Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pittsburgh vs. Arizona in the Super Bowl (of "Killer" Sandwiches)

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, and I think I can speak for all New York Giants fans when I say, "who the [expletive deleted] cares?" So, pardon me if this post is a little negative, but I just can’t get up for this second-rate match-up. By the way, thanks Eagles - you beat the Giants and then lose to the Cardinals? Yo, Philly, are you [expletive deleted] kidding me?

But, I wouldn’t be doing my food journalist duties if I ignored the game completely, so I present below a video battle between the most famous sandwich places from each local. You be the judge as to which spot takes the trophy for gastronomical insanity.

First we have Primanti Brother, a Pittsburgh icon famous for huge sandwiches filled with meat, cheese, coleslaw, and…fries! That's right, they put the fries in the middle of the sandwich. This ensures they are extra greasy and soggy. This place has my vote for "worst sandwich in America." What's wrong with you people? It must be all that rust that's seeped into the drinking water.

Next we have the Heart Attack Grill, a hamburger restaurant in Chandler, Arizona. Its claims to fame are unbelievably high-calorie items like the "Triple-Bypass Burger," served by waitresses called, "nurses," who take orders called "prescriptions" from the "patients."

I can’t rip this place too much, because compared to the national embarrassment that is Hooters (worst uniform ever - the only person those shorts have ever looked good on is Rick Barry), this place actually sounds kind of fun. I especially like the wheelchair rides back to your car.

Anyway, enjoy this
[expletive deleted] Super Bowl match-up. If you are hosting a party, I hope your wings, chili, and meat muffins come out nicely. Now, I've seen both these videos already, so I declare that my winner is…Lipitor! Enjoy.

Pittsburgh: Home of America's Worst Sandwich

Arizona: Home of an Exploitative Burger Place Slightly Less Moronic than Hooters

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kernel Porker's Barbecued Pork-Stuffed Corn Muffins

One of the comments I received on YouTube, for the beef slider video recipe said, "When I saw you put the meat into the muffins cups, I was hoping you were making some kind of meat muffins." My first thought was, "Have another bong hit." My second thought was, "Actually, I could go for a nice meat muffin." So, down to my secret lab I went.

A few hours and several adult beverages later, I was starring at a plate of barbecue pork stuffed corn muffins. This new American class
ic - part Chinese pork bun, part corndog - looked good, tasted great, and felt oh-so-right in my hand.

Not only did the warm muffin feel good, but also I was eating cornbread with barbecue pork and my fingers were absolutely spotless! Hundreds of years from now, I believe this will be considered the true genius of the recipe.

By the way, I can’t take credit for the brilliant "Kernel Porker" name. I posted this recipe on and asked for some name suggestions from the other guides. The working title, "Memphis Meat Muffins" was a bit too disturbing, and sounded more like a Southern punk rock band.

My friend Barbara Rolek, About's Eastern European Food Guide, submitted this title. If you are ever looking for recipes from that part of the world, check out her great site. Also, if you can't find Jiffy, here is a cornbread recipe video. Enjoy!

1 cup chopped barbecued pork
1 box (8.5-ounce) Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded pepper Jack, or cheddar cheese
non-stick vegetable oil spray
8 paper baking cups

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spicy White Bean and Chicken Chili - A White Chili to Battle the Winter Blues

This white chili video recipe was inspired by a cup of spicy chicken and white bean soup I had during my recent trip back east.

love chilis (yes, that's how you spell it) of all shades and spices. While beef is most familiar to my chili kettle, pork, turkey, and even lamb do make the occasional appearance. But, what about chicken?

I rarely think of using chicken, so I was glad that cup of soup came along to remind me how great a chili, chicken can make - if you stay away from the horrible ground stuff. For
me, chicken makes for a very poor ground meat. It's too lean, too dry, too chalky, and too "I wish this was ground chuck."
The key here is chicken thighs - moist, shapely, boneless-skinless chicken thighs. The difference they make in taste and texture is significant.

By the way, don't s
ubstitute chicken breasts. In my opinion, the small amount of fat savings are not worth the step-down in flavor. Enjoy!


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thigh, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
1 red bell pepper, s
eeded, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, diced
1 can (10-ounce) diced tomato with green chilies
4 cups chicken broth
2 (15 ounce) great northern, or navy beans, drained
chopped fresh cilantro to garnish, optional

Other Super Cool Chili Recipes:

Spicy Three-Bean Chili
Chicken Chili Verde
Turkey Chili

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Beef Sliders - Insulting Your Intelligence 2-Ounces at a Time

I filmed this video recipe for beef sliders with no real intention of editing and posting the results (which explains the yellow buns). Sometimes I'll just turn the camera on, not worry about shadows, angles, quality, etc., and just cook. I felt like some sliders, and if a postable recipe was the result, so be it.

As I worked, I couldn’t help but wonder how a "how to make little hamburgers" video recipe would come off. I'm always afraid of going over that fine line between humorously helpful and
annoyingly condescending… "Now we're going to cut the buns in half…see that…through the middle of the bun…I like to use a knife."But, as seemingly obvious as making little burgers may be, I realized there are two main challenges in the slider process. Forming the burgers, and consistently cooking them to the desired doneness. To achieve both I used a muffin tin to shape the burgers, and since they are exactly the same size and shape, they will always cook evenly according to your specific time.

I like mine medium-rare, so I did 3 minutes per side in a nice hot pan. As usual with all burgers, resting is imperative. Your times will vary, depending on fat %, pan used, and heat, but after a couple test sliders you'll know exactly how many minutes per side for the perfect petite haché de boeuf. I would explain the physics, but I'm sure you wouldn’t understand it. Enjoy!

Secret Sauce Ingredients:
2 parts mayo
1 part ketchup
1 part mustard
1 part relish

Approximate cooking times:
3 minutes per side: rare to med-rare
minutes per side: medium
minutes per side: med-well to well

View the complete recipe

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Celebrity Chef! Right, Mommy?

I received a link recently to an article from The Oregonian, written by Casey Parks, about a five-year-old named Julian Kreusser who has his own cooking show on an Oregon public broadcasting network. As I read about "Chef" Julian, I became intrigued and decided to watch a few of his shows.

Normally, I wouldn’t care about some cute kid making cooking videos with his parents,
which there are probably hundreds on YouTube, but why this kid's show has me so interested, and disturbed, is it's being packaged as an actual cooking show, with the kid as some sort of culinary savant. I have a feeling there's more here than meets the eye.

The driving forces behind "The Big Kitchen with Food" seem to be Julian's parents, and Portland Community Media, which airs the show starring the young, slightly confused chef. After watching the clip, I couldn't help but question some of their claims and quotes from the article. It all seemed a little "hoaxy" to me.

"He actually understands what he's doing. He's not just following orders," claims executive director Sylvia McDanie. She says the viewer's love him, and adds, "It has potential to be a national program." Has she seen the show?

"It's great that he gets to do what he wants to do," says his mom, Kristen McKee. "We want him to do what's in his heart, to follow his interests." Isn’t that what those beauty pageant moms always say?

The parents claim the recipes, as well
as the theme song are all Julian's ideas. Even though his father admits he used some connections to help get the show on the air (thanks, I thought he may have put on a little suit, took a cab to the station, and pitched them the show on a milk crate), he insists Julian came up with the concept. Really? "We are just enablers," says his dad, Ben Kreusser. That's one word for it.

It may not come as a huge surprise that along with all this adult "guidance," Julian is also home-schooled, or as it's referred to in the article, "unschooled." Apparently this is some type of home schooling where the child decides what they want to learn. Julian is quoted saying, "So everything I see, I can learn about." Well, isn't that convenient. Must make scheduling the show's filming a breeze.

I've posted a video of Chef J below, making some "tomato sauce without tomato paste," and after watching it, all 13 agonizing minutes of it (the "cute" wears off after about 45 seconds), I would love to hear your thoughts. By the way, the viewer comments I read on Yumsugar, where this same video was also shown, weren't very kind.

There are several moments in the video when Julian doesn't even seen to remember what he's making (even though he "created" the recipe himself). He also struggles with the tools - instead of being cute, the sight of him trying to use the vegetable chopper was kind of sad. Then, the camera cuts away, and wha la! The veggies are cut and it's on to the next step. Thanks, Mommy.

Anyway, you be the judge. Maybe I'm being too suspicious. Maybe he isn’t being manipulated and exploited by parents that want the celebrity they believe will come with star chefdom. Maybe the fine folks at Portland Community Media don't have any ulterior motives. Maybe I should pick on someone my own size?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Foodwishers Ciabatta Success Stories

The first photo is from Silvia who said, "I made your no knead ciabatta bread and loved it. It turned out really nice and the flavor was so much better than shop bread. It's so easy to make that we will have fresh ciabatta bread all the time now!"

The second loaf is from "first time bread maker" who said, " What a mess I've got going here! My raw loaf looks like a patched wall. While it's "resting" during these next the two hours, I'm hoping it heals itself so the patched marks aren't so evident, and although it's before noon, I think I'll have a glass of wine. I'm a nervous wreck. (more of my disastrous results to follow...) Maybe I'll send you a picture of the results. Maybe not.

The last loaf is from Calvin who said, "I am absolutely happy with its outcome. I did have a water plate in the oven and spray some water at the beginning of baking. Somehow, mine only took about 30 minutes and I have to keep lowering the temp a bit.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

At Last: Big News about a Small School in Sonoma!

I will have more info within a few weeks, but I believe I have finally found a location for teaching and filming my culinary school course! It's in Petaluma, California, about 45 minutes north of San Francisco, and home to Aaron Jonas Catering.

Aaron is a friend who used to work with Michele, teaching classes at Viking Home Chef. Many years later, Aaron's sister, Josette, married Michele's brother Kenny. Small world, but I digress. Yesterday I drove up to check out his school and was very impressed. He's got a great space, and has done a beautiful job setting it up for his catering company, as well as his cooking classes.

I put together a very quick slideshow of the space to give you a sneak peek. Stay tuned for more exciting news, especially if you're located in northern California. For more info on Aaron Jonas Catering, and his cooking classes (which are getting rave reviews, by the way) you can contact him at (415) 846-9565, or check out the website at

I'm headed off to the gym to start getting in shape for the cameras; you know they add 10 pounds. Also, does anyone know if they still sell that hair spray paint for covering up bald spots? Enjoy the photos!

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Sweet and Hot Mustard-Glazed Chicken Wings for a Buffalo-Free Super Bowl

We know the game will be Buffalo-free, but if your as burned-out on the basic Buffalo-style chicken wing recipe as I am, then this video recipe's for you.

The simple technique is the same as any oven-fried chicken wings, but the hot, sweet, mustardy glaze is a very welcomed change of pace from Frank, and his ubiquitous hot sauce.

Not that you should be thinking of your waistline at a super bowl party, but this recipe also avoids the stick of melted butter found in the Anchor B
ar's classic recipe. The secret here is not one, but two kinds of mustard.

That's right, I hope you're sitting down - I use Dijon and yellow mustard in the same recipe - now that's a true culinary rebel. I can't think of a more unusual combination since, um…Buffalo chicken wings and blue cheese dressing. Enjoy!

2 pounds wings, separated into 2 pieces each
2 tbsp Dijon
2 tbsp yellow mustard
3 tbsp honey
2 tsp cider vinegar
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp hot sauce, or to taste

* Please help support free video recipes, and visit my new sponsor, MOZO Shoes. Find out why chefs (like me) are buzzing about their great shoes!

He Tells of Michele's Seashells with Sicilian Sausage by the Sea Shore

I just had to post this picture of a pasta Michele made for her sick chef a couple nights ago. I get emails once in a while asking if and what Michele cooks and why don’t I film her.

She does cook - when she can get in the kitchen, which I'm usually occupying. I would film her, but her rates are very high and we haven't been able to agree on a price.

It's a super simple recipe, which goes as follows; sauté sausage meat until brown, add some garlic and sauté in the fat for a couple minutes. Throw in a bunch of broccoli rabe, some pepper flakes, and enough chicken stock to cover.

Simmer until the broccoli rabe is tender. Boil shells and add to the sauce with a splash of good olive oil and a handful of real Pecorino Romano cheese. Yes, I will be filming this someday.

Monday, January 19, 2009

No-Knead Ciabatta - Bread You Can Believe In

Okay, enough with the inaugural tie-ins. Here's the promised ciabatta video recipe. It came out beyond delicious. It was other-worldly, sublime, ethereal, and several other adjectives I would have to look up before using.

It was the perfect marriage of a crisp, light crust outside, and a chewy, yet tender inside. The no-knead part is just a bonus, and only adds to the perfection of this loaf.
As you'll hear in the video, I'm a bit under the weather, but even at half-speed this was a simple and enjoyable task.

All I will say is you really need to make this bread. Pretty soon we'll be thinking of romantic, sexy recipes to seduce our Valentines with. Keep this video in mind, for what could be better than having someone bake you a fresh loaf of Italian bread, then slowly buttering and feeding you a still warm slice?

Sorry, I think I took too much cough medicine. Enjoy!

4 cups bread flour (I used 3 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup wheat)
*Note: you can use All-purpose flour if you want
1/4 tsp yeast
2 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Celebrate the Inauguration with Iconic Posters

Peggy sent me a link to a site called obamiconme, where you can do a version of Shepard Fairey's now famous Obama poster. It's kind of fun play around with. Here's the original (on the left, in case you weren't sure), one of me, one of Michele and me, and our cat Nigella. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cassoulet - More than Just the Greatest Baked Beans Recipe Ever

I have several unpublished blog posts about my picks of the world's all-time top-ten recipes. The reason none have gone live yet is I can never settle on just ten, so I put it away and write something easier. While I may not be able to provide a final list yet, one recipe that will always be in my top ten is cassoulet.

This video recipe for cassoulet shows my version of the iconic French classic (it’s so delicious I meant for that to be redundant). Like America's mac and cheese, Spain's paella, and Italy's lasagna, this Frenc
h baked bean and meat masterpiece has earned its rightful place in the pantheon of one-dish wonders.

There are hundreds of variations, but the basic formula is always the same; tender white beans, aromatic vegetables, flavorful broth, and fatty meats, all baked under a divinely crisp, garlicky, breadcrumb crust. As you'll see, this topping is usually built in two stages - the first a moist liaison between cassoulet and crust, and the second a crisp golden-brown climax to the world's sexiest casserole. Enjoy!

Note: I've linked to this duck confit recipe video I did a while ago, but most high-end markets sell, or can get duck confit already cooked and ready to use. I actually got mine at Costco.

Also, the panko breadcrumbs, which work so well for this, are now found in the Asian section of every major grocery chain. If you can't find them use plain fresh white breadcrumbs.


For the beans:
1 pound great northern beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 onion
1 whole clove
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
10 cups water

For the rest:
1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tsp herb de Provence (or other dried herb blend)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 pound pork sausage
1 pound cooked duck confit

For the topping:
1/4 cup butter
4 cloves, crushed garlic
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil

Friday, January 16, 2009

Back in San Fran, and it's Ketchup Time!

Okay, so you know I'm busy when I resort to headlines as crappy as this one! By the way, that's suppose to be a ketchup swan. We had a fun week despite the cold snap, and our plane made it back to the City without any geese-related issues.

I've only answered a small portion of the built up email, and have plenty of writing to catch up on for, as well as this blog of course. If I've ignored any of your emails or comments (this includes friends and relatives), I will get to you eventually, so thanks for your patience.

Not sure exactly when the next new video recipe will be posted, but it should be soon! Until then, stay warm, and no matter what you are doing, enjoy!

Photo (c) Flickr user schoschie

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flying Home with a Head Full of Ideas

We'll be back late Thursday, and I can't wait! Not because I want to get away from my family or the bitter cold (by the way, thanks for all those warm weather updates), but because I can't wait to grab my video camera and start filming some of the recipes we enjoyed during our stay.

First up; an amazingly easy and incredibly good no-knead ciabatta bread.

Photo (c) Flickr user Willie Lunchmeat

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Successful Ciabatta Experiment?

Ciabatta bread, which according to Wikipedia literally means, "carpet slipper," (as opposed to hardwood floor slipper) is one of my favorite breads. I've wanted to try a loaf using our no-knead dough and I think it worked. I made an extra wet and sticky batch of dough and here you can see the before and after photos. I will reserve final judgment until slicing however. More later.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sloppy Giuseppe - The Silent Movie Version

I just found some footage shot after the Pork and Beans and Greens video recipe, which shows how I used some of the leftover spice-rubbed pork shoulder to make a delicious Italian version of the venerable Sloppy Joe. Of course, I had to call it a Sloppy Giuseppe.

I'm still in New York and since I didn't bring proper recording equipment, I'll do the narration for this when I get back. I hate how the mic on the laptop sounds, so in the meantime I decided to post a silent movie version complete with classic silent movie soundtrack. Enjoy!

no-knead dough made into rolls
cooked spice-rubbed pork shoulder, chopped
hot pepper flakes, to taste
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
tomato sauce as needed
splash of water

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Another "Chef John is Traveling" Rerun: Cabbage Rolls a Mother Knows Best

Hello from freezing western New York. It looks like I'm probably not going to have time or the opportunity to film any video recipes while I'm here, but here is a winter classic that I'm posting along with an important update to the procedure.

My mother had some amazing cabbage rolls waiting for Michele and me upon our arrival. As we ate I could tell by the look in my wife's eyes she was thinking, "yours are good, but these are better." When you've been together as long as we have, you can actually read each others minds.

After a brief conversation it was discovered that while I use the same ingredients as mom, she cooks hers an additional hour. This explained the extra tender filling, and even sweeter, more tender cabbage. So, here is my cabbage roll recipe video (inspired by my Aunt's recipe - you can read that original post here, and get the ingredients) and as you watch please take note the cooking time is not 2, but 3 hours. Thanks mom. Enjoy!

Update to the Update! After further discussions with my mother, and my aunt who I credited with the recipe, it seems that I'm using several ingredients not officially sanctioned by the family elders. Apparently they don't use Parmesan or egg in the mixture, and it been "suggested" that if I continue using those ingredients I should stop telling people it's their recipe!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

En Route ReRun - Potato and Cauliflower Mash

I will be posting from New York as soon as possible, but in the meantime here is a random video recipe rerun for your viewing pleasure.

This is from one year ago, and stars potatoes and cauliflower in a timeless love story. People said they shouldn't be together, that they came from two (too?) different backgrounds and starch contents, but in the end their love overcomes. Who can forget the scene when the cauliflower says to the potato, "I knew we'd be great together ever since the first time I looked in your eyes."

This should fit in well with all your various New Years "eat lighter" resolutions. I'm not saying you won't stick with it, but you may want to try these soon just in case. Enjoy!

Click here for the original post.

Photo (c) geishaboy500

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Tease, a Taste, and a Trip Home

Michele and I are traveling to New York State to see my family, including my mom Pauline (you may remember her from such video recipes as "Key Lime Pie").

As usual I'll try and post from the road, and hopefully share a few photos (videos?) of what
ever family feasts ensue.

These photos are a tease to some video recipes I plan on filming when I get back to San Francisco. These were taken last night during a dinner with cousin Tony and Nora (you may remember them from such posts as "The "Found on Foodbuzz" 24-Item Tasting Menu").

Pictured here (at night with annoying flash lighting): a new salmon technique I think I've perfected, salmon filet tied with salmon belly; whole-wheat flatbread; and individual apple "tart tartin" with ginger snap crust.

Finally, a little taste of something many of you have asked for… written recipes!!!

Thanks to a new venture by a loyal viewer, we could soon have transcripts for all my original recipe videos. I'm not sure exactly how they will be distributed yet, but stay tuned for details to follow! Enjoy!

Click her for a sample recipe transcript for: Thai-Style Beef Stew PDF

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Butterless Bearnaise Sauce Recipe - Impossible and Delicious

I had some leftover prime rib sizzling on the grill, and was trying to think of which condiment to serve with it. The "jus" was long gone, and none of the other usual suspects - aioli, ketchup, secret sauce - were moving me. What I really wanted was a nice dollop of béarnaise.

Béarnaise is a classic French sauce made with egg yolks, shallots, tarragon, a vinegar reduction, and lots of melted butter emulsified into it. Made correctly it is heaven in sauce form. The pr
oblem is you don't make béarnaise for one, and while I wanted the flavor of béarnaise, I didn't necessarily want a heavy butter-laden lunch.

So, I decided to make it without butter. There is no reason this should have been edible, but I was surprised at how good it turned out. I've used the "sabayon" technique before, which is simply whisking a liquid with egg yolks over heat until hot and frothy.

I skipped the shallots since I was about fives away from sauce-less beef, and got to work. My secret weapon was tangy, acidic tarragon Dijon. One of my favorite ingredients, it work like a charm. Several whisk-filled moments later I was enjoying a passable butterless version of béarnaise.

Disclaimer: There is no substitute for butter (if you said, "What about margarine?" then we really need to talk). If you dip into this expecting to taste classic buttery béarnaise you may be in for a slight letdown. Regardless, it was a delicious, light, and very béarnaise-esqe sauce for my meat. Enjoy!

2 egg yolks
2 tsp tarragon mustard
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 tsp white wine vinegar

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