Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rachael Ray and the Doughnuts of Mass Destruction

As you know, I rarely, if ever, go off topic on this blog. This is especially true when it comes to "real" issues like politics, religion, American Idol, etc. But, this week's controversy regarding Rachael Ray and her "terrorist" scarf has sent me over the edge.

Chances are you've already seen this all over the news, but if not, the clip below will give you the gist of it (chosen from FOX News so you know it will be objective!). I've stated before on this blog, I'm not a huge fan of her shows, but I am a staunch Rachael Ray supporter. Regardless of what you think of her bubbly personality, or easy-to-mock delivery, she is inspiring lots of people to cook at home, which is all that matters in my book.

Regarding this amazingly ridiculous scarf issue; anyone that seriously thinks her scarf was some sort of subtle symbol of support for Islamic terrorists, and that the ad must be pulled to avoid "sending the wrong message," is a complete moron. Even worse than these sad, paranoid, misguided, faux-patriots who sent out emails calling for a boycott, are the brain-dead idiots that actually followed their instructions. Talk about being dumber than a doughnut.

On a Lighter Note: Rachael Ray Enjoying Free Food - Mmm, Mmm, Mmm

Friday, May 30, 2008

Don't Call it Daffy - Duck Leg Ragu!

This video recipe was filmed over a year ago (with a webcam duct-taped to a spice rack), and was never posted here due to what I thought was a corrupted file (and no back-up). I won’t bore you with the technical details (which means I'm not sure how I did it), but I was able to extract the video and do a new voice-over. Unfortunately, there were no photos of the dish, which explains the screen shot, with watercolor filter applied, seen here.

As I say in the video, duck legs are such great meat. They are cheap, rich tasting, easy to work with, and if you do some research, you'll learn that duck fat is actually not such a bad thing. I doubt your local grocery store sells them - instead you'll find whole frozen ducks, which will work in a pinch. But, if you call a meat market, or restaurant supplier, they can easily order a box of frozen duck legs for you. I get mine at a local SF meat wholesaler for about $3 a pound.

They really are delicious, and well worth the trouble searching for. Hey, you can probably even order them online. Here, I'm using them in place of pork and/or beef, in a fairly straightforward meat sauce recipe. Another great thing about the legs is the magnificent skin. I love it fried to a crisp, chopped up, and dusted on top of my pasta. A stunning contrast in texture and flavor. Enjoy!

6 duck legs
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 onion
1 carrot
2 ribs celery
4 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
1 cup white wine
28 oz can tomato puree
1 cup chicken broth
fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano (3 springs of each) tied with string
1 pound rigatoni
parmesan cheese

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Heart and Sole...err, I Mean Tilapia

I received a very nice email, and photo, from Jhe. In it she said, "I only started cooking a few weeks ago and I'm getting better by the day. Tonight, I made your recipe for Sole Dore but used tilapia instead. I also didn't have capers so I made a simple lemon butter sauce. I attached a picture so you can see. My husband LOVED it and he's not a big fish fan. ...Please continue doing what you do."

All my usual kidding aside, these are emails that inspire me to keep doing what I do. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Warm Mozzarella and Bread Salad - Sunshine on My Salad Makes Me Happy

One reason I like making pizza so much are the great leftovers it provides. I don’t mean the cold pizza, which is in the leftover Hall of Fame, I am referring to all those great toppings that didn't get used. A few mushrooms here, a hunk of cheese there, maybe some roasted peppers hiding behind the olives. Some of my greatest omelets, pastas, and risottos have followed a pizza-making binge.

This warm mozzarella and bread salad was no different. What was different was the bright idea I had when I went to serve the salad. I placed it on the table, and went to get the rest of the meal. As I looked across the kitchen, I saw the pesto glistening on the bright white cheese. It looked good. So, I decided to film the plate being placed in the sunny window as part of the recipe (which you'll see in the video).

The results were stunning. The sun warmed the cheese, woke the pesto, and turned a very good bread salad into a memorable one. Now, I'm not saying the sun's rays imparted some kind of mysterious, magical energy into it, but I have been humming John Denver tunes ever since. Enjoy!

stale Italian bread
8 oz mozzarella fresca (fresh mozzarella)
1/2 cup pesto
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes

Monday, May 26, 2008

Celebrating Memorial Day

I've always felt a little guilty celebrating Memorial Day by enjoying delicious barbecue and drinking cold beer. Part of me thinks maybe we should really honor our veterans by eating some of those freeze-dried, ready-to-eat meals, paired with warm water (from the tap, no bottles from Fiji)…chipped beef anyone? An army travels on its stomach, so be sure to remember all the brave cooks and chefs that have made the ultimate sacrifice while feeding our troops in times of war.

This photo by Jorge Gomez, shows two soldiers participating in the U.S. Army's Culinary Arts Competition. I don't know if these guys would beat the Iron Chefs, but they could certainly kick their ass. While most chefs act like they are risking their l
ives to grill your portabella mushroom, these brave cooks actually are.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Don't Have a Cow, Man!

Maybe Bart Simpson was right. This weekend filler video is a lecture by renowned foodie Mark Bittman. It has to do with a subject I've only recently learned about, the negative impact of our modern industrial food production system. Did you know cow's don't like to eat corn?

Now, I want to be very clear on a few things. I love meat and have no intention of becoming a vegetarian. The speaker also shares this attitude, as you'll hear. I also don't like people telling me what's good for me...even when they're right. But, I think we all should be informed about where our food comes from, and if after getting informed you decide to eat a few less burgers, and a few more salads, all the better.

I hesitated to post this before all the barbecues this weekend, but then I realized that it was actually the perfect time to see this video. A big bbq'd steak is perfect for a weekend, holiday or special occasion meal, it's the rest of the week when we should think about maybe changing our habits.

There are a lot of similarities between this lecture, and last week's talk by Michael Pollan. I have a feeling that when Mr. Bittman said he has become involved in this issue recently, that he did so after reading the Omnivore's Dilemma.

Disturbing photo (c) Flickr user schizophonia

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Creole Sausage and Shrimp Jambalaya with a Side of Newman

As you long time viewers know, I'm a huge Seinfeld fan, and being a chef, one of my favorite episodes is The Soup Nazi. Today's video recipe features Newman's personal favorite, jambalaya. While true jambalaya is really more of a thicker rice stew, than a soup, it's one of those dishes that more stock can be added to easily make it into a soup recipe (and feed more people, of course). I'm not sure where the myth arose that Creole and Cajun food was complicated to make. Much like French, Chinese, and Italian cuisine, the best, and most popular dishes are actually the easiest to make.

This recipe is a perfect example. There's really not much chopping, there's only a couple steps, and it's a very easy recipe to alter and adjust to your tastes. This is a perfect dinner party dish, since once it's simmering, you can enjoy the party, and not have to fuss around in the kitchen.

Speaking of dinner parties, one interesting tidbit regarding jambalaya you can fascinate your guests with has to do with the name. No one really knows the true origins of the term "jambalaya," which means I always repeat the most entertaining version.

This is from the Dictionary of American Food and Drink:
Late one evening a traveling gentleman stopped by a New Orleans inn which had little food remaining from the evening meal. The traveler instructed the cook, "Jean, balayez!" or "Jean, sweep something together!" in the local dialect. The guest pronounced the resulting hodge-podge dish as "Jean balayez."

Hey, it could of happened. Enjoy!

2 tbsp butter
8 oz Andouille sausage, or other spicy smoked sausage, sliced 1/4" thick
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup diced tomato, fresh or canned
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4" thick
4 green onions, sliced thin
1 cup brown rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cool Beans - Turning the Mysterious Fava Bean Inside Out

This fava bean video recipe was originally published last year, but since I've been seeing beautiful fava beans at farmer's market I thought it was a perfect time for a rerun.

It’s a shame when people don’t get to experience some great culinary pleasure simply because they don’t know how to work with the product. Fava beans, also called Broad Beans, or Horse Beans, is a good example of that.

These beans are a favorite of Chefs worldwide because of their beautiful color and unique flavor. Unfortunately, for the average grocery store, or vegetable stand shopper, they are just those big, ugly, green pods that get passed over for the more familiar green string beans. I hope after watching this demo that you will run out and buy a big pile of these wonderful beans and begin
to enjoy them, as they deserve to be. If you don’t find them at the grocery store, check the local farmer’s market.

Yes, as you’ll see, there is a little bit of work involved in preparing these beans for whatever recipe you are planning to use them in, but when you consider how delicious they are, it’s definitely worth the effort. I compared them in the original title to Russian Dolls since the part of the bean you eat is actually a seed that is
encased in a think skin, which is encased in a large green pod.

Once liberated, these Fava beans are an incredible addition to so many dishes. They can be eaten plain, added to pastas, risottos, soups, or on salads.
I have a delicious video recipe for a fava bean salad, pictured above, that you can check out by clicking on the link. Enjoy!

Note: In the video I say "MTV," but really meant "VH1." Sorry, Flav.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Potato Pesto Pizza - Hot Starch-on-Starch Action!

One of the cardinal sins of menu planning is putting two starches together on a plate. There are a few exceptions, like Thanksgiving stuffing and mashed potatoes, or potato and macaroni salad at the company picnic, but it's just not something that's usually done.

There have been stories of crazed chefs (redundant?) that have refused a customer's request for a side of rice because they had ordered pasta. That's why I've posted the extra bonus clip below. It's from the must-see movie Big Night. I've posted it here a long time ago, but I never get tired of it, and it's fitting for today's recipe.

Today's video recipe is a potato pizza with pesto, red onions, feta and much, much more. While it may sound odd on paper (or screen), it's quite delicious, and makes a good case for exceptions to the no starch-with-starch rule. Besides, it was a request from my mother-in-law, so what could I say? Enjoy!

Ingredients in order of appearance:

cornmeal on pan

stretch pizza dough to cover

pesto sauce to cover

4 roasted gold potatoes, sliced

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

parmesan to cover

6 oz fontina cheese

1/2 sliced red onion

more pesto dripped on top

4 oz feta cheese crumbled on top

Famous Scene from Big Night

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto – A Lecture by Michael Pollan

This lecture by author, and Berkeley professor, Michael Pollan, is the longest video I've ever posted on Foodwishes. I was scanning the usual sites for some funny weekend filler content, and I came across this. The best book, by far, I read last year was called The Omnivore's Dilemma. It was a fascinating, scary, provocative, disturbing read, and for the first time I really started to think about all the "factory food" we consume.

This lecture filmed at Google, focuses mostly on Michael's new book, In Defense of Food. I highly recommend that if you're interested in what he is talking about, you buy these books and read about where our food comes from, and how it gets to us. I like to think I'm doing some good in the world, showing people how easy it is to cook fresh food at home, but that's only part of it. What they're buying and cooking is just as important. Enjoy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Clifton Springs Chicken Wings - Oven-Fried with Sticky Ginger Garlic Glaze

My mom lives in a small town in western New York, called Clifton Springs. It was home to a popular spa around the turn of the century, thanks to a natural sulfur spring. People came from all over to soak in the therapeutic water, which was supposed to cure all kinds of things. Unfortunately for the town, medical science was unable to verify these claims, and eventually people realized they were just paying to sit in stinky water. Things have been a little slow ever since. So, I figured the least I could do is name a recipe after the place (and it rhymed).

Whenever I go home to visit, I usually indulge in some Buffalo chicken win
gs from a place called Emerson's. They have two flavors of wings; Buffalo-style, and sweet and sour. I've only had the later once and wasn't impressed. I'm just a traditionalist I guess. This week I got a craving for chicken wings, and since there isn’t a decent chicken wing place west of the Niagara River, I decided to make some myself.

I don't use a fryer, but have a great method for frying them in the oven. The surprising part was when I went to make the classic spicy sauce to glaze them, for some reason I remembered those sweet and sour wings, and decided to try something new. I came up with what turned out to be a deliciously sticky, ginger and garlic glaze. I really hope you give these a try. But, if garlic and ginger aren't your thing, at least use the oven method I demo, and glaze them with your favorite wing thing. Enjoy!

5 pounds chicken wings
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 tbsp Frank's hot sauce
2 tbsp veg oil
For the glaze:
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp Sambal chili sauce (or 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp soy sauce

Monday, May 12, 2008

The "Grilled Spring Chicken with Blood Orange and Rosemary" Polka - Perfect for Weddings!

I knew it was only a matter a time before I'd set a video recipe to the Chicken Dance. This spring and summer, millions of inebriated people will be joyously flapping their elbows, and bobbing their heads, to this tune at weddings all over the county. I have no problem with them, they're drunk, what do you expect? It's the sober ones that go out there to "get their Mick Jagger on," I wonder about. They really should know better! That's right, I'm talking to you Tom and Katie (see photo below).
Anyway, this video is a recipe for the game hen (aka Spring Chicken) I posted a picture of a few weeks ago. It was so delicious and beautiful I promised to film it the next time I made it, and I did. The key ingredient here is the erotic, exotic blood orange. They're Spanish in origin I believe, and add a wonderful sweet/tart flavor that's just perfect with the spicy chili sauce and aromatic rosemary.
I know what you're thinking, "this jerk just used another ingredient I can't buy where I live!" "So much for that $1,000 donation I was just about to send him…now I'm sending it to Ralph Nader instead." Hey, I don’t blame you. I'm sure it's frustrating trying to find some of the stuff I use. Sometimes I even make up fake ingredients to mess with you. But, when it comes to the blood orange, there is a solution.

Some dude named Jeff, suggested in a comment on the Game Recognize Game Hen post, that blood orange juice could be simulated with regular orange and a splash of pomegranate juice. Brilliant! In fact, it may be even better. Give this a try, and enjoy!


2 game hens

2 tbsp olive oil

1 blood orange

1 tbsp Asian garlic chili sauce (hot)

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

6 sprigs rosemary leaves

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I'd like to wish all you Moms out there a very happy Mother's day tomorrow. A special "I love you" to my mother Pauline (you may remember her from such videos as Key Lime Pie –see below), my mother-in-law, Peggy (who hasn't been captured in a video yet, but it's only a matter of time), and my sister Valerie (who owes me a chicken Kiev video recipe).

The clip below was posted last Mother's Day, and it cracks me up every time I see it. It isn't really a food video, although it does have some potato chips in it. I think anyone who has ever had a mother, which is many of you, will find it quite humorous. Now, sit up straight, and enjoy!

My Mom Makes Her Famous Key Lime Pie

Click here to read the original post.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Beurre Blanc 101 - How to Make Modern French Cuisine's Most Important Sauce

As far as white tablecloth restaurants go, this simple wine and butter sauce is probably made more often than any other sauce recipe. The wine can be red, white, or blush (we used to call it rosé back when no one liked it), and the technique has basically remained unchanged since it burst onto the culinary landscape during the “Nouvelle” cuisine movement of the1970s.

Nouvelle cuisine is French for "new cuisine." This style was a reaction to the classic “Haute” cuisine ("high cooking"). It focused on lighter, and more delicate dishes, without the
traditional, heavy, flour-based sauces. One of the darlings of this new style was a butter sauce called “beurre blanc,” a simple reduction of wine and vinegar, finished with whole butter.

This sauce is incredibly versatile, and very simple to make. Below this beurre blanc video recipe is another version that uses red wine, called "beurre rouge." It's a pretty old clip that I posted last year, so it's a little rough around the technical edges. Here's the link in case you want to read the original recipe, and get the ingredient list. Enjoy!


Seared Ribeye Steak with Beurre Rouge

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Scallops and Arugula with Lentils and Butter Beans - Great Recipe, Horrible Soundtrack

One great thing about using Apple's iMovie editing software is the library of instrumental soundtracks that you can use as music in your video clips (Hey, Apple, you made billions last quarter, how about a donation for this plug?). There are a few dozen options, and if you've been watching my video recipes for a while, you've heard many of them.

This very delicious Scallops and Arugula with Lentils and Butter Bean recipe video features a soundtrack called "watercolor." At first listen, I thought it was a nice light tune to match with this savory spring dish. But, now that the clip is finished, and I've listened to it a few times, I realize that my scallops are accompanied by bad elevator music. So, please forgive me, and I'm sorry about all those dentist office waiting rooms this will remind you of.

In the clip I mention something called the "Maillard effect." It's the actual reaction that most cooks incorrectly call "caramelization." I could explain it to you in my own words, or simply copy and paste
from Wikipedia…guess which one this is:

"The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. Like caramelization, it is a form of non-enzymatic browning. In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds in turn break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction."

I hope that clears things up. Enjoy!

1 pound scallops

2 tbsp olive oil

pinch of cayenne

1 tsp paprika

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 clove garlic

1 lemon

12 oz jar butter bean (or any large cooked bean)

1 1/2 cup cooked lentils

1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs

2 large handfuls baby arugula

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Roasted Golden Beet and Arugula Salad with Pecans and Goat Cheese – This One's for the Haters

No, I don't love beets. Who does? In fact, I used to hate them. For most of us, hearing the words, "beet salad" brings memories of canned, pickled beets sitting untouched on our school lunch trays. This roasted beet and arugula salad tastes as good as it looks, which is pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Sorry there is no video (yet), but I wanted to share this recipe ASAP. I may film it the next time I make it, which will probably be very soon.

This is a just a great, healthy, spring salad. The real secret is roasting the beets, which intensifies the sweet, earthy flavors. Another trick is using these beautiful golden beets which will not remind you of those "other" beets from years past. This salad is hearty enough to serve as a main course, but also works perfectly as a side dish. Enjoy!

Click here to go to the written recipe on my American Foods site.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Mary Had a Little Lamb Pita, It's Tahini Sauce was Not Quite as White as Snow

Can you imagine someone not familiar with a certain nursery rhyme, trying to figure out this post's title? This video recipe for a Shawarma-Style Lamb Pita was made especially with home cooks in mind. Real Shawarma (which means "turn"), is barbecued slowly on a large rotisserie, and the meat is shaved off as it cooks. This version uses the slightly more common frying pan.

Another compromise is the pita bread we stuff the spiced lamb into. The real deal is rolled up in flatbread. If you look hard enough, you can find soft, fresh flatbread at the higher-end grocery stores (tip: look for parking lots with lots of imports). But, the pita bread works fine, and is very easy to find.

I also show you how to make a simple tahini dressing in the clip, which is a very nice thing to have around. It's exotic, nutty goodness makes it a great "secret" ingredient for salad dressings, as well as a quick condiment for other grilled meats. So, next time you're craving something easy, exotic, and completely un-authentic, give these Shawarma-style lamb pitas a try. Enjoy!

Click here for ingredients and transcript

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May Your Plastic Cup Runneth Over

This summer, businesses all over the country will be holding their company picnics. Due to insurance and liability issues, many of these events now have a one, or two drink limit for attendees. Well, as a public service I've posted the photo below, just in case you're given the assignment of buying the cups. Enjoy!