Thursday, December 31, 2009

Have a Safe and Very Happy New Year!

I want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year! May 2010 bring you an embarrassment of culinary riches. 2009 was a great year for the blog, and with your help and support, this new year promises to be even more exciting. Thanks! And, enjoy!

Don't Drink and Drive!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cream of Mushroom Soup – Pure Liquid Moon-Soaked Earth

I can't believe I haven't posted a video recipe for cream of mushroom soup! It's such a classic cool weather staple, and quite simple to make – as long as you have a few hours to spare.

The secret to this deep rich potage is a long slow caramelization, the key to unlocking the mushroom's magic. Oh, and by the way, I mean that literally. Mushrooms are by far the most mysterious and magical things we eat.

Scientists still don't really understand how and why they grow like they do. While every other food you eat gets its energy from the sun, Agaricus bisporus, the common button mushroom, does not. Some believe mushrooms are powered by the moon, which I find fascinating to contemplate.

This is a very minimalist formula, and meant to transform the browned bits of fungus into pure earthy essence of mushroom. You can use whatever exotic mushrooms you can get a hold of, but it works quite well with the ubiquitous white button mushroom. Enjoy!

1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 pounds white or brown button mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 rounded tbsp flour
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied into a bundle with kitchen string, plus some picked leaves to garnish
2 cloves garlic, peeled, left whole
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cioppino's Not Cheapino, But Totally Worth It!

When you feel like splurging a little – maybe for that exclusive New Year's Eve party you're putting together – San Francisco's famous Cioppino is a great choice.
This spicy fish and shellfish stew is a big red bowl of yummy, and when paired with a loaf of crusty sourdough bread, it's downright otherworldly.
There are as many versions for Cioppino as there are tourist traps on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf (if you're visiting our city, you've been warned…do not waste your money on an expensive meal down there!).

Some versions use red wine, some white. Some feature a thin broth, while others are so thick you could stand your spoon up in it. They usually all have some type of crab and shrimp, but any and all combinations of seafood are used. As I say in the video, this is not the Cioppino recipe; it's a Cioppino recipe.

I've seriously never made it the same way twice, which is how a recipe like this should be treated. I want you to watch and learn the basic steps, but then go forth, adapt, and find your own expression of Cioppino bliss.

Any serious arguments in the comments as to what should, or should not, appear in a Cioppino will be met with the usual indignation. When it comes to Cioppino, there are two ways to make it – the way you make it, and the wrong way. Enjoy!

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
1 rib celery, fine dice
1 onion, large dice
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 can (28-oz) tomato puree, tomato sauce, or plum tomatoes crushed by hand
2 cups water, clam juice or fish stock, more as needed to adjust thickness
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
5-6 thin slices of lemon
1 cooked Dungeness crab (about 2-lbs), cracked and cleaned, or 1-lb frozen crabmeat thawed
12 oz fresh cod, cut into 1-in pieces or any other white fish
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound fresh mussels
1/2 cup chopped fresh herb (usually Italian parsley and/or basil, tarragon, or any combination)

View the complete recipe

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Just Call Me Butter, Because I'm on a Roll

Help Wanted! As some of you already know, I'm putting together an American cookbook for Parragon Publishing. If you'd like to help, I'll be posting a series of photos from recipes being produced for the book, and I'd love to have some of you loyal readers testing them.

Beneath the photo, you'll see a link to the written recipe on my American Food site, where the recipes are also being published. Since I'll be doing so many recipes, I'll also be posting a couple videos a week from the collection, but I really want to know if the instructions in the recipes work even without seeing them.

Click here to try this Classic Dinner Rolls Recipe. Please report back! Thanks and enjoy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays Foodwishers!

I want to wish all of you and your families a very happy holiday and fantastic New Year! I can't thank you enough for visiting and contributing to the site this year. Every day you help me keep the dream alive – the dream of a self-supporting, free video recipe blog where cooks of all skill levels can come to watch, listen, learn and enjoy.

As you enjoy your holiday feasts, take a few moments to look around the table and remind yourself what a magical effect great food has on people. Hopefully it will inspire you to reach even greater culinary heights in 2010.

Michele and I will be taking a little break for the Christmas holiday, but I'll be back soon – filming, posting, and hopefully making some of your food wishes come true. Enjoy!!

Peace and Love,
Chef John

Photo (c) Flickr user kevindooley

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Candied Bacon – Sweet Savory Strips of Party Food Perfection

I got the idea for making these from a guy named Rod Brooks, who hosts a sports talk show on KNBR, here in San Francisco.

Ironically, I was on my way to the gym when I heard hi
m talking about a party he recently hosted, and for an appetizer he had simply set out bowls of cooked bacon. Genius.

I decided to take that idea and make it a little more holiday-ish by candying the strips of fatty pork. Let's face it, the holidays are all about t
aking our favorite things: sports, drinking, toys, food, etc., and enjoying them in seasonally acceptable levels of excess.As I mention in the video, candied bacon is much more than a neat party favor. It makes the best BLT ever, and would make any plate of eggs so much more memorable.

One tip I forgot to mention in the clip – line your pan with foil! The caramelized bacon drippings are a little tough to wash off! Enjoy.

1 pound thick center-cut bacon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp rice vinegar
black pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pop Fewer Buttons this Holiday with a Few Tips from Snack Girl

My friend Lisa from Snack Girl sent me this short video with some of her holiday party survival techniques. Apparently my "eat as much as you can at the beginning of the party to stretch your stomach" strategy is not the best approach! For more info, you can check out Lisa's website (warning: she a Ph.D., so watch your grammar).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Clams Casino – It's Not Gambling, if You Know You're Going to Win

Last month I saw a breathtakingly beautiful clams casino photo (lower right) by the one and only Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen.

They were so sexy
, so tantalizing, so enticing, I was literally salivating at the thought of slurping one down. It was pure food porn on the half shell.

Clams casino is one of my all-time favorite things to eat, and Jaden's post had me wondering why it had been so long since I'd made some. I decided a video recipe for this American classic was in order, especially since we’re in the heart of the holiday party season.

Not only is clams casino an easy recipe to prepare, it can be made ahead of time and popped into the broiler whenever you're ready.

The ethereal combination of butter, garlic, bacon, and clams is ridiculously delicious. Make a few trays of these, put some champagne on ice, and get ready to hear a whole lot of "what a great party!"

Thanks to Jaden for the idea, and for letting me post her luscious photo. You can check out her clams casino post here, and get another steamy take on this great appetizer. Enjoy!

12 medium-sized (about 2 1/2-inches) littleneck clams
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 strips center-cut bacon, each sliced into 6 equal pieces
2 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt
chopped flat leaf parsley
lemon wedges
rock salt as needed

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Tease for Two

Here are a couple photos from some upcoming videos, and yes, good guess, they both feature bacon as one of the main ingredients. Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to Seed a Pomegranate – There Will NOT Be Blood

I was going to repost my famous "Secret Underwater Pomegranate Trick" video, but the video quality was so horrible (it was one of my first how-to videos) I decided to re-shoot it with the new SLR camera. I'm so glad I did! It looks amazing, if I do say so myself.

There is nothing quite like the sweet/tart explosion of a pomegranate kennel, but so many people avoid this great holiday fruit because of the mess associated with liberating the jewel-like seeds. This video should take care of that.

Any winter salad becomes extra special with a scattering of
pomegranate seeds, and they're also a natural for garnishing all kinds of desserts – pomegranate cheesecake anyone? I really hope you give this technique a try. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Salmon Hash – the Perfect Breakfast for a Jet-lagged Chef

I was so tired from flying cross-country last night, there was just no way I was going to have a fresh, new video to post today. So, I was very happy when I realized I'd saved this salmon hash recipe shot for

I really, really love traditional corned beef hash. It's on my short list of potential "last meals." There are few things sexier than the yolk of a perfectly cooked poached egg slowly flowing over and into a crusty corned beef hash.
The problem is, a steady diet of corned beef hash and poached eggs for breakfast may bring about this "last meal" much more quickly than one would prefer. So, as a more heart-friendly alternative I offer you this recipe. Enjoy!

Note: This video was shot for, so when you click on the video below, you'll be taken to the recipe page there (complete with transcript and ingredients).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire (and by open fire, I mean closed oven)

Hello from freezing, icy, snowy, rainy, windy Western New York. I haven’t posted anything in an unprecedented three days, and I'm getting a little shaky, so I was glad that this chestnut video I did for went live.

I've been super busy finishing the final book plan for my American cookbook, and I'm happy to report I've just made my deadline! I'm flying back to San Francisco tomorrow and should have things back to normal soon. In the meantime, here's a quick tutorial for roasting chestnuts – a delicious and very traditional Christmas treat. Enjoy!

Note: This video was shot for, so when you click on the video below, you'll be taken to the recipe page there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Polish Grandmothers and the Pure Joy of Pierogi

I like cheese, I love pasta, and I adore mashed potatoes, so you can image the pure bliss I experience when I get to eat pierogi. They very well may be my favorite non-meat food.

Pierogi are a classic Eastern European potato and cheese stuffed dumpling traditionally made for festivals and celebrations.

There are thousands of versions using different fillings, dough, and garnis
hes, but this one made for an assignment is fairly typical.

Above and beyond the ingredients, there are also many different ways to engineer the dish. You can make a few big ones, or lots of tiny ones (guess which is easier). You can use lots of stuffing, or just a little. You can boil and toss in melted butter, or you can fry to get a crispy crust as I did here.

My grandmother Sophie, on my father's side of the family, was from Poland, and every time we would drive to New York for a visit, the highlight of the trip was a big plate of her pierogi.

The fact that the trip was seven hours, in the back of a station wagon, in the middle of summer, with no air conditioning, with my father chain-smoking the entire trip, did nothing to diminish my joyous anticipation.

I hope you give these pierogi a try. These would make a great snowy, or rainy day project, and they can be made ahead and fr
ozen for future use. Enjoy!

Note: This video was shot for, so when you click on the video below, you'll be taken to the recipe page there.

1 pound russet potato
1/2 diced onion
2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 cup flour, plus more as needed

Butter to fry in, sour cream and chive to garnish

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chew Chew Train

A friend I met in Colorado sent me this video link showing Chef Ned Archibald's "Chocolateville." Ned's the pastry chef at Keystone Resort, and every year builds this town from thousands of pounds of chocolate.

My father was a train conductor, and when I was a kid I always wanted to build a huge toy train set-up complete with little town and all the fixings. Of course, the fact that this one's made with chocolate, and lives in a resort surrounded by powdery snow sort of completes the fantasy for me.

By the way, my mother Pauline is doing much better after her shoulder surgery, and I'll be heading back to San Francisco on Dec. 14th. Thanks to everyone who sent their regards and good wishes!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Discount Coupons Available at OpenSky – Just Tell Them Chef John Sent You

I just found out that if you register your email at OpenSky by midnight on Wednesday, you'll receive coupons ranging from $15 to $100 off and 10% to 50% off.

To take advantage, go to the OpenSky Holiday Promotion Page, and when you register enter CHEFJOHN as your favorite shopkeeper.

I've been told every user will receive a coupon, but the first 50 people to sign up using the code above will get a Premium Coupon.

OpenSky is a new online shopping site where I've been invited to be a shopkeeper. You can read a little more about it in this post. My store is still being stocked, but there are lots of great stores already up and running, and the coupons will work in any of them. Enjoy!

Photo credit (c) Flickr user desi.italy

Sunday, December 6, 2009

This Arroz Con Pollo Recipe (Chicken and Rice) Could Save Your Life

I wake up in a strange kitchen with no windows. I have no idea how I got there. All the doors are locked. I am alone. There is a note on a nearby table.

"You're to cook dinner for six people tonight, using anything in this fully stocked kitchen. You will not be told who'll be eating your food, or even what country you are in.

When it's ready, ring the bell on the table, and then lock yourself in the room at the back of the kitchen. There's a selection of old People Magazines for you to read while you wait.

If they enjoy your offering, you will wake up back in your San Francisco kitchen with no memory of this evening. If they do not like what you've made, you'll be terminated."

Well, that's just great – and I never even got to see the first season of Mad Men. Okay, so the preceding science fiction scenario is a little far-fetched, but if that were my predicament, what would I prepare? That's a no-brainer –Arroz Con Pollo, also known as Chicken and Rice.
Everybody likes chicken and rice. Just about every major culture has some sort of version of this archetypal recipe (by the way, people from minor cultures please save your emails). This is pure down-to-the-bone comfort food that I'm sure my mysterious captors would love. In fact, I'd bet my life on it. Enjoy!

Tech Note: This video recipe was filmed a while ago on my regular, non-awesome HD equipment. I used to think this stuff looked pretty good, but now, not so much.

Note: To see how I cut up a chicken into serving size pieces, watch this Buttermilk Fried Chicken video recipe!

1 whole chicken, cut in serving pieces
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/3 cup sliced green olives
2 tbsp capers
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp fine table salt)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups white long grain rice
4 cups chicken broth

Friday, December 4, 2009

An 18-Minute Lecture on Spaghetti Sauce?

My buddy Lenny from ChezUs turned me on to this video lecture by Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell on the subject of spaghetti sauce and the nature happiness. I've used these TED Conference videos before when traveling to pick up the slack in content, and always find them fascinating. I hope you do as well. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Exclusive: December Wikio Food and Wine Blog Rankings

Clara Chappaz, the US Community Manager at Wikio, has given me an exclusive opportunity to reveal the December Wikio Top 10 Health Blogs, before their official publication date. Food Wishes comes in at a very respectable number 17! Thanks for your continued interest and support.

Here are the Wikio Top 20 Food and Wine Blogs for December:
2Diner's journal by Frank Bruni - New York Times

3Ed Levine Eats
5Eater LA
6Eater SF
7Wine Library TV
8101 Cookbooks
10Eating L.A.
11The Girl Who Ate Everything
12The Amateur Gourmet
13Serious Eats New York
14Kalyn's Kitchen
15Starbucks Gossip
17Food Wishes Video Recipes
18Baking Bites
19Not Eating Out in New York
20Bay Area Bites

Wikio Blogs

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Oven Smoked" Pulled Pork Shoulder: Featuring SFQ – The Original San Francisco-Style Barbecue Sauce

Pulled pork shoulder is such an easy recipe, and a great item to enjoy with your SFQ, that I wanted to get this video up before I left for New York. As some of you know I'm headed out to help my mom for a little while and won't have an opportunity to post much from there.

The conventional method for cooking pork shoulder is low and slow, but this recipe is really low and slow – like 210 degrees F. low and 12 hours slow. The result is an incredibly soft and succulent piece of pork, perfect for pulling.

Since I don't have a smoker (at the time of this posting), and most of you don't either, I thought I would show you a little trick I would have learned in the Army had I enlisted. As you'll see, I cook the pork in a covered Dutch oven with a couple of ramekins of water into which I've added a small amount of liquid smoke.

I've never been a big liquid smoke guy, but this method seems to scent the meat with a nice subtle smokiness without getting in the way. The extra moisture also allows for a very humid cooking environment, always a good things when doing pork shoulder. Enjoy!

3 1/2 lb pork shoulder roast
3-4 tbsp dry rub
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
SFQ barbecue sauce as needed