded slightly
1 or 2 tsp crème fraiche or sour cream
lemon zest of one lemon
Aleppo pepper to taste
salt if needed
Fresh chives

* I only made 12 portions, but this method will work with more. Just be sure your eggs are cover by at least an inch or two of cold water, and proceed as show.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chef John’s Taking Another Break!

The recent break I took over the Thanksgiving holiday was the first time in six years that I’d gone a whole week without posting a video. Well, since everyone was so understanding, and seemed genuinely happy that I was taking a vacation, I’ve decided to take another one.

That’s right, it seems as though I have a few more days of vacation time to use up, and it’s either take them before the end of the year, or risk a terse email from Human Resources. 

This actually works out perfectly, since I’m flying back east to spend the Christmas holiday with my family. My hope is that you’re all be so busy eating, drinking, and of course, shopping, that you’ll hardly notice I’m gone.

By the way, I know I’ve mentioned heading back to New York many times, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever specified exactly where. Here’s a map with good ol’ Machester, NY pinned for all to see. You’re welcome, stalkers. Anyway, I hope you all have a great week, and I promise this will be the last vacation I take this year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Edible Holiday Gift Special: Vegan Miracle Fudge!

I’m calling this “miracle fudge” for several reasons. First of all, the odds of me seeing a vegan fudge link on Twitter, and actually clicking on it, are roughly zero. That alone makes this video miraculous, but that cocoa, maple syrup, and coconut oil can combine to create something so pleasurable and fudge-like, also makes it worthy of the title.

Michele actually discovered the link on Twitter, and called my attention to it since she recognized the Tweeter as my friend, Stephanie Stiavetti aka @sstiavetti. Nothing against Ms. Stiavetti, but this still usually wouldn’t have been enough to tempt me, except that I heard mention of coconut oil.

This was significant because another friend, Ariyele Ressler, posted something called a "The Triple Luxe" on her YouTube channel (pictured here), which featured this fascinating fat. I was captivated by her delicious looking creation, and the coconut oil's butter-like properties, and told myself that I needed pick some up for experimentation.

Anyway, as a result of this perfect storm of social media synchronicity, I decided to check out her recipe, and it rocked. I did a bunch of tests, and even though you’re forfeiting some health benefits, I found the refined coconut oil worked better than the raw, extra-virgin style, if you want something closer to real chocolate fudge. The other key is to keep these in the freezer. They work at room temp, but the texture is much better cold.

The extra-virgin oil has a very pronounced coconut flavor, and seemed to not provide quite as firm a bite. Of course, I expect you to experiment and report back. As advertised, I think this would make a fun, and unique edible gift for the foodies on your holiday gift list. I hope you give this fudge recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Bonus Holiday Gift Idea: 

Not only does Stephanie have great taste in vegan fudge recipes, she also writes cookbooks! I just received a copy of Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, which she co-authored with Garrett McCord, and it’s very well done. It’s getting rave reviews on Amazon, so if you’re still in shopping mode, go check it out.

Ingredients for about 2 dozen squares of Miracle Fudge:
1/2 cup really good unsweetened cocoa (I used this one)
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
few drops of vanilla
pinch of salt

- You can make this without the nuts, but make sure your oil is nice and warm, so the mixture is liquid enough to pour.
-  If the mixture gets too firm to work with, just place over a bowl of hot water until it melts.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roasted Beef Tri Tip with Four-Peppercorn Crust – A Holiday Roast with an Angle

Tri tip of beef is a common summer grill option, but I don’t think I’d ever seen it done as a holiday roast. I tried to think of a reason why it wouldn’t work, but I couldn’t come up with anything. In fact, I decided that not only would this make a great, and more affordable alternative to prime rib, but it would also remind guests of mid-July, which is a proven treatment for winter blues. Side effects may include seconds and thirds.

This is not as tender as a prime rib, but if cooked to the right doneness, you’ll be enjoying juicy, flavorful, and plenty tender enough meat. To that end, I’d avoid the temptation to cook this rare, which can make it too chewy. I like to pull it at 130 F. internal temp, which after resting will give you something closer to medium. For me, this provides the best texture, and an even beefier flavor.

Having said that, there should be something for everyone. Plenty of nice pink meat to go around, and the narrower end will provide just enough well-done for your Aunt. You know, the one who's afraid to get a brain parasite after watching that show on Discovery Channel.

As I mentioned in the video, any veal, beef, or chicken stock/broth will work for the sauce, but I used a super sticky oxtail broth that I will show at future date. If you can’t wait, simply do our beef stock recipe with oxtails. Anyway, if you’re looking to do a beef roast for the holiday table, I hope you give this peppery tri tip a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 6 portions:
2 1/2 to 3 pound beef tri tip roast, trimmed
3-4 garlic cloves crushed with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil
salt to taste
enough very coarsely ground black, white, green, and pink peppercorns to cover the surface,
about 4-5 tbsp
Start at 450 F. for 15 minutes, removed and turn roast, reduce heat to 200 F. and roast to an internal temperature of 125-130 F. Let rest 15 minutes!

For the pan sauce;
Reserved pan drippings, about 2 tbsp
1 rounded tablespoon flour
3 cups rich *veal, beef, or chicken broth or stock (or oxtail…coming soon!)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and cayenne to taste
*Most fancy grocery stores will sell frozen veal stock or demi-glace (already reduced-by-half veal stock), which is great for special occasion sauces like this.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Focaccia di Recco – Treating Myself

When I treat myself to a personal “food wish,” it’s usually something I’ve eaten out and become obsessed over, and this episode is a classic case. There’s a Ligurian restaurant called Farina near us, and I’ve become a full-blown focaccia di Recco stalker. 

After watching them make it in front of me so many times, I had to give it a try. It doesn’t look like the focaccia most of us are used to, but come to find out, “focaccia” simply means any flatbread cooked in a hearth, and varies region to region.

This particular example hails from Recco, and is nothing more than some Stracchino cheese trapped in between two, super-thin layers of dough. The dough is nothing more than flour, water, olive oil, and salt; but thanks to a very hot oven, and this probably ancient technique, some serious flatbread magic happens.

As I confess in the video, I was scared to use too much cheese, but I’ll use more next time. At Farina, you can see a thin layer of the molten Stracchino oozing out between the layers. My Crescenza cheese was basically absorbed, but while you couldn’t see it, you could certainly taste it, and it was amazing.

The obvious question is, can you add other fillings to this? Yes, but don’t. It’s perfect…as long as you find the cheese. Please, find the cheese (no substitutions will be offered #toughlove). 

 By the way, I’m officially recommending the quarter sheet pan seen herein, which is what they use in the restaurant, but I think a round tart pan would work as well. In fact, from what I see online, the round pan seems to be the standard. I can’t wait to try this again, and sincerely hope you give it go as well. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 small or 1 large Focaccia di Recco (Tip for first timers: Make a double batch of dough so you have plenty to work with!)
*2 cups all-purpose flour (9.5 by weight)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp water           
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp fine salt
*use enough flour to form a soft, but not too sticky dough. Knead for about 5-6 minutes to from a smooth, elastic dough. Let rest 1 hour at room temp.
12 oz Crescenza or Stracchino cheese (6 oz for each focaccia) 
extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, to taste for the top
Bake at 500 degrees F.for about 6-7 minutes, or until well-browned

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Shooter’s Sandwich – Tally Ho Indeed

Even though this trendy shooter’s sandwich has been requested many times, I’ve resisted making one because I’ve always felt there were better handheld delivery systems for steak and mushroom ingestion. Like a panini for example, or maybe even a cheesy quesadilla; but pressed into a cold, hard wedge?

Then, I had an incredibly small epiphany. I ran across the origins of the shooter’s sandwich online, and realized I might have been missing the point. This wasn’t something you make for just any lunch; it was something you make to take on a foxhunt (or what you Americans call a “tailgate party”).

I can’t remember the last time I was on a foxhunt, but after giving this a try, I can see the advantages of this very filling, very flavorful, and very sturdy sandwich. But, as I stressed in the video, you really need a couple huge steaks to make this work. Even cooked slightly pass medium, this was okay, but another half-inch of tender, pink meat would have made the whole affair significantly better.

So, I guess if I were going on a long hike, or out for a relaxing day of shooting innocent foxes, I would consider making this again, but while I tucked in, I have to admit, I’d probably be dreaming about a steaming hot, steak and mushroom hoagie. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 Portions:
(Note: I didn’t measure anything, ‘cause it’s a sandwich, but these should be close enough.)

For the mustard sauce:
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp extra hot horseradish
1 tbsp mayo

For the mushrooms:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter, divided
1 1/2 pound button mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 tbsp brandy or sherry

The rest:
2 at least 16 to18-oz well-trimmed beef steaks (rib eye, NY strip, or top-sirloin are best choices, in that order). Seared in some vegetable oil.
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 oz fine pate, optional
1 round loaf of crusty bread

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chocolate Snowcaps – There’s Snow on Them There Cookies

I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a holiday cookies swap (apparently you need to have like-minded friends), but if I were, I’d bring these chocolate snowcap cookies. They just look so wintry, with their powdery-white tops, contrasted against those deep, dark cracks.

They’re so captivating, that I find myself daydreaming about tiny Christmas elves skiing down them when no one is looking. I really should see someone about that. Anyway, the point is, if you’re looking for a holiday cookie so seasonally appropriate it hurts, this is the one for you.

As I stated in the video, the only way to mess these up is to not use enough powdered sugar. The first batch I made looked like they had plenty, but that little bit I shook off before placing them on the pan made all the difference. You want to coat them, roll them, coat them again, and then, coat them again. You can’t put too much on.

Also, the batch I made after letting the dough sit overnight didn’t spread out as much, which I thought looked better, and much more mini mountain-like. As far as baking time goes, mine took about 12 minutes, but that depends on exactly how large you roll your dough balls.

To be safe, you should probably do five or six practice batches to get this time dialed in [wink]. Once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a classic Christmas cookie that tastes as good as it looks. I think I speak for tiny, imaginary elves everywhere, when I say we hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 2 dozen Chocolate Snowcap Cookies:
Recipe found here on
6 ounces dark chocolate, broken in small pieces, melted over hot water
3/4 cup AP flour
1/3 cup cocoa (I used Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup room temp butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup powdered sugar, or as needed

*Bake at 350 degrees F.  for about 12 minutes, depending on size

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I’m (almost) Back!

Today is the last day of my vacation, and I'm sorry, but I just couldn’t not post any longer. So, I wanted to say a quick hello, and thank everyone who sent along their well-wishes during the break. By the way, I loved seeing the pictures many of you posted on Twitter and Instagram of our Thanksgiving recipes!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to golf as I'd planned, but I did keep myself busy with a few fun projects around the house. One of those projects was definitely not an awesome and illegal pizza oven built from a pile of bricks found in the garden (not pictured here). Nope, that didn’t happen.

Anyway, I’ll have a brand new video recipe tomorrow, so be sure to stay tuned for that, and as always…I missed you!