Saturday, June 30, 2007

I've Never "Bean" That Scared Before!

This funny clip is a great reminder why you should never buy those letter refrigerator magnets. Why take a chance? As far as the beans, well, those are a nutritious kitchen staple that we must have around, so make sure you get them from a reliable source. Enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wasabi Dipping Sauce – How much can you take?

This very simple (and fat free) dipping sauce is a great all-purpose condiment for many things. I love it with the spring rolls I made yesterday, but it’s also good with many Asian dumplings, pot stickers, etc. As I mention in the video clip the amount of Wasabi you add is completely up to you and your pain threshold. I ended up with 3 teaspoons worth, but I think most of you will be fine with one or two. By the way, I know full well that “I’m over-powering the flavor of the fish.” I’m fine with that. For me the spring rolls were just an excuse to catch a Wasabi buzz.

This sauce can be varied in many wonderful ways by adding lemon, lime, cilantro, garlic, green onions, ginger, etc; well, you get the idea. Happy dipping, and enjoy!

1 to 3 tsp Wasabi powder
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp Shiracha hot sauce
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

Bonus Wasabi Video Clips: Damn you Budweiser!

In the clip I joked about people that still do the “Waaassssaaaabiiii” greeting from the Budweiser commercial that ran ages ago. Like I said, it was funny for about 2 days. Then it was just annoying. Now it’s actually painful to hear. Please, I beg you, stop doing it! Believe me, your friends (if you have any left) will really, really appreciate it. Here’s the original commercial that started the insanity.

And here is a clip of someone still actually using it! I sent her a message on YouTube asking her to please stop. She was a good sport about it but replied “never!” She said her friends “loved it.” Sure they do.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

California Spring Rolls – I used imitation crab, for real!

I get the occasional request for a sushi demo. I usually tell the viewer (politely of course) to go out for sushi and leave me alone. Properly made sushi is an art and take decades of practice to master. Now, of course I could fake my way through a simple California Roll, which is just the basic crab, rice and avocado rolled up in a Nori seaweed wrapper. But, even that requires properly cooked short-grain sushi rice which is quite easy to mess up at home. So I came up with this idea to combine the components of the California Roll and present it in Spring Roll form. If you saw our Chicken Caesar Spring Roll clip, you saw how easy (and healthy) spring rolls are. They are fast, beautiful, and perfect for the summer, when you just don’t want go anywhere near the stove. These rice paper wrappers are found in any store that sells dry Asian noodles, which is every large grocery store. You’ve never seen them because you’ve never looked for them; they’re on the bottom shelf.

Regarding the imitation crab I used for this recipe clip. If you’ve never thought about using it, it’s time to give it a try. Imitation crab has come a long way since it hit the market many years ago. It used to be fairly low quality; a little bit of Pollock, a lot of vegetable starch and other fillers, and probably a dose of good old Red Dye #2. Well, these days there are some very good quality varieties to choose from. READ THE LABELS! As I show in the clip, while still made mainly from Pollack many are also flavored with many different “real” fish and shellfish extracts including scallops, lobster, salmon, etc. It’s also a fat free food!

You may be surprised to know that many Sushi Bars actually use this higher quality imitation crab in their California Rolls, as the real crab would be cost prohibitive. Trust me, if you’re paying $2.75 for that California Roll, you’re not getting fresh Dungeness crab! Can you tell the difference? I hope so. There is nothing like fresh, sweet crab. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also use the imitation crab for recipes like this. It’s inexpensive, delicious, and if you read the label, pretty nutritious. By the way, stay tuned for the very simple Wasabi dipping sauce I used along side these. Enjoy!

spring roll wrappers (aka rice paper rolls)
imitation crab (flake style)
ripe avocado
shredded cabbage
red leaf lettuce

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Braised Chicken and Artichoke Hearts with Lemon, Cherry Peppers and Thyme

This delicious and easy chicken recipe is great example of how a few simple ingredients can come together to create an incredibly complex and flavorful dish. Even though there are not a lot of different ingredients, the ones we are using give us a wide range of textures and tastes. The succulent braised chicken thighs, falling off the bone, scented with fresh lemon and thyme; the creamy artichoke hearts and butter beans (our surprise secret ingredient); the sweet and sour cherry peppers, with their slight heat; all swimming in a rich and nutritious broth. Are you getting hungry yet? And, no, you can’t use breasts, so don’t ask. If you're one of these people that doesn’t like “dark meat,” please give this recipe a try and you will surely be converted. Come over to the dark side, it sure is delicious over here!

A couple of things I mention in the video recipe that I wanted to expand on here. I like to buy the whole canned artichoke hearts verses the quartered pieces. I find them to have a better texture and sometimes the quartered hearts are over-marinated in the brine they are packed in. Also, spend the extra dollar and get the better imported brand, it will be worth it. I’ve used the Peppadew cherry peppers in a similar dish, my Spicy Mediterranean Chicken with Sausage Stuffed Cherry Peppers, so if you want more info you can check out that post and clip. If you can’t find that exact pepper don’t worry, any jarred or fresh cherry pepper will work. You can even use sweet red bell peppers if you prefer.

Even though I didn’t serve it that way in this clip, this recipe is amazing on top of some pasta or rice. But, my favorite accompaniment would be a slice of crusty Italian bread to dip into the fragrant broth. No matter how you decide to serve it you are in for a treat. Enjoy!

4 Chicken Leg Sections (thigh and drumstick, bone in)
10 canned whole artichoke hearts, cut in half
2 cups cherry peppers
1 or 2 lemons, juiced (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup juice)
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
8 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tbl olive oil
1 quart chicken stock or broth
* Braise for 1 hour at 375 F
* Adjust for salt and pepper before serving

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Viewer Submission Regarding a Chef's Admission

I received a very complimentary email today from a couple of viewers, Natalia and Jody, who told me they had just made the Orange Chicken. If you saw that clip, you heard me lamenting about using orange peppers instead of red. I thought that red would have made for a much nicer looking final plate. Well, these two lovely ladies thought it would be nice to attach a photo of their version, WITH red peppers, in an obvious attempt to make me feel worse than I did already. Thanks a lot! By the way, it looked like you did a very nice job with the recipe, and it looked nice on the blue plate. All kidding aside, thanks for the email and picture.

Smoked Chicken Apple Sausage with Cider-braised Cabbage and New Potatoes – A delicious reminder that it’s not winter…yet.

This recipe clip was filmed last fall and for some reason was never posted when it should have been, which was in February when I started this blog. As I watched it, I was shocked by the difference in quality compared to the clips I’ve done with the new camera. So, please excuse the momentary return to the old webcam technology.

As you’ll hear me say in the clip, this really is a great cold weather meal. But, instead of waiting 6 months to post it, I thought I would put in on the blog now for several good reasons. First of all, while it is a classic winter dish, it’s delicious anytime of the year, and the ingredients are easy to find no matter what the season. Secondly, summer cooking is all about quick and easy, and this one-dish recipe definitely qualifies. Remember “braised” doesn’t always mean slow-cooked. Lastly, what a great reminder to enjoy every wonderfully warm second of this summer, because before you realize it you’ll be raking leaves in a sweater.

One quick note regarding shopping for chicken apple sausage. Due to the recent increase in popularity of these chicken and turkey based sausages; many larger grocery stores may stock as many as 4 or 5 different brands and varieties. But, be sure to check the labels! Some brands (usually the less expensive ones) will have just as much fat as the classic pork-based sausages they’re suppose to be a healthier alternative too.

4 smoked chicken apple sausage (1 pound)
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 pound new potatoes (I like Yukon gold or red)
1 yellow onion
3 cups apple cider or juice
1 green cabbage, shredded (about 1 1/2 pounds)
salt and pepper to salt
Dijon mustard and fresh parsley to garnish

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Was it the Last Supper?

I'm a HUGE Sopranos fan. So for this weekend's filler clip I'm posting this clip I found on YouTube that makes the case for Tony being whacked. Since the now famous final scene takes place in a Diner, that makes it food related, and completely appropriate for this blog. Personally, I don't think Tony was shot, but as you'll see in this clip, the author makes some interesting observations. I especially like the onion ring comparison. And, what if you've never seen the Sopranos? Well, you've got a lot of catching up to do. In my humble opinion, the Sopranos was the best television show EVER…except of course for The Simpsons and Seinfeld. I tried to find a Sopranos food scene montage, but didn’t find anything, which would have been very cool. If you see one please let me know! Enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Spicy Orange Chicken – So not authentic!

This low-cal version of the Chinese take-out favorite is tasty, easy, and a much healthier twist on the classic “Orange Chicken.” The main problem with the Chinese take-out version is that the pieces of chicken are first dipped in a batter, fried in oil, then wok fried again in the spicy, sweet orange glaze. While very delicious if done right, it is incredible high in calories. So, be warned, my version uses no oil and should not be compared to the style you many be used to. I’m just taking the same flavor profile; the sweet orange, the spicy chilies, the Asian condiments, from the traditional recipe and making something much lighter, but still very tasty.

If you’ve tried our Caramel Chicken recipe, this clip has a very similar procedure. As we did in that recipe, we also use a bit of Fish Sauce, which is well worth finding. Once an exotic “secret ingredient” only found in Asian kitchens, Fish Sauce is now found in all the higher-end grocery chains’ Asian food sections right next to the soy sauce. And, of course any Asian market will have several varieties that are probably far superior to the one I showed in the demo. If you can’t find it, this will still work, but since Fish Sauce has a unique salty flavor you may have to adjust with a bit more soy, or regular salt.

Now, as you’ll soon see I cooked this dish right in a regular old sauté pan. I don’t own a wok, and to be honest have never been a big fan. I know, I know, they are great for these stir-fries and you can put the food on the sides and the bottom stays hot, and blah, blah, blah, BUT for the average cook there are two main problems with the wok. One, to be used effectively you need a really hot flame. My “Sears special” gas stove just doesn’t crank out enough heat to really take advantage of the wok’s design. And, if you have an electric stove forget about it. If you ever saw the flame under a real wok in an Asian restaurant you would be amazed how insanely hot they are. The other problem is that 90% of the woks sold in American stores are cheap, poorly made, and almost impossible to “season” properly. By season I mean getting the wok’s cooking surface to the point where the food doesn’t easily stick, similar to seasoning a new cast iron pan.

The other reason I don’t have one is for the amount of times I would use it (assuming I had a nice gas stove and bought a well-made and properly seasoned wok), doesn’t justify the space that the thing takes up. Next time you are snooping around someone’s kitchen or pantry, notice which pan is always on the bottom of the stack, holding all the other pans… yep, that old dusty and probably rusty wok. But, for those of you that love woks, and use them regularly, God bless you (or Buddha). I’m happy you enjoy your wok, and by all means keep on woking! Enjoy the clip.

8-10 chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl grated ginger
1 bunch green onions
1 jalapeno pepper
1 bell pepper
4 oz sugar snap peas, or snow peas (a handful)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp hot chili flakes

2 tbl orange zest
cilantro to garnish
*I served on some brown rice, which was a very nice combo with the orange flavors, since the brown rice has that slight nuttiness to it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cracking Eggs…with one hand tied behind our backs!

Here’s the clip I mentioned in yesterday’s post regarding making culinary history. Like I said, if you can learn this trick from watching one of my video recipe clips, I am confident that I can teach you anything.

Even though I did several loops of the key moments in the procedure, as well as some slow-mo, this is a clip you will probably have to watch a few times to get down. As you’ll soon see, the golf ball trick should save you a few dozen eggs as you get the hand movements down. A very light grip is the most important key, with just a slight pressure on the middle finger, as I will explain. Of course, all this will make a lot more sense as you watch the clip.

Another thing I mentioned yesterday that is very true, it only takes one successful one-handed crack and you’ll be able to do it forever. For the home cook this is just a way to show-off at the next brunch party, but for the professional cook this is a huge time saving technique that will literally halve the time it takes you to crack a case of eggs, as you’ll be using both hands and doing 2 eggs at a time! Trust me, your Chef will be impressed, especially of he or she can’t do this!)

Once you move on from golf balls to real eggs, you still may crush a few (you will be holding them too firmly). Don’t worry, just strain the cracked eggs through a sieve and make some perfect scrambled eggs. I put a direct link to that recipe video in case you haven’t seen it yet. Good luck. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Making Culinary History

In tomorrow’s clip I will attempt something that’s never been successfully done in the history of “long distance” culinary instruction. I will teach you how to crack an egg with one hand. That’s right, crack an egg with one hand. Why? First of all, you’ll double the speed that you currently crack eggs. Secondly, you will be able to lord over other foodie friends that can’t crack eggs with one hand (for some reason this really impresses people). And finally, the clip will act as an important experiment regarding learning actual culinary techniques simply by watching.

I’ve been getting lots of emails asking about the online cooking classes, and if you can really learn specific skills without “hands-on” training. I think so. That’s why I chose the one-handed egg cracking challenge. It’s something that is not shown in many cooking schools, as it is not as easy thing to show, even in person. It is normally a skill a cook picks up cracking cases of eggs for a large brunch, and learned by trying over and over until they finally “get it.” By the way, once you do “get it’ you never lose it. So, if I can teach you to crack eggs with one hand, I can teach you anything! Tune in tomorrow and let’s make history together.

Additional Site Update: If you’re bored, please read this!

I just deleted a comment on the Happy Birthday post I did for my mother (literally, a post only a mother could love). The comment said that the site was “becoming a bore.” The nerve! But, to be honest I have to agree with the ungrateful jerk that wrote it. As I explained in previous posts, while I experiment with the new equipment, and spend more time on the promotion of the site, I will not have new clips to post everyday. Believe me, I can’t wait until I get to a point where all I have to worry about is what to film and edit for your viewing pleasure.

Please remember, as much as I try to make it seem like one, this blog is not a public service, or a hobby. It will either serve as my full time job, or it will cease to exist. I must develop the site to a point that I can at least generate enough traffic and revenue to sustain myself. This is not the type of site (meaning daily video recipe clips) that can be done in someone’s spare time. I think most of you understand this, as the positive emails and comments out number the negative ones by 100 to 1. The response to this site, and what I’m trying to do, has been overwhelming and incredibly inspiring.

So, please bear with me as I attempt to improve the site’s video quality, significantly increase traffic, and most importantly, finish the online culinary classes. And, if you can’t, and do get bored with the site, you can always stop visiting for a few weeks and catch up on your Emril reruns. Bam!

Happy Birthday Mom!

It's my mother Pauline's birthday today. I was torn as to whether I was going to ship an expensive gift to her, or instead post a free birthday wish here on the blog using someone else's happy birthday song I found on YouTube. I think I made the right call. Hey, at least it's not one of those e-cards! Ironically, she is having an eye procedure done today and probably won't be able to see the post. Hopefully, someone will read it to her.

These days people just don't bake each other birthday cakes. All the grocery stores sell good quality, fine looking cakes, and for a few extra dollars, will slap some ones name on top. Well, not Pauline. When it's someone’s birthday, no matter how tired she is, she gets out the bowls and mixer and whip up a homemade cake. That's why I posted the second cake photo. Growing up, when it was either mine or my sister Valerie's birthday, my mom always baked us a homemade cake complete with personalized frosting. But, I'm sure there were times when, after a long, hard day at work, later in the evening, the last thing she wanted to do was make a birthday cake. So, there must have been a few times over the years when, piping bag of frosting in hand, she really wanted to express the sentiment illustrated on the second cake.

Anyway, enjoy the musical tribute; it took me a lot of effort to find! I'll see you in a few weeks.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father’s Day!

Open-Face New York Steak Sandwich with Garlic Balsamic Glaze and a side of Childhood Memories

This clip was done quite a while ago using the older, "primative" equipment, and was previously posted on my old blog, but it’s now making it Food Wishes debut. So, while this will be a re-run for some of you, most of you probably have not seen it. And, as you’ll soon read below, this clip, out of all the ones I've recorded is the recipe that most reminds me of my father, John. This one's for you Dad.

Growing up, this open-faced sandwich was probably my favorite restaurant lunch item. I used to tag along with my father out on the golf course, and after the round he would take me to the clubhouse for lunch. I always ordered the same thing; the open-face New York steak sandwich. My favorite part was the way the toast would soak up all the wonderful juices, and hey, for a kid to eat a sandwich with a fork and a knife…that was quite a grown-up experience. Sitting there with my Dad, eating with the men, while they talked and laughed and argued about the round they had just shot, is one of my earliest, and fondest culinary memories. I would even get a glass of Coke with a cherry in it so I could share in the cocktails that were an important part of this post game ritual.

Speaking of golf, I want to wish a very happy Fathers Day to my father-in-law Al! Al has generously treated me to countless rounds of golf all over Northern California. In addition to being a great golfer, he is an even better person and father. He is away on vacation to Clear Lake for the weekend, and I can only hope he is left in peace to watch the final round of the US Open. What more could a father want on this day? Thanks Al and we hope you enjoy your day!

I’ve tweaked the original a bit with the garlic balsamic glaze. The original was usually just served with garlic butter. I hope you enjoy this classic as much as I do! I recommend using NY strip steak, or Top Sirloin for this, as I find rib eye too fatty, and tenderloin too lean. Another key is a good quality, heavy-duty sauté pan, preferably the stainless steel/copper bottom style. You can use a standard non-stick if you must, but the steak juices won’t caramelize as well, which is the key to this amazing sauce.

8 oz New York strip steak
salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste
2 cloves garlic
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup water
1 tsp butter
2 slice Italian bread

Friday, June 15, 2007

Three Corn Polenta – An old Italian classic gets “freshened-up”

In today’s clip I'm going to use corn in three different ways. I’m going to use it dried and ground, which of course is the Polenta part. I’m also going to use fresh corn, but cooked two different ways. Part of the fresh corn will be sautéed and cooked into the polenta, and the remainder will be added at the last minute so it stays relatively crisp and fresh tasting. Now, if all this sounds too complicated, as you’ll see from the clip, it’s actually an extremely simple dish. The final result may remind some of you of creamed corn, but this is significantly lower in fat and calories, as it has only a small amount of butter and no cream, flour, etc. The “creaminess” comes from the properly cooked polenta and plain old water.

When I first began my career as a cook in San Francisco, polenta wasn’t a common starch in non-Italian restaurants, as it is today. I remember talking with a Chef about an upcoming menu on which he was thinking of using polenta as the side dish. I asked him what exactly polenta was and he told me an Italian ground corn meal. I asked him if he was talking about “Polanda.” He said no, and that he had never heard of polanda. I told him it was also an Italian ground corn meal that I had eaten many times growing up. I remember calling my Mom and telling her we were going to serve something called polenta at the restaurant. I asked her if she had ever heard of this similar sounding dish. She laughed and said that they were the same things! She explained that “pol-an-da” was just our family’s mispronunciation of the actual name polenta. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least. Come to find out, my family had mispronounced and/or Americanized many Italian terms (mostly curse words), which I won’t go into now, but needless to say, from that point on, I’ve always checked! Enjoy!

1/2 cup polenta
2 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
3 ears fresh corn (about 1 1/2 cups)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Flipping the Banana

Due to some technical difficulties (that I won’t bore you with) I don’t have a new clip for you to enjoy today. And if you’re thinking that I probably had a great new clip all ready and then lost it, like an idiot, because I don’t really know how to use all the new equipment yet, well, that’s definitely not what happened! By the way, does anyone know if they sell Nerf Computers? Man I’d love to kick one of those around for a couple of hours.

Besides, YouTube has been acting finicky all week and even if I had a clip ready, you may not have seen it for a while. So, hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with an exciting new video recipe clip. In the meantime, instead of getting mad I’m going to, as Ned Flanders would say, “turn that frown upside-down,” or as we say in the food business “flip the banana!” The photo was sent to me by regular viewer who found it on Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Simple Sherry Vinaigrette – Shake it baby!

Today’s post is really two separate demos. One is to show you a fantastic, all-purpose salad dressing using sherry vinegar. The second is a technique that makes emulsifying a dressing a fast and easy process. The reason I like sherry vinegar so much is that combines the complex, tartness of really good wine vinegar, with the rich, sweetness of balsamic vinegar. The vinaigrette shown today literally goes great with everything; whether it’s under a delicate filet of poached fish, over a grilled steak, or with an avocado salad, as you see pictured here (avocado salad sold separately).

The squeeze bottle method I show is such an easy way to emulsify a dressing and eliminates the need for the old “stand there and slowly drizzle in the oil in a fine stream” method. Lots of professional cooks will of course use a blender, which works great, but for the home cook making smaller amounts, I think my squeeze bottle is the way to go. By the way, as you’ll hear me attempt to explain during the video recipe clip, the small amount of mustard is a key ingredient, and if you leave it out, the oil and vinegar will not stay bound together. Needless to say, this is my base recipe and can be varied in countless ways by adding herbs, garlic, shallots, etc. Enjoy!

1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Nasturtium Salad - Pretty Delicious

Nasturtium, which is Latin for "nose-twister,” is a very common, very colorful ground cover that, as you’ll see in today’s video recipe clip, is a great addition to a green salad. By the way, I got the "nose-twister” translation from Wikipedia, but it didn’t say why or how it got that name. So, all you gardeners out there, if you know PLEASE tell me why, it’s driving me crazy. Speaking of crazy, no, you don’t have to be crazy to put flowers on a salad. As long as they are there for flavor AND color you are culinarily correct to do so. It’s hard to think of another flower whose petals are as intensely colored as the Nasturtium. It actually makes filming and photographing them quite a challenge (at least that’s my excuse).

Culinary students are always reminded by their Chefs to never add things to plates solely for cosmetic reasons. Ideally, everything on a plate should add both flavor and visual appeal to the dish. Nasturtium petals meet both goals; they’re incredibly beautiful as I have already stated, AND have a subtle, delicious flavor. It’s a slightly peppery taste similar to a mild Watercress. Many grocery stores have these flowers in the herb section during the summer and you can always find them at any farmers market.

By the way, since we are talking salads in today’s post, in my next recipe clip I’m going to show you what I consider to be the best “all purpose” oil and vinegar-style salad dressing. It’s a simple Sherry vinaigrette I leaned ages ago, and it’s my all-time favorite, and soon, maybe yours. Stay tuned. Anyway, take a walk around the backyard, or the neighbor’s garden, and find some Nasturtium (it shouldn’t be too hard) and make that plain old mixed green salad explode with color and flavor. Enjoy!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Couple of Kitchen Calculators - Go Figure

I get the occasional email requesting a recipe be converted into metric units, or tempertures in Celsius. Well, now you can do it yourself. These two calculators are from The first is a simple, yet very complete, units of measure calculator. It will convert any units of weight, volume or length. Now you can convert my quarts into your liters, and my ounces of weight into grams and visa versa. Just make sure you have the right setting regarding weight and volume; remember 8 ounces is cup by volume, but can also be half a pound. It will also convert my Fahrenheit temps to Celsius.

This second calulator can help you add up your daily calorie intake. If you click on the settings on the top you can also enter your age, weight, etc. and it will give you a daily guideline for total calories. As you click on the differnet courses, the options will change in the pull down menu.It doesn't have everything, but it's pretty good. Just make sure you check the right number of portions. I certainly don't count calories on a regular basis, but it's kind of interesting to add up an average day once and a while to see what's going on. It can be reset any time to start over.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

I’ve been “Widget-tized!” Look out sidebars, here I come!

Thanks to a great site called Widgetbox, this blog now has its very own “widget.” If you click the picture to the left, or this text link, you can go and get this widget, and with a few simple clicks, can have this placed on your website or blog. For all of you kind viewers that have written to me offering to help spread the word about this blog, here is a great way to do it. Now you can help promote this site without spamming your friends, families and co-workers (although I hope you’ve already done that!) Widgetbox will allow you to customize this widget as far as colors, etc. and you don’t have to sign-up for anything, which is a nice feature. But, if you do sign-up as a user (which only took me 10 seconds) you can rate and comment on the different widgets there, as well as build a widget of your own. So, if you are able, please go grab this lovely sidebar widget and help turn more viewers on to me and my video recipes. Thanks!!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Chicken Parmesan – All you baby cows can relax!

As I said yesterday, this was the winner of our first reader poll used to pick a demo. This demo is dedicated to my niece Brittany. This is her favorite meal, or at least I think it is. Over the years I’ve probably gone out to eat with Brittany maybe 75 times and she has ordered this 73 of those times…the other two occasions we were at Chinese restaurants and I think she still tried to order it. Hopefully, she will try to make this at home after watching this clip. Anyway, I’m sure Brittany is not alone in her love of the Chicken Parm, as it’s probably the most popular non-pasta dish in Italian-American style restaurants. Back in my day, it was of course Veal Parmesan, but eating baby cows fell out of fashion, and the Chicken is now the protein of choice. What’s that? You don’t eat chicken either? Well, then you’ll just have to stay tuned for my amazing Eggplant Parmesan coming soon.

The main problem I have with the version served in most restaurants is that they drown the chicken in so much sauce and cheese, that it ends up being a big soggy chicken/cheese clump. I don’t put any sauce under the chicken cutlets, just a little bit on top, so the breading stays relatively crisp. If you like a lot of sauce, fine, serve it along side when the dish is served. I also actually use some Parmesan cheese! Most versions of this only use mozzarella; I’m going with a delicious mixture of fresh Mozzarella, tangy Provolone and “real” Parmesan. The other little trick you see in the video recipe is how I add some of the grated Parmesan to the breadcrumbs, which adds another layer of flavor. Be sure your oven is well preheated to 450F, we want the cheese to slightly brown and the breading to crisp up before the chicken gets over-cooked, and a nice hot oven is the way to go. The rest of the demo is pretty straight forward, so let’s get to it. Enjoy!

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cups “Panko” Japanese style bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup grated provolone
4 oz fresh mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
olive oil for frying
1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce (high-quality!)
1/4 cup fresh shredded basil, or pesto, or dried Italian herbs of your choice, or omit
*Baked for approximately 15-20 minutes at 450F

Thursday, June 7, 2007

And the winner is…Chicken Parmesan!

The viewers have spoken! Tomorrow’s post will be my version of the ubiquitous Chicken Parmesan. It was kind of cool letting you, the readers, decide on what I would demo. But, since I wanted to do the 3-Corn Polenta, this is the last poll I’ll ever have. As we all well know, democracy just doesn’t work! Ok, just kidding, I’m sure you will see the occasional poll posted here on various topics. Anyway, like I said in the original post, this was more of a test of how the polling software works, and much to my surprise it did work and was easy to manage. By the way, I will eventually demo all the other options listed in the poll. So, be sure to tune in tomorrow to see this Italian-American classic done Chef John style.

Here are the "official" results:

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Shepherd’s Pie “Moussaka” – A Culinary “Mash-up” of two Old World Classics

For those of you that aren’t hip (like me…I don’t have an iPod which automatically makes me not hip), a “mash-up” usually refers to a DJ taking two different songs and mixing and “mashing” them together to produce a new musical creation. My personal favorite, the Jay Z/Linkin Park mash-up MTV did a few years ago. If you haven’t heard any of that, and you’re under 60 years old (Hi, Mom), then check it out, it’s great stuff. Big Pimpin for real. Anyway, in that same spirit of combining two great things to make a new even greater thing, I present today’s video recipe clip.

I love classic Greek “Moussaka.” Layers of lamb and eggplant, exotically spiced and topped with a rich, almost custard-like sauce. I also love a good Shepherd’s Pie, what’s not to like about a pie made out of ground meat and mashed potatoes? So, I thought I would try a Shepherd’s Pie using the flavor components of the Greek “Moussaka.” Did it work? Damn right! It was really good, and next to a green salad, made for a very satisfying supper on a foggy San Francisco night.

A few suggestions before you watch the clip. The potato topping I do is relatively bland since I was topping a very highly seasoned meat base. You should use my spice amounts below as a rough guide, and add the cumin, cinnamon and hot pepper in increments until you have something that tastes right to you. The lamb and eggplant mixture is NOT subtlety spiced in this dish, and the ingredient amounts reflect that fact. This dish should explode with exotic and aromatic flavor. To me that’s what makes the “crispy and browned on the top, but moist and tender underneath” potato topping such a great contrast. And don’t forget the fresh mint. As you hear me say in the clip, I used chocolate mint, which you can find at the better garden centers (or order the seeds online – it’s an amazing herb), but plain supper market mint will work beautifully. Enjoy!

2 lbs ground lamb
2 eggplant
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
3 russet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 grated parmesan cheese
1/2 stick butter
salt to taste
1 egg
fresh mint
2 tbl olive oil
Spice Mix:
2 bay leaves
3 tbl ground cumin
1 tbl cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1 tbl black pepper
1 tbl salt (at least, taste and adjust)
2 tbl herb de provance (or Italian or Greek dried herb mix)
1 tbl paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
*Baked at 400F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown

Monday, June 4, 2007

Stuffed Summer Squash with Goat Cheese and Romesco – Our least terrible test yet!

Well, the new microphone is hooked up and I think the sound is better. The intros and endings of these test clips still need a lot of work, and I just realized that I need to go out and pick up a digital camera for the still shots. Other than that, I think I’m starting to figure this new stuff out.

This has always been one of my favorite summer side-veggie dishes. Any summer squash you can cut in half will work. Anyone that has, or knows someone that has, a vegetable garden really needs to try this dish! I mean, what the hell are you going to do with all those squash? The completely irregular green starburst squash you see in this video were not the best choice to do a demo with since they are hard to slice in half evenly, but hey, if it works with these, it will work with any squash as I said.

The deep, rich flavor of the romesco mingling with the sweet blandness of the squash combined with the creamy tang of the warm goat cheese makes this dish a summer classic. Don’t serve too hot! This dish shines best served warm or at room temp. If you’ve never tried romesco, this is the dish to taste it in. It’s a medium-spicy, “pesto-like” sauce made from roasted red peppers, garlic, almonds, anchovy and other spices. We use it a lot in summer, as it is the perfect instant sauce for any grilled meat, fish or vegetables. One of these days I’ll show you how to make your own romesco, but for now you should be able find it at most high-end grocery stores. If you can’t find or make it, any flavorful sauce will work; salsa, roasted red pepper relish, olive tapenade, etc. Enjoy!

3 small summer squash
6 tbl goat cheese
3 tbl romesco sauce
3 tbl olive oil
2 tbl plain bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I Can't Decide. What Do You Think?

I just ran across some polling software that I thought I would try out this week. Yes, another test! I'm not going to describe the recipes listed on the poll, so don't ask. Just pick the one that sounds the best to you, and click the button (if you feel like it). It's more of a test of the polling software than an experiment in culinary democracy. Thanks for participating. Speaking of polls and voting, in true American political tradition, I will be voting for which ever 2008 candidate’s campaign donates the most to this site. Yes, my vote can, and hopefully will, be bought.

Which recipe would you most enjoy seeing this week? (by the way, you have to vote without any recipe desciptions)
"No Slice" Potato Gratin
Romesco Glazed Salmon
"3 Corn" Polenta
Chicken Parmesan
Free polls from

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A Scene from the Best Food Movie Ever!

This is a scene from a movie called "Big Night." It came out in 1996, and I've probably watched it over 30 times. I consider it the best restaurant movie ever made, and no movie that I've seen before or since has captured the experience of the food business so brilliantly as this one. The film is the story of two Italian brothers who own a restaurant called "Paradise". Primo (played by Tony Shalhoub), is an intense, passionate chef who can't cope with his customers' expectations of "real" (Americanized) Italian food. The other brother, Secondo (played by Stanley Tucci), is the restaurant manager, who is in a constant battle with his brother over the balance between making money, and staying true to their culinary roots.

This is a great movie, even if you are not a "foodie," as its very funny, sweet, sad, and has an amazing sound track of music from that period. Also, any movie with Isabella Rossellini is worth seeing, and try and see if you can identify the buss boy who later (in real life) goes on to have quite a successful music career. Anyone thinking of going to culinary school and/or starting a restaurant, should be made to watch this movie first. It gives such a perfect study of the agony and ecstasy of the restaurant experience. Find and rent this movie!!! Enjoy.

If you can't find this older movie I've added a link here to Amazon. This is a "must have" for any real foodie.