Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Chance to Vote!

There are only 2 days left to get your vote in for Saveur Magazine's 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards!

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has already voted, and encourage any one who hasn't to show your support for the work we do here on the blog. Please follow this link to cast your vote now. Thanks!

VOTING ENDS APRIL 2nd, Winners to be announced April 5th

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Edible Irony: Sloppy Joes, Not that Sloppy

For such an iconic retro dish, the Sloppy Joe is very misunderstood. While most people assume the name comes from the sandwich's loose meat, it's actually the name of the bar in Key West, FL where it was invented.

That's right, after extensive research (I checked Wikipedia), I've determined that this ground beef masterpiece was created at Sloppy Joe's Bar, which was probably named for some guy named Joe, who would get a little too loose after a few cocktails.

So, despite the name, the secret to a great Sloppy Joe is a thick, rich, almost dry consistency, which allows it to be eaten two-fisted, sans fork, as God intended.

I believe over the years the idea that the name was a description of the optimum texture helped this evolve into its usually much runnier form. As you'll see in the video, I like to start with lots of liquid and slowly simmer it down into a fine, thick, tender paste.

Spice it up, toss it onto some soft sesame seed hamburger buns, and make sure there are lots of Tater Tots withi
n reach. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
1 1/2 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced green bell pepper
3/4 cup ketchup
dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
cayenne to taste

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Chimichurri Sauce Recipe Even Jimmy McCurry Would Have Loved

Chimichurri is a fabulous green sauce that's been steadily growing in popularity across the American restaurant landscape. For chefs, this Argentinean export falls into that magical category of sauces that literally go with everything.

This herby, garlicky, tangy, spicy and very green condiment is great on all kinds of grilled meats, which according to my sources deep within the Argentinean food history subculture was its original use. Besides slathered all over a thick steak, chimichurri is equally wonderful on poultry, seafood, vegetables, or just a piece of crusty bread.

How chimichurri sauce came to be named is such a fascinating story, I really hope it's true. As the legend goes, an Irishman named Jimmy McCurry (for some reason fighting alongside the Argentinean independence movement in the early 1800's) is credited with introducing this sauce to the local population.

Over the years the name became corrupted, and Jimmy McCurry sauce became chimichurri sauce. Makes perfect sense. I can only hope one day someone will read about me in a Wikipedia entry while researching the origins of "Jonemitzawa Sauce."

By the way, this is my version of chimichurri sauce, which may or may not be authentic. Either way, enjoy!

1/2 cup mild olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, or to taste
1 large bunch Italian parsley
1/2 cup packed freshly picked cilantro leaves
1/4 cup packed freshly picked oregano leaves
4-6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste


Chef John Needs Your Vote!

Have you heard? Food Wishes has been nominated in the video category for the Saveur Magazine 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards! Help us turn the honor of being nominated into the reality of a glorious win! Please follow this link to cast your vote now. Thanks!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

You Can Make Cheese

Other than the chicken wing clips, this how-to-make-cheese video is the most-watched and commented-on recipe ever published on the blog. It was the first Food Wishes video to be featured on YouTube's home page, and has been watched by over a million people.

I receive several emails a week about this recipe, and most go something like, "Another successful cheese-maker here! Awesome recipe, very easy for a beginner cook like me." Of course, in the spirit of full disclosure I do get the occasional, "Thanks genius, your crap recipe just cost me a gallon of good milk. Didn’t work at all. You fail." I have two words for that person, "operator error."

Just in case you missed, or forgotten about it, I'm happy to re-present "You Don't Have to Be a Cheese Whiz to Make Your Own Fromage Blanc." Click here to watch the video, and also check out the 99 existing comments, which have some great tips and success stories. Enjoy!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter Lilies or Easter Bread... What Would Jesus Bring?

Last year you just watched. This year, you actually make the bread. That's the plan at least. Below you'll see two videos; one for my family's traditional Easter bread, and one for a pink lemon icing.

These video recipes ran last year, but we have so many new visitors on the blog these days, I decided it would make a good pre-Easter rerun.

I'm sure some of you gave this try, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we do every year. Sure you can bring that half-dead lily plant to your Easter gathering, or you can bring a couple loaves of this great bread. What would Jesus do?

How to Make Italian-Style Easter Bread

Follow the link to read the original post, "Italian Easter Bread - The Resurrection of a Great Family Recipe," and get all the ingredient amounts.

How to Lemon Icing

Follow the link to read the original post, "Pink Ice Ice Icing - It's Good Friday," and get all the ingredient amounts.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recipe Testers Wanted: Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Is there any better fate for a loaf of day-old bread than being turned into this amazing Southern treat? Bread pudding is one of the ultimate comfort food desserts, and perfect when you need a sweet course for a large group. If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
Serves 10

For the bread pudding:
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
4 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of allspice
1 (1 pound) loaf day-old French bread, torn into 1-inch chunks
4 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup golden raisins

For the whiskey sauce:
1 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey, or to taste

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Add the milk, cream, whiskey, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice. Whisk thoroughly until combined.

Scatter the bread in a 9 x 13 baking dish, and drizzle over the melted butter. Toss until coated. Top with the raisins. Cover with the custard mixture. Let still out for 30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the custard. May also be made ahead and refrigerated until you're ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Bake about 40 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is browned. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. May be served warm, room temperature, or cold.

To make the sauce: Mix the sugar, butter, and corn syrup in saucepan over low heat. Stir until the butter is melted, the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is heated through. Whisk in the whiskey. May be served over the bread pudding warm, or at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Easy Homemade Pie Crust - Now with 50% Less D'oh!

I've made a few pie video recipes on this blog over the years, but every single time I've used either a frozen shell, or ready to use sheets of dough. Some of you may have been thinking that I didn't know to make it from scratch, or was afraid to show you my secret recipe.

Well, neither is true. I make a damn nice piecrust, but I just choose not to. And, there are really no secret pie dough recipes. The formula is pretty standard; flour, fat, and water combined with the same technique by virtually every chef. You will see a splash of vinegar added to the ice water, which is suppose to reduce gluten formation and help keep the crust tender and flaky – but that's about as much of a secret as you're going to get.

This version is an all butter recipe (my personal favorite), and is made using a food processor, which makes the always critical "cutting" the butter into the flour step very simple. By the way, you can make a double batch of this, and freeze the individually wrapped dough for future pie-related adventures. If you'd like the apple pie filling recipe, you can find that here.

Below the recipe, I've included my mother Pauline's Key Lime Pie video, where she demonstrates how to properly "crimp" the dough edges to get that classic scalloped crust effect. I could have showed you in my video, but she has much nicer nails. Enjoy!

Ingredients: (makes enough dough for one 9 or 10 inch double crust pie)
12 ounces flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 sticks (1 cup) ice cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoon ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Learn How to Crimp Pie Crust from My Mom!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Don't Sleep on Boston Baked Beans

When was the last time you made Boston baked beans? It's so easy to forget about the classics when brainstorming side dish options for regular weekday fare. You happily make these luscious legumes for those mid-summer picnics and potlucks, but why are they so seldom on the regular menu?

The beauty of serving a side dish of such renown is you can toss it next to some nondescript sausages, or slice of ham and still have what feels like a special meal. I'm sure most of us associate baked beans with pleasurable experiences, thus it passes the only real "comfort food" test of authenticity.

While some of you more cynical readers may think this post was just an easy way to test one of the classic American recipes going in the cookbook, and at the same time, a way to solicit some witty comments from Scott from Boston, well, okay…that's just about right. Enjoy!

1 pound dry navy beans
6 cups water
pinch of baking soda
1 bay leaf
6 strips bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces (traditionally salt pork is used, and if desired 4 ounces can be substituted for the bacon)
1 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tomato Sauce – Your Wish is Eventually My Command

One of the most common "food wishes" I get is for tomato sauce. Even though I've received hundreds of requests for my tomato sauce recipe, I've resisted filming it for a few reasons.

t, I always thought I would eventually put all my most requested, unpublished recipes on a DVD, and totally get rich. That scheme has been thwarted since, over the course of the last couple years, I filmed and posted just about every recipe that fits that description.

Second, tomato sauce recipes are so personal that what I may think is a perfect all-purpose sauce, you may taste and think is the worse one you ever had. I remember going out to eat as a kid and listening to my mom and aunts talk about how the sauce we were eating was an abomination compared to "our" sauce.

Anyway, those issues aside, this is my basic, all-purpose tomato sauce. I trust you'
ll taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit, and be relatively gentle when comparing it to your grandmother's clearly superior version.

One thing I hope you do not change is the tomato. There is little debate among tomato sauce aficionados regarding the advantages using the magnificent San Marzano tomato. This long, intensely red, plum tomato variety imported from Italy can be found in any good Italian market, and most of the larger high-end grocery chains.

Any sauce recipe is only as good as the tomatoes, and unless you're going to use a basket of sugar-sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes in the middle of summer, these are your best option. I hope you find some and give this sauce recipe a try.

The other ingredient that may give you pause is the hint of anchovy paste. Use it. No one will taste it, and while I can't prove any of this, it really does "something." Enjoy!

2 cans (28-oz) whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 rib celery, fine dice
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
water as needed

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I wish I could have done a new video recipe for St. Patrick's Day this year, but I'm in the stretch run with all this cookbook photography so it just didn't happen, which is too bad because I had some fantastic ideas.

How does a Guinness-braised beef brisket sound? Or a kale-stuffed leg of lamb? Next year, I promise! So, you'll just have to settle for a link to my corned beef and cabbage video, which features some of my best, culturally-insensitive humor ever. My wife is half Irish, so I felt entitled to have a little fun.

If you've never tried cooking corned beef and cabbage before, use this video and give it a try! It's so easy, and one of the world's greatest one-pot meals ever. By the way, as you'll read if you follow the link…it's NOT even Irish.

Erin Go Bragh! (which is Gaelic for "Ireland until eternity, and enjoy!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo – Since it was Loose, You Must Reduce

I usually don't film things I'm trying for the first time. There is so much set up involved, and time invested when I do one of these video recipes, that it's just too painful to have something not work and end up with nothing to show for all the effort.

I thought this chicken fettuccine Alfredo recipe was going to fit that description. I'm putting this recipe in the cookbook, and I wanted to try one that uses chicken broth, the same one used to poach the breasts, in place of some of the heavy cream.

I was so sure I had the right proportions that I decided to film it without a test. I was wrong, or as the kids say these days…Fail (which by the way, is getting really annoying, so cut it out).

The dish tasted great; the fortified chicken broth worked perfectly as a partial cream substitute, and I also managed to not use any butter or olive oil – another goal of this recipe. The problem, as you'll see, is I simply had twice as much chicken broth as I needed.

So, in case I'm not clear in the video. You poach the breasts in 2 cups of broth, but before you continue with the recipe, boil that poaching liquid down to 1 cup and you will be in slightly-less-caloric chicken fettuccine Alfredo heaven.

Also, be sure to undercook the pasta by at least a minute, so you can allow it to absorb the sauce at the end, as it rests covered. The last piece of advice you've heard before… DO NOT attempt this recipe unless you have a nice hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It's like the main ingredient, so that green can is not going to cut it. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 large servings:
2 large chicken breasts
2 cups low sodium organic chicken broth
1 pound fettuccine
2 cups heavy cream
4 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley (in summer toss some nice fresh basil in for a little different version)
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daylight Saving Has Me Going Bananas

I hope you all remembered to set your clocks ahead last night, otherwise you are reading this an hour later than you should be. I made sure I changed mine since this morning I'm attending a Food Photography Workshop taught by Penny De Los Santos.

Penny is an award-winning travel and food photographer, and if you read Saveur Magazine, you've seen
her great work. And yes, that is the same Saveur Magazine which nominated this blog in the video category for their 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards. I knew I could work that in.

The beautiful banana bread below is a recipe going in the cookbook, so I thought I would post it in case some of you have bananas going bad, and want to give this a try. By the way, just think how good this photo would have looked had I already taken Penny's class.
Thanks and enjoy!

Banana Walnut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (usually 3 bananas is perfect)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl for a minute; reserve until needed.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next. Mix in the bananas, walnuts, and milk until combined. Add the flour mixture, stirring just until combined.

Pour batter into a buttered and lightly floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Man Fish Love

I'm a TED Head. I'm sure I'm not the first one to coin that phrase, but for me it's an accurate moniker. I could watch these lectures all day. This one features Chef Dan Barber in "How I fell in love with a fish," where he shares his discovery of an incredibly unique fish farm in Spain. I hope you find this as fascinating as I did. Enjoy!

Chef John Needs Your Vote!

Have you heard? Food Wishes has been nominated in the video category for the Saveur Magazine 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards! Help us turn the honor of being nominated into the reality of a glorious win! Please follow this link to cast your vote now. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shrimp and Grits – Breakfast for Dinner

I'm as open-minded as anyone. I'll try anything once, and have (this includes food), but when it comes to grits for breakfast, I just can't do it.

I know it's hugely popular in the south, and millions swear by it as the ultimate comfort starch, but nothing about it appeals to me, breakfast-wise.

I guess I love crisp-edged home fries so much that the thought of something so texturally opposite mingling with my bacon and eggs is too much of a stretch for me. Now, dinner is another story. I love shrimp and grits, and this will be the version going into the cookbook.

Shrimp and grits is a very simple recipe, but make sure you have your mise en place done before you start cooking the shrimp. They only take a few minutes to sauté, so you don't have time to run and chop scallions or juice a lemon.

As you'll see, once everything is assembled, this recipe is a snap. To make things even easier, you can make the grits a bit ahead since they stay hot a very long time. As always, if you make this and have any comments regarding the recipe, please pass them along. Thanks and enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:

For the grits:
1 cup white grits
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated white cheddar

For the shrimp:
4 strips bacon, cut in 1/4-inch pieces
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced green onions
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons cream
2 teaspoon lemon juice
dash of Worcestershire

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

If You’re a Bachelor, and Don't Want to Get Married, DO NOT Enter a House with Potato and Kale Stained Socks on the Door Handle!

Colcannon is a recipe I've wanted to do a video on for a long time. It's a super simple, but delicious Irish comfort food that would be a great side dish choice for any St. Patrick's Day menu.

I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to do my take on this, but
in the meantime here's a video from my friend, and's British & Irish Food Guide, Elaine Lemm. Elaine is a very talented cook and writer, and her site on About is filled with wonderful recipes.

According t
o Elaine, back in the day Colcannon was used to predict marriages on Halloween. Apparently small charms were added to the Colcannon and whichever unmarried girl found one would place socks, some Colcannon, and the charms on their front door handle. The first man to enter the house was their future husband. Sounds like a great system. Enjoy!

Photo (c) RFB Photography

Monday, March 8, 2010

How to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs – I'm Not the Eggman, but I Play One on the Internet

First of all, in case you're wondering, I'm a Rolling Stones guy, not a Beatles guy (one of my favorite, "there are two kinds of people in the world" questions). This quick video tutorial shows my method for making perfect hard boiled eggs.

I shouldn't really say "my" method since I'm sure I learned it from some chef decades ago, probably in a hotel somewhere, but regardless, it has served me well, and works every time.

Easter is rapidly approaching, and if you're going to be boiling eggs to decorate, why not make them so the insides are just as beautiful? Even if you don't plan on expressing your creativity with dyed eggshells, summer will be here before you know it, and everyone knows the secret to a great potato salad is perfectly cooked eggs.

Some of you may wonder about peeling the eggs, which I didn't bother to film. I simply peel under gently running water. If you have a great trick for peeling eggs please feel free to share with the rest of us. Enjoy!

Chef John Needs Your Vote!

Have you heard? Food Wishes has been nominated in the video category for the Saveur Magazine 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards! Help us turn the honor of being nominated into the reality of a glorious win! Please follow this link to cast your vote now. Thanks!

UPDATE: Thanks to a tip from a commenter, I present this video from Tim Ferriss on how to peel an egg without peeling it, using baking soda. Please, someone try this and report back!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recipe Testers Wanted: World's Best Carrot Cake

This carrot cake recipe was so incredibly delicious, it's hard for me to find the words to describe it. I mean, my MS Word synonym tool only has nine other suggestions for "delicious," and while they all work, they just don't do it justice.

I'd love for some of you to test this recipe for me. While
I couldn't be happier with the taste and texture, I'd love to see what you end up with for cooking times. I used a pan slightly deeper and a bit shorter than the standard 9 x 13 called for in the recipe, so it took me longer than the given time. Thanks, and enjoy!

Carrot Cake
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 8.67523 ounces... Okay, are you guys happy now? ;-)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups raw grated carrots
1 can (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger in a mixing bowl for a minute or two; reserve until needed.

In another mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil, and eggs. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the melted butter. Use a spatula to stir in the carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Stir in the flour mixture in two additions.

Scrape the batter into a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when gently touched with your finger. Remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar to form a smooth frosting. Spread evenly over the cooled cake.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Measure a Cup of Flour and Why You Shouldn't

One of the oldest cooking clichés in the book is how much chefs hate to measure things. For the most part this is true. When it comes to savory preparations (think soup), exact measurements are not crucial, as the final seasoning/texture is adjusted at the end of procedure anyway.

The closest I've ever come to throwing the remote through the TV screen was the time I saw a well-know Food Network cooking personality (she has dark hair) measure a tablespoon of chopped parsley to sprinkle over the top of some casserole. Really? Come on!

However, when it comes to baking, exact measurements are critical. A perfectly moist cookie recipe made with 2 cups of flour for one cook can be a dry, disappointing experience for another. Why?

As you'll see in this short, but hopefully illuminating video, the amount of flour that will fit in a cup can vary greatly. If at all possible, when baking, use recipes that call for flour by weight and use a small digital scale to portion.

This is not a sponsored post, but I will disclose that the EatSmart scale you see in the clip was sent to me to test out. I've only used it a few times, so I can't comment on its lifespan or durability, but so far, so good, and I
really love the simple design. Here's a link to the Amazon page where it's sold, and received many excellent reviews.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Easy Irish Stew - Luscious Lamb for Lonely Lads Looking for Lovely Lasses

This was originally posted last March, but since I don't have a new video to show today, I decided to rerun this great stew recipe in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy!

Hey guys, if your cooking dinner for that special someone on St. Patrick's Day, I'd go with this sexy stew over the more traditional corned beef and cabbage. I love both dishes, but boiled cabbage is more of a married couples thing.

Irish stew is a much more date-friendy recipe. You can sit and relax while this aromatic stew simmers, and won't have to worry about saying things like, "by the way, that's the cabbage."

Pay attention to the cut of lamb used in this video recipe. I used lamb shoulder chops, which are a fantastic value, when you consider flavor, useable meat, and price.

They will probably be the cheapest lamb at the store, have more flavor and richness than leg meat, and are cheaper than shanks and loins. It takes a while for the meat to braise and fall off the bone, but it's a wait rewarded with tender, succulent chucks of lamb.

I'd like to apologize to all the Irish dark beer fans that will undoubtedly be disappointed that I didn't add the obligatory bottle of Guinness. I kind of prefer my Irish stew without the stout, although I will admit it does add an interesting flavor component that many swear by. Also, since I don't drink dark beer, so I always feel bad breaking up a six-pack to just buy the one bottle. The cashier always gives me that, "what's this guy's deal?" look. Yes, I have issues.

I received an email complaining that my corned beef video could have benefited from some Irish music, so I splurged and purchased a Chieftains medley called, O Murchu' Hornpipe/Sliabh Geal gCua na Feile/The Wandering Minstrel. Whatever Irish folk music lacks in commercial viability, it totally makes up for in song title length. Enjoy!

1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3 lbs lamb shoulder
1 onion, chopped
2 rib celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
3 cups chicken stock (or sub 1 bottle dark beer plus 1 1/2 cups stock)
water as needed
1 1/2 lbs potatoes
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cafeteria Chic – Beef and Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers... a Work in Progress

The last time I saw stuffed bell peppers, they were sitting in a steam table in a hospital cafeteria. I didn't get them, but it was tempting. I really love the flavor profile of stuffed bell peppers, or as they say in hospital cafeterias, I like the flavor of stuffed bell peppers.

The sweet bitterness of the roasted pepper, along with the aromatic, meaty filling makes for a very nice plate of food. And of course, any time you can get your meat, vegetable, and starch in one neat package, you have to love that.

As I say at the beginning of the video, I'm still playing around with different fillings for this recipe before deciding on which version goes in the cookbook. This is pretty close however, and no matter what you use, the technique for prepping the peppers is basically the same.

Many people boil the peppers for a few minutes first. I don't, and have never felt the need to. Also, many recipes call for browning the beef first, then making the stuffing. I may try that out, but I've always used raw meat, and think it's probably a better way to go.

The biggest potential change to the recipe you see in the clip is the meat. For t
he cookbook, I'll probably use a sausage and beef blend. More flavor, and more fat, usually means a better recipe, but stay tuned for the final word on that.

The ingredients below are exactly what I used, but I've made notes next to some with suggestions. If you give these a try, and come up with some incredible combination, please let me know. Enjoy!

Chef John Needs Your Vote!

Have you heard? Food Wishes has been nominated in the video category for the Saveur Magazine 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards! Help us turn the honor of being nominated into the reality of a glorious win! Please follow this link to cast your vote now. Thanks!

6 bell peppers
1 1/2 pounds ground meat (I used all lean beef, but suggest you try 1 lb. beef with 1/2 lb. pork sausage)
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cups tomato sauce, divided (I would increase this to 3 cups, and use an extra cup in the baking dish)
1/2 cup beef broth (I would increase this to 1 cup)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
1/2 cup finely grated real Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Monday, March 1, 2010

Breaking News: Food Wishes Nominated for Saveur Magazine 1st Annual Best Food Blog Awards!

Thank God for Twitter! I'm sure I would have found out eventually, but I saw a tweet this morning congratulating me on being nominated in the video category for the Saveur Magazine 1st Annual Best Blog Awards! I had no idea, and quickly went to make sure I wasn't being punk'd…it was true!

I know you've all been amazingly supportive in the past when asked to go and vote for me for various awards and recognitions, and I hope I can count on you again! Saveur Magazine is quite a prestigious foodie publication, and any recognition I get there would be huge for the future success of this blog.

Please go to the main awards page to vote. I haven't even read the rules/dates/prizes etc. but I will later. If you see anything you think your fellow foodwishers need to know feel free to chime in. Thanks!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins – What a Delicious Way to Fail a Drug Test

Yes, it's true! A couple poppy seed muffins can cause a positive drug test for opiates. So if you're being tested tomorrow, never mind, but the rest of you are encouraged to try this poppy seed muffin I'm testing for the cookbook, and let me know what you think. I think I have the formula down, and I really love the taste and texture of this easy recipe. Enjoy!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Makes 12

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2-cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white granulated sugar
finely grated zest from 2 lemons
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
For the glaze:
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl, and reserve until needed.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest, until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the lemon juice, and 1/2 of the sour cream until combined.

Add half of the remaining flour mixture, and stir until combined. Stir in the remaining sour cream. Stir in the rest of the flour mixture, and then the poppy seeds.

Line a 12-muffin tin with paper baking cups. Fill each to the top with batter. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While the muffins are baking, mix the lemon juice and powdered sugar together for form a thin glaze.

Remove the muffins from the oven when ready, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Brush the lemon glaze evenly over the top of each muffin. This is not intended to be a frosting, but just a very light glaze to give the tops a little shine and extra kiss of lemon flavor.

When cool enough to handle, remove muffins from the tins and cool completely on a rack before serving.