Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wish You Were Here

The first course from my lunch at Mia, in Caesars, prepared by famous French chef Georges Perrier. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks! I'll be back in SF Monday evening, and will be posting some of the many great shots I took at this delicious event. Stay tuned!

Seared Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Celery and Almond Salad, and Raisins (click to enlarge)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Atlantic City-Style Butter Roasted Cauliflower - I'm on Location and Can't Talk Right Now

Hello from New Jersey! I just flew into Atlantic City to cover the annual "Toast to the Coast" Food and Wine extravaganza for my American Foods site on So, while I'm playing jet-setting food journalist, here is a quick, and very delicious cauliflower video recipe I filmed before I left.

The name of the dish really has nothing to do with Atlantic City, except the trip here forced me to edit it on the plane, and since I don’t have any recording equipment with me, this video is sans voice-over. I think it will be a nice break for both of us. This is an unusual, and tremendously tasty, way to enjoy cauliflower. It's almost like discovering a new vegetable.

I will be doing a recap of the trip with film, recipes, and blog posts to match. By the way, a warm welcome to all the new visitors to the site - the cheese video was featured on Youtube, and we got almost 25,000 pageviews yesterday - a new record! Enjoy the clip!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How to Make the Spicy, Sexy, and Seductive Spanish Romesco Sauce

I adore aioli, I secretly love ketchup, and I've had a thing for tzadziki for a long time, but if I had to choose my favorite all-purpose cold sauce, it would have to be romesco. "Sexy" is an overused adjective that chefs toss out to describe food when they can’t think of anything else to say. But, in this case, it is spot-on. Romesco sauce is a classic, very popular, and yes, sexy, Spanish condiment. There are many versions and recipes, but it's basically a spicy almond and red pepper pesto-like mixture.

The reason I love it so much is that romesco sauce is great on everything…literally. From the lightest grilled fish, to the reddest of red meats, to any and all vegetables. I always have a jar in the fridge, and when a dish I'm cooking has that "something is missing" taste - I throw in a spoon of romesco, and usually, things suddenly get more exciting.

This video recipe I filmed for About a while ago just aired, and when I listened to it, I noticed my usual infectious enthusiasm seemed muted. I'm not sure if I was ill, or suffering from lack of sleep, or depressed from checking my donations, but I seemed a bit flat. Ironically, a great thing to make and eat when you are feeling that way is…romesco! Enjoy.

Click here for ingredients and transcript

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Viewer Submission: French Vanilla Banana Caramel Crepegasm

A viewer named Aga was inspired by the crepe video, and made this very delicious looking crepe dessert. Unfortunately, Aga didn’t tell me exactly what was in it, so my CSI-like food analysis team enhanced the photo, and ran a few tests, like a color spectrometer pixilation frequency scan, as well as a algorithmic variable waveform extraction.

When neither test resulted in a positive ID, they just looked at the photo and guessed it was ice cream, bananas, whipped cream, and caramel sauce. Thanks to Aga for sending in the photo, and if you have pictures to share of your Food Wishes inspired recipes, please send them in!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Beef Braciole - Pounded, Stuffed, and Ready to Roll

This beef braciole recipe (pronounced, bro'zhul), is a version of a dish I learned from my Uncle Bill, who makes it for special holiday dinners. It’s basically a stuffed and rolled piece of pounded beef, braised in tomato sauce. It is one of my all-time favorite Italian recipes, and a great dish to learn, since it can be varied in many delicious ways.

I really hadn't planned on making it, but as you'll see in the clip, I found myself the proud owner of some "reduced for quick sale" sirloin steak. Usually the recipe is done with a tougher cut of meat, and braised for a longer time. But, we chefs must adapt and overcome, so I ended up doing this version that took advantage of the quicker cooking steak.

I also didn’t have some of the classic ingredients like currants and pinenuts, but used what I had, and it came out wonderfully. So, consider this video recipe a lesson in the technique of pounding, stuffing, and rolling the braciole - which will hopefully inspire you to fill it with your favorite dried fruit, nuts, herbs, cheese, etc. Enjoy!

2 8-oz top sirloin steaks
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp chopped raisins or whole currants
2 tbsp any fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, etc.)
1 egg
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Keeping it Real with Nina Planck

This is food writer Nina Planck talking about her book, Real Food, in which she makes the case for real food. She basically has the same general philosophy about eating as I do; eat when you're hungry, and eat what you feel like eating - as long as it's real, freshly cooked, unprocessed food. Pretty simple, but it does require you to have some basic cooking skills. Good thing you read this blog religiously.

The other cool thing about Nina, is she used to be a vegan, but came back over to our team! Go fightin' omnivores, go! If you are interested in the book, click on the photo and check it out over on Amazon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Faceless Man with Fake Old West Accent Barbecues Bologna in the Snow

I was surfing the web looking for a great barbecue video recipe to post in celebration of the start of summer, when I came across this. While it is probably bad form to goof on a fellow food blogger, I can’t help it. If David Lynch and his Grandpa ever made a cooking video, this is probably what it would look and sound like.

I don't even know where to start. This clip has it all - an affectatious voiceover, creepy rubber gloves, matching serial killer knife, a giant bologna (I really hope it's
bologna), a quasi-porn soundtrack, and…snow? Having said all that, it actually looks kind of good, and I would have totally enjoyed sharing one of those sandwiches he makes at the end of the clip. Hey, is that a wood chipper over there?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Walnut and Garlic Pesto Pasta - You're Nuts If You Think There's Only One Kind of Pesto

While you may only be familiar with one kind, pesto is a very generic term that simply refers to any sauce that is made by pounding or grinding the ingredients, usually with a mortar and pestle. In fact, the word "pesto" comes from the Italian word for "pound." While the garlic and oil base is a constant, there are many variations using different combinations of herbs and nuts.

This extremely simple version uses fresh garden herbs, garlic and walnuts for a delicious, albeit plain looking bowl of pasta. As you hear me say in the video recipe, not everything has to be colorful, to be good. This is about as unimpressive looking plate of food as I have ever put to film, but it should be appreciated for what it is - a simple, rustic, nutty, garlicky, tangle of goodness. Enjoy!

12 oz dry spaghetti
1/2 cup mixed fresh Italian herbs - basil, oregano, mint, tarragon, parsley, etc.
6 cloves garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
hot pepper flakes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Seasonal Vegetable Couscous - Do as I Say, Not as I Did

This video recipe for a vegetable couscous shows you a wonderfully simple method for enjoying all those delicious seasonal veggies that can be found at your local farmer's market. The irony here is that this video was shot quite a while ago, and features such ubiquitous supermarket produce as "so-not-local" green zucchini and bell peppers.

This recipe was filmed for last year, and is just now going live. Unfortunately, at the time a trip to farmer's market wasn't possible, and so a two-block walk to the local megamart had to do. That's not to say that this dish wasn't good, it was very good. It's just when I watch it now I'm imagining how awesome it could have been with some "real" vegetables (you know, like the ones grown in dirt, instead of hydroponic foam!). Enjoy!

Click here for ingredients and transcript

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In Memoriam:

It was the premiere photographic food porn gallery on the Internet. Many of you probably found this site by clicking on a photo linked to one of my videos. It was a place where the hardest, of the hardcore foodies went to see, and be seen. And now, it's gone.

I've posted the austere note that now inhabits the homepage once filled with the most beautiful food on the web. Why anyone would threaten legal action on such a sight is beyond comprehension. I'm sure photos were posted without permission, but since the photos all linked back to the website they were from, so what?

If anyone knows anything about this situation, please comment. If anyone knows of plans to start another tastespotting-esque site, please let me know. The foodiesphere has lost a great friend.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm Moving to France!

I'm not moving to France...yet. Every four years, around election time, some celebrity will inform the nation (even though nobody asked them) that if a certain somebody wins the election they are moving to France. To which I say, "Bon voyage, and say hi to Johnny Depp for me."

If I ever get so fed up with America that I decide to move to France, it won't be for political reasons, it will be for the crepes. This video of an egg, cheese, and ham crepe shows the stunning (and embarrassing) difference between our fast food, and theirs.

Next time you queue up (that's how they say "line up" over there) for one of those limp, warmed over, drive-thru breakfast wraps, ask yourself why can't we have this instead?

photo (c) Flickr user Al Ianni

Friday, June 13, 2008

You Don't Have to Be a Cheese Whiz to Make Your Own Fromage Blanc

Usually making something like fresh cheese at home is done because it's higher quality, and much cheaper. Today's video recipe for making Fromage Blanc, or Farmer's Cheese, flies in the face of that conventional culinary wisdom.

If you consider the fact you need to buy a package of cheesecloth, along with the dairy ingredients, the cost of your cheese is no less expensive than at the store. And, while the results of your homemade cheese adventure will be rich, creamy, and delicious, there are some fantastic brands of fresh cheese available in the better markets, so it's hard to argue that our version will be "better."

So, why bother? Because, for any self-respecting foodie, making a batch of homemade cheese is definitely on the culinary "bucket list." Before you cash in your apron for good, you should experience the magic of watching a pot of milk turned into cheese. And if all this sounds kind of cheesy, so be it. Enjoy!

1 quart fresh, local whole milk
1 cup active-culture buttermilk
2 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar, more if needed
3/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Thursday, June 12, 2008

REPEAT: Orzo “Risotto” with Chicken, Sausage and Peppers

This video recipe premiered a long time ago, and I'm not sure how many of you newer viewers have seen it, so I thought it would make a great rerun. I'm working on the homemade cheese video, which should be up soon. In the meantime, enjoy this great recipe.

Orzo (also known as melon seed pasta) is one of my favorite choices for pasta salad. I really like the shape and texture, and it makes for a very interesting cold sidedish. Here, I had the idea of using it for a hot dish in the same way one would use an Arborio rice to make risotto. Instead of boiling the orzo in salted water and draining, I thought it would be interesting to cook it the same way risotto is cooked, by adding small additions of fla
vorful stock until it’s tender (or al dente if you prefer). I made that flavorful stock by braising chicken and sausage, as you’ll see.

This dish is really all over the place; most of the ingredients are kind of Spanish/Portuguese, there are techniques from India and Italy involved, and just to make things even stranger, I use a chili pepper usually found only in Mexican cuisine. But, none of that matters, this dish tastes great and is pretty easy to make. The other good thing is, whoever you serve this to probably hasn’t had it before, so no matter how it comes out you can always say, “yeah, that’s how it’s suppose to be!”

I’ve had many requests for a risotto demo. The reason I haven’t done one is because who wants to watch someone stand at a stove and stir a pot of rice? Well, I tried to edit this to make it somewhat bearable, but the basic technique is the same; slowly adding stock and stirring until its almost absorbed and then adding more. This is a dish that will be great the first time you make it, and REALLY great the second time you make it, as you get the technique down. My orzo took about 15-20 minutes to absorb enough stock to become tender – but that’s just a very rough guide since there are so many factors; the heat, size of your orzo, shape of pot, etc. Be brave and enjoy yourself…you're cooking!

By the way, I didn’t mention it in the clip, but I removed the skin and bones from the chicken thighs once they were cool enough to handle, before I added them back into the final dish. Also, this is one of the VERY rare dishes I didn’t add garlic to. The sausage I used had a lot of garlic in it so I didn’t think it was needed. Enjoy.

1/2 pound orzo pasta
6 chicken thighs (seasoned with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper)
1 lb. Linguisa sausage (or any spicy sausage)
1 quart chicken stock
1 red bell pepper
1 green Pasilla or bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1 tbl paprika
1 tbl cumin
1 tbl Herb de Provence
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
fresh parsley

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

This is a cheese plate featuring some amazing homemade fromage blanc, with a little olive oil, black pepper and chive. I will be doing a demo of this easy recipe soon - consider yourselves teased.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Got Crepes? Make Chicken Cannelloni!

As promised, here is what I did with the crepes from the "how to make crepes" video recipe. These thin, almost transparent beauties (crepes are the supermodels of the pancake world) freeze wonderfully. I took them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge to thaw overnight, since the only issue you may have is thawing them too quickly in a hot kitchen may cause the edges to dry out a bit.

I was going to do a video recipe of some dessert crepe like cr
epe Suzette, or maybe crepe cherry jubilee, but since bathing suit season is right around the corner, I decided to do a savory recipe. Dessert crepes are delicious, but not recommended when you're trying to squeeze into a Speedo.

This very simple chicken cannelloni recipe can be made with a variety of meats, cheeses (but use real ones, like the Parmesan shown here) and sauces, so watch the technique and then freestyle. By the way, before you ask, the difference between a cannelloni and a manicotti, is the later is an open tube of pasta, and a cannelloni is normally closed up as you see here. Many restaurants, however, use the terms interchangeably. I sure hope you make some crepes, and then give these a try. Enjoy!

6 crepes
2 cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fresh cheese
4 oz mozzarella
1 egg
2/3 cup grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh Italian herbs
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
splash of olive oil
1 minced garlic clove (my sauce had lots of garlic, so this was not added in the clip)
2 cups tomato sauce

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Last Night We Had a Little Lamb

Once in a while, even though I know it would make a great video, I just can't bring myself to film a meal. Making a video can turn the most enjoyable recipe into a tiring tangle of timers, wires, and angles. I'm forced to use a part of the brain that's in charge of "getting the shot," and artistic expression be damned.

Last night was one of those meals. It was truly delicious, and while I didn't film it, guilt forced me to at least photo it, in hopes of inspiring you next time you're trying to decide what to throw on the grill.

Lamb loins were marinated in garlic, fennel seed, and rosemary. A few hours later, they were grilled over charcoal, to a perfectly rosy medium-rare. Finger-sized carrots were roasted tender in a slow oven with a few drips of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of brown sugar. Split pita bread was filled with fresh mozzarella, and a squeeze of harissa (a spicy North African tomato/chili sauce). These "hot pockets" were grilled over the coals, while the lamb was resting. The slightly crisp, and smoky exterior was a perfect envelope for the warm, gooey cheese. The cold sauce was a simple plain Greek yogurt, spiked with more harissa, lemon, and fresh mint. Enjoy!

Happy 40th Birthday Tom!

Happy birthday wishes for my brother-in-law Tom. He turns 40 today, which I just can't beleive. He looks so much older than that. I'm just kidding, he doesn't look a day over 38. Tom's a great cook in his own right (grilling a specialty), in addition to being an all-around good guy. Hey, he's Italian, and from Jersey, come on. Tom, I hope you and Nina had a nice day, and that there are many, many more to come. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I'll Have the Sausage and Chicken Gumbo…Hold the Gumbo

My "Big Easy" cooking kick continues with this delicious sausage and chicken gumbo video recipe. Now, I must admit to serious okra aversion issues. I don’t like the taste, the texture, or the appearance - other than that I think it's a great vegetable. So, you can imagine what I felt like when I learned that the word "gumbo" actually means "okra."

Many people believe that okra is the primary thickening agent in gumbo, but in actuality it's the roux. Sure, the okra does help thicken the stew with its slimy goodness, but it's the brown roux that is the main player. Some recipes call for file powder, which is made from ground sassafras leaves. It's added at the end of the cooking, and not only helps thicken, but adds a interestingly sweet flavor. I'm not using that either.

As a special treat, you'll also hear from famous New Orleans chef, Emeril Lagasse. Apparently, he is a big fan of the site, and his people called my people, and begged me to let him provide some color commentary on a video. Aw, yeah babe. Enjoy!

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
8 oz Andouille sausage, or other spicy, smoked sausage
3 cloves garlic, crushed fine
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups chicken broth, or as needed
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup minced green onions
Okra photo (c) Flickr user Kanko

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spicy Shrimp Etouffee - If You're Texting the Recipe Just Enter "A2FEY"

For whatever reason, I've recently been on a Cajun/Creole cooking kick. Here's the finished shrimp etouffee video recipe I promised last week, and man, was it good! Etouffee is one of New Orleans' most famous dishes - it's spicy (or can be), aromatic, brightly flavored, and very comforting, all at the same time.

Etouffee comes from the French word for "smothered," and I would describe the dish as a rich, shrimp gravy served with rice. In general, Creole cooking is not that common for the average home cook. I think, from a distance, it may look like Creole cooking is fairly complicated. While some recipes do have lots of steps, most of the classics, like this shrimp etouffee, are quite simple to make.

Speaking of famous New Orleans recipes, folks in my age group may remember with some amusement, the blackened redfish craze from the early eighties. Chef Paul Prudhomme, of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, introduced America to that old Cajun favorite, blackened fish. It was later discovered it wasn't even a Cajun recipe, but that's a chef for you - we never let the facts get in the way of a great story.

This was a smoke alarm's dream recipe. Blackened redfish is basically a fillet covered in spicy dry rub, and seared on a red-hot cast iron pan. This is a great recipe when made under a massive restaurant exhaust fan. At home, it produced copious amount of smoke, which forced many a chef outdoors. Anyway, enjoy the video and be sure to give this easy, and smoke-free, recipe a try!
Click here for ingredients and transcript

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Instead of Beating Them - Join Them and Make Cheese

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love cheese. When I was growing up there were only a few choices, the ubiquitous orange, plastic-wrapped squares, maybe a slice of swiss, and grated Parmesan cheese. That was pretty much it. Thankfully, America's commercial cheese options have exploded over the last few decades, and now even modestly-sized grocery stores will have dozen of choices, including some artisan offerings.

The wine and cheese pairing video below is from a new website, sponsored by Sargento, called the Artisan Cheese Center. They just added a link to this blog, and I have used a few of their recipes for my American Food site. In the bad old days, a company like Sargento would have tried to prevent small artisan cheese makers from competing with them for store space.

Today, with these handcrafted cheeses gaining a foothold in the market, Sargento has seen the wisdom of joining forces, and now features a series of what they call "Artisan Blends," produced cooperatively with these smaller cheese makers. Let's hope this trend continues!

Photo (c) Flickr user cwbuecheler

Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Make Crepes - Even the Messed-Up Ones Will Be Perfect!

With a blog name like Food Wishes, and a closing video credit that asks, "what is your food wish?" - I do get lots of requests for video recipes. Probably the most common request that I hadn't done yet was for a "how to make crepes" video. Well, today is the day.

I've never understood the fear and mystery that surrounds t
his thin round of ground flour, milk, and egg. It's one of the first things you make in culinary school (that works), and probably the first French recipe one commits to memory. It does take a few practice crepes to get a feel for the pan and heat, but once you have a couple successfully finished, you are set for life.

By the way, forget those scenes in movies, and TV, where the "chef" is flipping them in the air to turn them. This is all for show. Just use a spatula and turn them over - sort of like a toasted cheese sandwich. Also, stop being a perfectionist in the kitchen; you'll have more fun. I know you; if you try these you want them to be perfectly round, perfectly thin, and perfectly colored. Relax, Martha.

Perfect rarely happens in the kitchen - before the food is plated, at least. The most imperfectly shaped crepe once folded up with jam, fried in butter, and eaten with ice cream, is always perfect. As I say in the video, this is just the first step. I will do another demo on what to do with these perfect crepes soon. Stay tuned, and enjoy!

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt