Saturday, October 31, 2009

Choosing Pizza Over Immortality - The Part of Being a Vampire that Really Sucks

This was posted last year, just as vampire mania had started to sweep across America. Since it's Halloween I thought I would re-post it, along with the poll that asked if you'd give up food for immortality.

I think the results are fascinating! I know people love food, but we're talking about immortality. How did you vote?

The original post from 10/9/08 follows:

Those of you still able to afford HBO may be familiar with the new series, True Blood. It's an entertaining tongue-in-cheek, fangs-in-neck series about vampires and their attempt to assimilate into mainstream society. I guess I should state that this is a fictional show, just in case.

I was watching an episode recently and one of the vampires said something that sent a cold chill through my soul. Vampires don't eat food. Everyone knows they have to drink blood to survive, but did you know that they don't eat anything else? Think about it, would the kinky sex, great strength, immortality, and killer dental plan, be enough to give up eating food forever?

So here is a little Halloween poll: If you had to choose between a normal human life, and life as a vampire (able to live forever, but unable to eat and enjoy food), which would you chose?

Which lifestyle would you choose?
I would stay a human. I know I would die someday, but I really like nachos.
I would become a vampire and live forever without eating food again. I'm not that great a cook anyway.
Free polls from

Photo (c) Flickr user *davierae*

Friday, October 30, 2009

Making the World a Better Place, One Chicken Wing at a Time

I could never work at Hooters. Not because of my hairy legs, or my just slightly too-small boobs, but because I couldn't bear to watch people eat all those chicken wings. It's not a problem with what they're eating, but rather how they're eating them.

Chicken wings come in two parts: the "drumette" and the "flat." There's only one way to eat the drumette part, and I have no issue with that, but it's watching people eat the flat part of the wing that makes me crazy.

People sort of gnaw around it, nibbling tiny pieces of meat off the two thin bones, and then trying to suck the remaining flesh from in between. It's not pretty. Not only do I find this esthetically unpleasant, but practically speaking, it's a terribly inefficient way to go.

This short video is from the end of a pastrami-rubbed chicken wings recipe I'm currently editing. I decided enough was enough, and that I needed to share my patented flat wing eating technique. This method ensures that 100% of the meat will be captured, and as you'll see, it looks really cool when you dip the perfectly boneless wings into the sauce.

Anyway, the new recipe will be up soon, and when it is I expect you to master this method no matter how many batches it takes! Enjoy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Only 28 Shopping Days Until Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us, and with it the annual anxiety of what to cook, and how to cook it.

I'll be doing my part to help by posting and reposting any and all holiday video recipes from my extensive library, as well as filming new ones.

Thanksgiving shouldn't be dominated by long, stressful hours in the kitchen. Your menu should never get in the way of what the holidays should really be about; drinking too much and telling your relatives what you really think of them.

If you have a particular holiday recipe you really want to see, please comment here and I'll see what I can do. Thanks, and stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Q: How do you like them apples? A: They're alright, but I wish they looked like swans.

This very quick and completely useless apple swan video is a little tease for a demo I'm producing for That upcoming version will be much slower and include step-by-step instructions. I know some of you won't wait, and will give this a try, so here's some advice: have band-aids nearby.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dark Chocolate Macarons with Bittersweet Ancho Chili Ganache from ChezUs

I've had more than a couple email requests for a macarons recipe, but I just haven't been able to do one yet.

In the meantime, it's my pleasure to bring you this fantastic recipe from my friend Denise at ChezUs, for dark chocolate macarons with bittersweet ancho chili ganache.

This was her entry in something called the Daring Bakers’ challenge, which you can read all about on her blog. You'll also find lots of yummy photos and the complete recipe should you decide to attempt these without the security blanket of a video nearby. Enjoy!

Note: not sure if you've noticed, but I've put a measurements converter widget down on the sidebar. Parts of Denise's recipe are in Metric (I know. I'll have a talk with her later), but you can easily convert them using the new tool!

Photo (c) ChezUs

Monday, October 26, 2009

Seared Scallops with Orange and Jalapeno Dressing – Hot, But Not

For someone that doesn't eat a lot of spicy food, this video recipe for Seared Scallops with Orange and Jalapeno Dressing may seem pretty intimidating.

Along w
ith the orange "supremes," a very healthy amount of diced jalapenos form the base of this great appetizer.

Jalapenos are not a super spicy variety of pepper, especiall
y if they are prepped the way I demo here. We want the pleasant bitter-sweet heat of the fruit, but not that burning sensation that many associate with jalapeno.

Those sliced peppers you had on the nachos were unpleasantly hot because they retained the seeds and white membranes that contain all the capsicum (the substance that gives peppers their fire). By the way, this does make a great excuse for why you drank so much beer.

If you use the technique I show in the video, you will be amazed at how mild, and great tasting jalapenos can be. Once cut correctly, in a "Brunoise" as I joke about during the recipe, the peppers make a perfect partner to the sweet orange and crusty seared scallops.

This would make a very cool first course for those upcoming holiday parties, but make sure you watch the searing technique carefully. A very hot, very good quality pan is critical, as are dry, wild day boat scallops.

If the scallops are wet, and/or the pan is not hot enough, you will get the dreaded "boiled" scallop – a pale, shriveled knot of disappointment. Done properly however, this is one fantastic seafood recipe. Time and money allowing, maybe even practice before the big day. Enjoy!

Ingredients (for 4 scallops):
2 small jalapeno, brunoise cut
1 sweet orange, sectioned
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sambal (Asian red chili condiment), optional
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 day boat scallops
salt to taste

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Begging and Teasing on a Sleepy Sunday Afternoon

The beautiful plate you see here is from a just completed video recipe for seared scallops with an orange and jalapeno dressing. This simple appetizer will blow your socks off (if you wear socks, which I really prefer you do). It will be airing soon, so stay tuned!

Please Vote for Food Wishes for the 2009 Foodbuzz Blog Awards "Best Video Blog"

Time is almost up to vote for Chef John for the 2009 Foodbuzz Blog Awards, so if you haven't voted yet, please follow the link and tell them this site is your pick for "Best Video Blog!"

I'm honored just to be nominated, but a win would help raise the profile of the blog even higher. Thanks!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Catching a Foodbuzz with Black Box Wines at Spruce

Wednesday night I attended another fabulous Foodbuzz Community Table dinner hosted by Black Box Wines at Spruce. The food was delicious, the wine was great, and the company utterly enjoyable.

The only way the evening could have been any more entertaining was if David Chang had crashed our dessert course and delivered a drunken rant about our cheese plate.

"F*cking come on, San Francisco chefs! Do something with your f*cking cheese!
Hey, can I get some f*cking figs?"

That didn't happen, but even so, the night was a fun-filled feast featuring a four-course meal of fresh, local, and thoughtfully prepared food paired very nicely with an array of Black Box wines.

The evening started with some beautifully presented charcuterie in Spruce's "Library." This was my kind of library – sliced meats, crusty bread, wonderful wine, crackling fireplace, and absolutely no books. We were also allowed to speak above a whisper, which really works out great for me.

I enjoyed several glasses of Black Box's 2008 Columbia Valley Riesling as I chatted up my fellow Foodbuzz Featured Publishers. Seeing that most of the others were drinking the 2007 California Merlot, I wondered if my cold white wine was the best choice for the house-cured meats. I would have looked it up, but like I said, there were no books.

We moved from the Library to a handsome private dining room in the back of the restaurant. This was a good thing since there's nothing more annoying than trying to enjoy a romantic, softly lit meal, only to be subjected to the strobe-like flash lighting from a couple dozen cackling food bloggers.

There's a certain special something about having a meal in a private room like that. The food tastes better, the wine pairs more perfectly, and the conversations seem even more int
eresting. It's no wonder meetings about launching companies and plotting murders are held in such spaces.

Our first course was a visually arresting beet and pear salad. The deeply colored, carpaccio-style sliced beets were topped with aged goat cheese and walnut vinaigrette. The sweet, soft pear proved a perfect liaison between the sexy salad and the accompanying 2008 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Next up was a perfectly roasted halibut, served atop chanterelles and fennel frond broth, finished with a subtly sweet, jam-like
puree of fennel bulb. This course was paired with two Black Box chardonnays– a 2008 Monterey County and a 2008 Napa Valley Reserve.

I really enjoy chardonnay paired with mushrooms, and thought both worked very well, however, when we were asked which we thought was the better match, I chose the Monterey County, as did Black Box's wine guru Steve Hosmer. Take that, bloggers that liked the other one better!

The main course was an impeccably presented bavette steak with sauce bordelaise, served with a stack of duck fat fried potatoes. I'd like to type that again… a stack of duck fat fried pot
atoes. A few thought this a bit too safe of a pairing with the 2007 California Cabernet Sauvignon, but I defended the decision by simply repeating, "yeah, but duck fat potatoes," over and over.

The dessert course was a trio of cheeses served with honeyed almonds, and dried cranberries. It's at this point in the evening when I stopped asking questions like, "what cheese is this again?" – I put away the camera and pen, and just enjoyed the end of a great meal. Talki
ng food, laughing, winking, and just being in the moment.

Throughout the dinner the sommeliers would explain what we were drinking and why it was paired with these ingredients. Usually, to this old chef's ear, these course introductions sound like, "…blah, blah, tannins, blah, blah, oak, blah, blah, vanilla," but I actually tried to pay attention to the whys and what fors. There really are reasons certain pairings work and other do no

It was impossible not to notice how prideful the folks from Black Box are when they talk about their offerings. They know they have some great wines, and you can see how much they enjoy the fact it's packaged in a black box.

Due to the facts that it was decanted for service, and so damn food-friendly, not once during the entire evening did the thought, "we're drinking wine from a box," cross my mind. To me, that's the best compliment I can give.

Thanks to Foodbuzz for another wonderful evening! Thanks to Black Box Wines for (see above), and thanks to Spruce for all the wonderful food!

Check out some of my fellow food blogger's recaps of this event:

at Bon Vivant
Denise & Lenny at Chez Us
Janet at Pretty Green Girl
Joel at Six By 10 Tiny Kitchen
Jesse at Beer and Nosh

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Experimental Ricotta Meatballs Prove to be Paradoxically Delicious

I was at it again – taking a perfectly good recipe and putting in way too much of something just to see what would happen. In this case it was a basic meatball recipe that was the object of my curiosity.

I wanted to know what would happen if I put in a relatively large ratio of ricotta cheese. What happened was tasty, very tender, and fairly light meatballs. I feared the extra mixing required to incorporate the ricotta make the meatballs tough and rubbery. I'm happy to report it did not.

The cheese actually gave the meatballs a very nice texture, and ironically, this recipe could end up being a cure for the chronic over-mixers among us. A recipe that eliminates the problem of over mixing by using an ingredient that forces you to over mix it? Is that a paradox?

While you're googling "paradox," I'm going to finish off the last of these delicious meatballs that I served with the customary spaghetti. And, by
customary I mean in America, since our Italian friends still refuse to admit how great these two things are together, and remain adamant about serving them at different courses. Hey, their loss! Enjoy.

1/2 onion, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 3/4 tsp table salt)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1 pound ground beef (85% lean)
1/3 cup plain breadcrumb
1 (28-oz) jar prepared marinara sauce
1 cup water

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brooklyn Bread Porn by Liza de Guia

Liza de Guia (aka @SkeeterNYC on Twitter) is a very talented videographer from Brooklyn, NY, and this film about Matthew Tilden, founder of SCRATCHbread, is nothing short of inspiring.

Not only is the subject inspiring, but her video production and editing skills are at a level I can only hope to someday achieve.

With apologies to the gluten-free folks, if this video doesn't make you want to bake and/or eat bread, you may have issues. Enjoy!

SCRATCHbread: A Brooklyn Chef Creates Food from Scratch to Start A Movement from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Taste of Norfolk Recap

I'm back in beautiful (and much drier) San Francisco after a very fun weekend in Norfolk, Virginia. In case you're interested, I just published a recap of the trip on my American Food site on

The food and wine were very good, but the highlight was being able to meet, and speak with at length, Al Doumar – a true American food icon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hello from Norfolk, Virginia!

Just a quick hello from a cool, gray, but very friendly Norfolk. The food and drink have been great, and these folks sure take that whole southern hospitality thing pretty serious around here. I'm heading back to San Francisco tomorrow afternoon to resume my normal (whatever that means) routine.

The photo you see here was taken in a very funky gift shop below an even funkier cafe called A’Latte coffeehouse. Unfortunately, it's only a gag gift box – oh well, one of these days.

By the way, if for some reason you are not following my scintillating updates on Twitter, click here to follow me. I've long dreamed of a day when a man would not be judged on talent, character, or contributions to society, but by how many twitter followers he has. My friends, that day is almost upon us. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beef Short Ribs Braised with Wild Mushrooms and Tomato – I Sure Hope You're Having Bad Weather

This video recipe for beef short ribs braised with porcini mushrooms and tomato is so comforting, so satisfying, and so deeply warming that when I make it, I'm actually disappointed if it's not storming outside.

I mean, why waste a dish like this on a nice day? I haven't quite mastered controlling the weather yet (although, from what I hear, many of my old habits have raised the globe's temperature a little), but this time of year you can usually count on Mother Nature blessing you with some cold, wet weather in which to enjoy these ribs.

The short ribs are slowly braised with easy-to-find dried porcini mushrooms (for real, ask someone at the fancy grocery store and they'll find them for you!) until they turn into a triumph of fork-tender goodness.

I love these short ribs over mashed potatoes, but the rich tomato and mushroom gravy is fantastic over soft polenta as well. I really hope you give this cool weather wonder a try. Enjoy!

1/2 cup dried porcini mushroom
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef short ribs (about 8-10 pieces)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried rosemary

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Heading to Norfolk to Get the Truth Behind America's First Ice Cream Cone

I sure hope I can handle the truth. I'm heading out on my last press trip of the year (I think), to Norfolk, Virginia. I was invited to cover the Town Point Virginia Wine Festival, as well as sample the local cuisine, and since I've never been to the area I decided to check it out.

On Friday we're stopping by Doumar's Cones and BBQ, where a certain Abe Doumar is said to have created the world's first ice cream cone. I will be subjecting them to the same hardcore investigative journalism you've come to expect from me.

That said, after a few free ice cream cones I'm liable to say anything. Hey, you want objectivity, go read, you get the point.

Here is a very cute video I found on Doumar's Cones. Enjoy, and stay tuned!

Photo from

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween Special: "Severed Finger" Cheese Sticks!

Michele and I just returned from our romantic Sonoma 10th anniversary get-way, but before I left I filmed this very cool (and very gross) "severed fingers" Halloween treat. I got the idea from the blog, Our Best Bites, and decided to tweak it a little bit and add some hot sauce "blood" to the torn appendages.

This would make quite an eye-catching appetizer tray for your upcoming Halloween party -- come on, what kid wouldn't think you were the coolest parent ever, if you made some of these? Be sure to tear the cheese sticks in half as irregularly as possible, as this really gives it that stomach-turning realism.

This video recipe will finally give you hardcore food snobs (you know who you are!) a chance to eat string cheese. You know you've wanted to for so long, but were afraid you would be seen with it at the market and not have a decent excuse -- problem solved. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Live From New York, It's Sunday Morning!

Here are the first two videos from a series of breakfast videos I did for when I was in New York. There are seven in all, and I'll link to all of them eventually. This was quite a new experience for me, since all I had to do was cook the recipe.

About had one of their top video producers, Jonathan Stewart, there to film, and eventually edit and publish these videos. The first recipe is a delicious sausage and mushroom breakfast casserole, and the second, an oatmeal breakfast cookie. Enjoy!

Technical Note: Yes, we know the striped shirt I was wearing cause
d some weirdness, but since I never appear in my own videos, I will plead ignorance. I thought all dark clothes are safe, but apparently not. But hey, I was just the hired talent!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Friday Foodwishers!

Below you'll see a photo from a new video recipe I just finished filming. I'm not going to tell you what it is yet, but it does feature a delicious dose of dried porcini mushroom! It should be up early next week, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I just did.

Also, this weekend look out for some links to the breakfast videos I just filmed for in New York City. I think they came out well, and it was fun just cooking and letting someone else worry about the filming, editing, etc. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black Pepper and Thyme Gougères – Just Call Me Puff Daddy

Actually, on second thought, don't call me puff daddy. These beautiful cheese puffs, called gougères in French cooking, are as easy as they are delicious. The buttery, eggy dough (called Pâte à Choux) is the same one we used for the blue cheese fritters, so if the first minute of the video looks like a repeat, it's not!

There's a French bakery called Tartine in my neighborhood that makes these amazin
g extra-large gougères studded with black pepper and fresh thyme leaves. It's like my favorite thing ever, and I can't believe it took me this long to make them myself.

Usually, gruyere cheese is used, but I had some very sharp farmhouse cheddar in the fridge, so I decided to use that. As long as you are using a very sharp, full-flavored cheese I don't think you can go wrong. I love
gougères with gruyere, but I think the extra-sharp cheddar was just as good, and maybe better, at least to my palette.

Since gougères really don’t take much time to prep, and only 15 minutes or so to bake, they are great appetizers for a party. They're okay after they sit for a while, but if you really want to treat your guests, make them in small batches a few times during the party so people can taste them warm.

One of the greatest smells in the world comes from that glorious, cheesy wisp of steam that escapes a freshly baked gougère as it's torn open. Which reminds me, make twice as much as you think you'll need – these are very addictive and will turn normally well-mannered guests into out-of-control gluttons! Enjoy.

Ingredients (makes about 12 small gougère):
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated sharp cheese (cheddar, gruyere, etc.)
1 tsp freshly picked thyme leaves
1 tsp freshly coarsely ground black pepper

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Coming Soon: Gorgeous Gougères!

Big News! We've Been Nominated for Best Video Blog by the 2009 Foodbuzz Blog Awards

I'm proud to announce that Food Wishes Video Recipes has been nominated for the "Best Video Blog" by the 2009 Foodbuzz Blog Awards!

Please show your support by following this link to vote for your favorite video chef! The voting is open now through October 29th. The winners will be announced on November 7th, 2009 at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco.

Foodbuzz says they will be passing out a nominee banner to place on the blog, so I'm sure you'll be seeing that soon! Thanks for all of you that nominated me, and please get out the vote! (btw, only one vote per visitor will count, so just vote once. Of course, you are encouraged to spam you friends and have them vote also... As Tim Gunn would say, "Make it work!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Behind the Scenes with the Real Chef John

Here is an outtake from my recent video shoot down in LA with BNE.

From watching my videos, most of you probably thin
k I'm a nice guy who would be a fun and gracious co-worker, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Call me a total diva, but if I have to
perform to such an incredibly high level of excellence -- basically being awesome all the time -- then everyone around me needs to raise their game up to the same level -- from the Executive Producer all the way down to the lowly sweat patter.

CONGRATULATIONS to BNE Executive Producer, Jude, and her husband Greg, who had a beautiful new baby girl this morning! Harper arrived at 3:55 AM, and weighed in at a healthy 7 lb 13oz.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Almond Arugula Pesto – About as Subtle as a Shovel to the Face

This short, but very green video recipe for an almond arugula pesto, shows you one of my favorite uses for the ubiquitous bitter green. I like an arugula salad as much as the next guy, but it's also nice to use the peppery green as something more than a lettuce.

Arugula is also quite a beautiful herb. Fragrant, spicy, crisp; it makes one hell of a good pesto. I paired it with raw almonds for a combo that was just amazing on the grilled hanger steak you can see here. Subtle it's not, but that's okay sometimes.

I know the conventional wisdom with most sauces is that they should compliment the main ingredient, not overpower it. Here, that simply does not apply. Not only does this sauce overpower whatever you serve it with, it obliterates it completely. But, it works!

I've posted the ingredients below, but I beg you not to measure as you make this sauce. This is one recipe that should come out slightly different every time you make it. If that seems like a strange statement, you may be missing one of the most important aspects of cooking – the rewards of randomness.

As you make this pesto, your subconscious will take over, and any variations in the final product will magically benefit whatever your eating this with. Of course, like most of my best theories, I can't prove this.

As I mention in the video, when shopping for the arugula, try and get some fully-grown leaves. That mild, ultra-baby stuff make a nice safe salad, but for a sauce like this you want the dangerous, fully developed flavor of the more mature leave. I hope you give this easy recipe a try. Enjoy!

Large handful of arugula leaves, blanched
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup raw almonds
4 cloves garlic
salt to taste

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Cool Weather Rerun: Mascarpone Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage

I saw a great looking butternut squash today at the market, but for whatever reason I didn't buy it. Later in the afternoon I was checking some files on YouTube when I came across the pasta recipe below – my video for butternut squash ravioli!

There it was, mocking me and my lack of butternut squash with which to make it. So, I decided to do the next best thing and repost it. It's a great recipe and perfect for this time of year. By the way, you freakishly small wooden spoon fans will be happy to know le petit bois makes an appearance. Enjoy!

Here is the link to the original post complete with ingredients!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Santa Maria Tri Tip Lesson with Paul Righetti (because Barbecuing Season is Never Over)

This is another one of the videos I shot while down in Santa Maria, when we were guests of Paul and Susie Righetti. You've already seen Susie make the famous Santa Maria salsa in a previously posted video, so here's her husband Paul showing us the real method used to barbecued the beef with which the salsa is always paired.

I got a comment the other day asking when I was posting this
video since outdoor cooking season was coming to an end. I beg to differ. What better weather to cook over an open fire than cold and damp? Unless you're talking about a blizzard or life-threatening thunderstorm, there is no such thing as a bad time to barbecue.

By the way, save your "that's not really barbecue because…" comments and emails. They call it barbecue, so I call it barbecue. You can argue all day about what is or is not "really" barbecue, but for me, if it's cooked over or near a wood fire, it's barbecue. So, put that in your pit and smoke it.

In the video you'll see Paul use a pre-made mix of salt, black pepper, garlic and parsley to season the tri tip. This is one of the many Santa Maria barbecue products that Susie sells on her website.

The site is called Susie Q's Brand, and she offers a large variety of local Santa Maria products, including the magical red oak wood chips. Here's the link in case you want to check out the selection. I'm working on getting a special discount code for you foodwishers to enter on the site, so check back for that! Enjoy.

Righetti just let me know that any orders placed using the promo code FOODWISHES2009 will recieve a 20% discount until 11/01/09!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cream of Cauliflower with Blue Cheese Fritters – The Best Soup I've Ever Made?

I arrived back to San Francisco late last night, weary from traveling, and my very busy week in NYC, and despite planning to sleep in, I woke up very early, excited to finish this amazing cream of cauliflower with blue cheese fritters video recipe.

Either that, or I'm still on east coast time.
Soup is not usually a subject associated with thrilling culinary experiences. Soup is comforting, soothing, soul-warming – not something that chefs normally day-dream about. This soup was a different story. It may be the single greatest soup I have every made.

Sometimes an idea for a recipe pops into my head and even before I make it, I have a pretty good idea on what the results will be like. But, when I went over this combination in my head, I really had no idea how successful it would be. To say I was happy with the results would be a serious understatement.

I was pretty sure blue cheese would be a nice addition to cauliflower soup, but the challenge was what would be the best delivery system for the sharp, funky cheese. I looked at many fritter recipes, but nothing was inspiring me. Then, for whatever reason, I thought about Pâte à choux.

Pâte à choux is an old-school, eggy pastry dough used to make things like éclairs and cream puffs. I though this would make a much lighter fritter than the traditional flour and baking powder versions, and that certainly turned out to be the case.

The dough fried up perfectly – beautifully golden brown outside, yet tender and moist inside – the perfect enclosure for the molten blue cheese. The combination of these light puffs and the earthy soup was magnificent. I can't remember ever being so happy eating a soup.

I really hope you give this a try, and even if you can't summon the courage to make the fritters (what's wrong with you?), I still think the soup alone is well worth making. Enjoy!

For the fritters (a small batch - about 12 fritters):
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
2 oz crumbled, very firm blue cheese

For the soup:
1 onion
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic
salt to taste
1 head cauliflower
1 quart water or stock
nutmeg to taste
cayenne to taste
1/2 cup cream