Friday, April 30, 2010

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip – Less is More for the First Time Ever

If this is the kind of thing you really love to eat at the local sports bar, but never thought about making at home, then I hope you find this video recipe very motivational. Not only is this baked spinach artichoke dip easy and delicious, but it's also a first in culinary history.

For the first time ever, sour cream and mayonnaise have been removed from a dip recipe…and it got better. I've always enjoyed hot spinach artichoke dip, but it always struck me as a little oily. Almost all recipes call for some amount of mayo, which I really see no reason to include. It adds fat with no significant flavor payoff.

I decided to try a mayo-less version, and then raised the stakes even higher by excluding the
sour cream as well. To counter this, a bit more cheese was added, and the results were amazing. A rich, creamy, cheesy, not greasy dip.While I loved this recipe, I may try it with just a touch of sour cream next time, and that could be named the official final foodwishes formula. I figure I have until football season to work it out.

By the way, I took a quick surf around the web and came up with zero info on the origins of hot spinach artichoke dip. I find this unusual for a dip of such widespread popularity. You would think someone would have claimed credit by now.

Having said that, I only search for about five minutes, so I could have totally missed it! If you actually have any info, even if you have to embellish it to make it more interesting, please share with the rest of us. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped green onion, white and light green parts only
2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
1 package (10 ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, squeezed dry
1 can (14 ounce) artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
very small pinch of nutmeg
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded

View the complete recipe

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taking a Trip to Breadtopia

This great sourdough starter video is from Eric at Breadtopia. Eric was one of my fellow nominees for most innovative video content in the Saveur best food blog awards, and as you'll see in this clip, he's a great teacher.

One of my very few regrets with the pro food blogger lifestyle, is having almost no time to visit and watch/read other people's blogs. When I first started out, I would spend a few hours a day surfing the web. Now, I'm pretty much limited to a few minutes here and there, and it's sad knowing I'm missing out on so much great content – like this lesson.

This video shows a very clever method for making a sourdough starter using pineapple juice to increase your odds for success. I hope you enjoy it, and please check out all the other great videos on Breadtopia. Enjoy!

Photo (c) Flickr user grongar

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Incredibly Simple Secret to Lump-Free Sauce

Outside of a few choice Black Eyed Peas videos, lumps are rarely associated with something good. When it comes to making sauces and gravies, nothing causes performance anxiety in an inexperienced cook like these malevolent masses. The good news is there's an incredibly simple way to prevent lumps.

Repeat after me, "Hot roux, cold milk, no lumps." That's it. As you'll see in the video, no matter how sloppy your sauce making techniques are, as long as your liquid is cold, and your roux is hot, lumps are almost impossible to create. Below the video, I've given the ingredients for the simple white sauce I used to illustrate my point. I turned mine into a beautiful macaroni and cheese, but this has so many other applications that mastery of its silky-smoothness is mandatory for any wannabe cook. Enjoy!

3 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Building a Better Stuffed Pepper

I reworked the stuffed pepper recipe for the cookbook, and this was the result. I've posted the written recipe below the photo, and I highly encourage you to try it out. Enjoy!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 cup beef
2 cups prepared marinara sauce, or other tomato sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

For the pepp
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup finely grat
ed "real" Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 cloves garlic, minced very fine
1 can 10-oz diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
4 large red bell peppers

Add the olive oil to a saucepan, and lightly brown the onions with a large pinch of salt over medium-high heat. Remove half and
reserve for the stuffing. Stir in the rest of the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Pour the sauce into the bottom of a large deep casserole dish.

Add all the filling ingredients to a mixing bowl, along with the reserved onions, and stir with a fork, or your hands, until the mixture is combin
ed. Tip: you can cook a small piece of the filling to test the seasoning.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the stem, seeds and white membrane from each pepper. Place the bell peppers in the casserole dish, and fill each pepper with the stuffing. A little additional cheese can be grated over the t
op if desired.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes, or until the peppers are very tender. Exact cooking
time will depend on size, shape and thickness of the peppers. Best to let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with the sauce spooned over the top.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Food and Wine

Just in case you were wondering, here's the menu and what it was paired with this weekend at the Frick Winery. I was preoccupied with food production (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), so I only spent a few minutes taking pictures with predictably mediocre results, but you'll have to take my word for it when i tell you everything looked much better in person. Enjoy!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Bites with Fresh Mango Salsa and Habanero Jam on Plantain Chips. Paired with the Grenache Blanc and Viognier

Cambazola Cheese on Fig Bread with Fresh Strawberries. Paired with the Cinsaut and Cinsaut Rosé

Grilled 9-Spice Pork "Banh Mi" with Carrots, Daikon, Sweet Chili Mayo, and Asian Barbecue Drizzle. Paired with the Counoise and Grenache

Reuben Nachos: Pastrami, Cave-Aged Gruyere, Savoy Cabbage and Russian Dressing on Corn Rye Chips. Paired with the Carignane and C² (C squared), North Coast Red Rhone Blend

Boccalone's "Nduja" Crostini - Calabrian Spicy Salame Spread with Candied Fennel Root. Paired with the Syrah and Côtes-Du-Dry Creek

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Frick Sunday

Just a very quick update from gloriously sunny Sonoma, where the 2010 Passport event has just concluded. It was another smashing success, and over the last two days we fed a staggering 1,200 people. Michele was amazing as usual, and so were my in-laws Peggy and Al who always come through like champs.

And n
ow my favorite part of the weekend – a quintessentially-Sonoma, post-Passport dinner with winemaker extraordinaire, Bill Frick and his family. We get to relax, trade war stories and a few laughs, and enjoy some of the best food and wine anywhere on earth. We'll be back in the city tomorrow, so stay tuned for a proper recap, and a bunch of exciting new videos!

This wisteria-draped wine barn was where we paired the food and wine, and my only regret is that I couldn't have taken this photo in the proper light.

P.S. I haven't even begun to catch up on emails and comments, so if you are waiting for a reply, thanks for your patience, and check back in if you don't hear from me. Thanks!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We're Getting Our Frick On

Michele and I are getting ready to head north for a huge catering event this weekend in Sonoma. If you've been following this blog for awhile, I'm sure you've read about this before. It’s called “Passport to Dry Creek Valley,” which is an annual event showing off the great wines and vineyards of the beautiful Dry Creek Valley.

We'll be doing the food for our frien
d Bill Frick, at the gorgeous Frick Winery for the 14th year in a row! Despite all the planning and prep, it's a ton of fun, and we look forward to it every spring. This photo is the winery's tasting room where all the food magic happens.

This is one of Sonoma's premiere wine/food events, and thou
sands of wine enthusiasts will be eating and sipping their way through the valley. By the way, if you have a chance, check out the Frick Winery website. Bill produces some of the most delicious wine in California.

Due to the limited time, there will probably not be any new videos until after the weekend. This will be the perfect time to review your favorite recipes and make sure you haven't missed any. Don't forget to use the search box in the bar at the top left of the window, to find the recipes you are interested in.

For whatever reason, I've never filmed any how-to's for the appetizer recipes that we've served up there over the years, except for these Calabrese Lollipops. It's an old video, but with backyard party season coming on fast, you may find this quick and easy bite a real nice addition to your repertoire. Enjoy!

Calabrese Lollipops – Antipasto on a stick! (click here for the original post)

In case you want to check it out, here is our Frick recap from last year. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dr. Baker's Famous Cornell Chicken – Ivy League Taste on a Community College Budget

Unlike most of America's regional culinary specialties, the origins of the Cornell chicken recipe are undisputed. According to nearly all reports, as well as the college itself, this famous grilled chicken recipe was created by Dr. Robert C. Baker, Professor of Animal Sciences at New York's Cornell University.

They say Dr. Baker was simply trying to invent an easy and delicious way to grill smaller, younger chickens, so that the local chicken farms could sell more birds, sell them sooner, and more affordably. The doc's tasty recipe ended up being such a success that sales in the area soared, and the recipe became a statewide favorite.

While that all makes sense, there was something that just seemed to be a bit odd. I mean, why would a college professor be so unusually motivated to increase chicken sales? Then I thought, what if he had no choice? Maybe I've been watching too many straight-to-cable movies, but what if the real story was much more sinister and diabolical.

What if Dr. Baker just didn't love chickens, but really, really, "loved" chickens? What if someone inside the local poultry industry found out about the professor's "love" and blackmailed him into devoting his life's work to promoting the succulent grilling of their chickens. That's completely insane, you say? Well, is it? Is it? Yes, actually that is ridiculous. Never mind.

Anyway, the results of my Cornell chicken experiment were exceptional. I love this basing sauce. The combination of the egg, oil, and vinegar created a super flavorful, and very moist chicken. I used the original recipe "as is," but as I explain in the video, Dr. Baker's method was intended to be done over a barbecue pit. If you want to see his original plans, you can see them here on the Cornell University website.

I have a bunch of the sauce leftover, so I'm excited to play around with some different variations, so stay tuned for that. I hope you give this a try, since grilling season will soon be in full swing, and you can never have too many ways to do chicken. Enjoy!

2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

Sunday, April 18, 2010

So What's the Deal with Cornell Chicken?

I'm planning to do a video recipe for Cornell chicken, so if you have any information, tips, secrets, anecdotes, memories, or other pertinent details, I'd love to hear about it! In case you've never heard of Cornell chicken, here's a little video tease I found on someone called skeeler1954's YouTube channel. By the way, as someone who appreciates a well-done voice-over, the British narrator in this clip is awesome.

If you're from upstate or western New York, and feel like getting all nostalgic, you may want to take a peak at the other videos posted there. Enjoy!

Note: I couldn't find a decent photo of Cornell chicken for this post, so I used this picture from our grilled lemon yogurt chicken recipe.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Original Buffalo Chicken Wings (Shaken, Not Stirred) – Totally Authentic, Or So I Hear

If you know someone from Buffalo, they know someone who told them the secret ingredients to the Anchor Bar's famous Buffalo chicken wings. I know people from Buffalo. This is my version, as described to me many years ago, over almost as many beers.

Now that we've established it's absolute validity, I should tell you, I'm not a huge fan. Just because a recipe is authentic, doesn’t mean it's a great recipe. Don't get me wrong, I've never turned down plate of Buffalo-style chicken wings, I'm just saying there are about 20 wings sauce recipes I like better (like the ones I've already posted on the blog - see below)

Having said that, people really seem to love these, and I encourage you to give them a try. The wings are always fried in Buffalo, but a really hot oven works just fine.

To see the technique for baking the wings, click this link and watch the famous Clifton Springs Chicken Wings video, or this link which has all three of our previous chicken wing videos. Enjoy!

2/3 cup Frank's Louisiana hot sauce
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce (like the Sriracha I used)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
salt to taste

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Scone Home

I've been waiting almost 3 years to work an E.T. reference into one of my blog post titles.

For whatever reason, I've had quite a few requests lately for a scone recipe video. I should say at the outs
et, I've never made scones before (or at least never remember making scones before), and I've never been a big fan of eating them either.

I've always found them so dry and crumbly that I just assumed some devious Scottish café owner invented them to increase sales, since most of the scones I've tried take about five cups of coffee to wash down.

Then I thought, maybe I've just never had a really good one. So I did what
any social media savvy professional video recipe blogger would do; I asked my friends on Twitter for a recipe.

I got many great suggestions for all kinds of wonderful sounding versions, but since I'd never made them before, I decided to just make a plain, very traditional version to start off with. I figured I'd get the basic recipe down before trying anything crazy.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from one by someone called "Friendlyfood" on All Recipes, who claims it was adapted from a version made at the Savoy hotel in London. I have to say, I am very impressed. It was light, tender, moist and very delicious.

By the way, a couple of my favorite foodies, Denise from ChezUs, and Jennifer from In Jennie's Kitchen, may also be posting scone recipes soon, and when they do, I will share those with you as well (and believe me, they won't be as plain as this one!).

Another friend of mine, Tamar from Starving off the Land, pointed out the controversy regarding the correct pronunciation. While most Americans (and by most, I mean all) say it so it rhymes with "cone," the proper articulation is said to rhyme with "John."

As you know, I've never been big on pronouncing things correctly, and I'm not about to start now, but I wanted to point that out in case you find yourself in Scotland someday. Hey, you don't want to sound like a tourist, or worse, a Brit.

One last thing, you'll see me add the currants along with the wet ingredients. I don't understand why recipes for cookies, muffins, etc., call for fruit, nuts, and/or chips to be stirred in after the wet ingredients are mixed in. These types of recipes suffer greatly from over mixing, so I say add the chunky bits when you combine the wet and dry. Having said that, I'm not a baker, so maybe there's a reason for this common recipe instruction. Is there? Anyway, enjoy!

8 ounces by weight all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup dried currants
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
(and 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon milk for the wash)

Looking for something a little less traditional? Check out these other great looking scone recipes:
Oatmeal Raspberry Scones from Joy the Baker
Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze from Steamy Kitchen
Dreamy Cream Scones from Smitten Kitchen
White Chocolate & Sour Cherry Scones from David Lebovitz

Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Sharpen a Knive Using a Whetstone

There was such an unexpectedly large and enthusiastic response to my knife steel video yesterday, and so many questions about knife sharpening in general, I thought I'd find a video showing the proper use of a whetstone. This extremely well-done demonstration is by Ian Knauer, food editor for Gourmet Magazine. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How and Why to Use a Knife Steel – Our Most Cutting-Edge Video Ever

I don't think there have been any official government studies regarding the use of knife steels, which is a good thing since that would have been a really silly use of taxpayer money (unlike investigating the sexual arousal in anesthetized female rats…true story).

However, if such a study was done, I believe we'd learn that most home cooks have no real idea what this very important tool is for. Many think it's a knife sharpener, and when their knives get dull, they pull it out, only to be sorely disappointed that "it doesn't work."

A knife steel is made to keep a sharp knife, sharp, and will do so for quite a while if used properly. By the way, most cuts in a kitchen are due to dull knives, so this video may save you a visit to the ER. If you don’t have a steel, go buy one, they're only about $20, and worth every penny!

If your knives are dull, please take them to professional knife sharpener (every city has one), and for a few dollars per knife you can have the edge put back on them. Then, using the simple technique you'll see in this video, you'll keep that sharp edge for a very long time. One thing I failed to mention in the clip, wipe the knife after using the steel – there will be a small amount of superfine metal dust produced. Enjoy!

Déjà vu

No, you’re no going crazy, I have done this lesson before, but it was for, and I've wanted to do a Food Wishes version for a long time. I'm glad we straightened that out [rim shot].

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cooking with Grass-Fed Beef - Episode 6: Sirloin Tip Beef Satay

This video recipe for Beef Satay is the sixth in a series of videos I'm doing with grass-fed beef from Steve Normanton, focusing on how to cook the various cuts. This time I had some lovely looking sirloin tip to work with, and being in the mood for something Thai-ish, I decided to try some beef satay.

This video recipe is really more about the marinade than the meat, as this will work with almost any cut of beef. If you want to splurge, you can use tenderloin, which is super-tender, and really is a nice choice. If you're on the other end of the luxury meat spectrum, you can use a cheap cut like rump steak, or you can split the
difference and use something in the middle, like this sirloin tip.

I'll sacrifice a little tenderness for flavor any day, and as long as you slice nice and thin, against the grain, you can't go wrong. As I show in the video, I like to put lots of meat on the skewer, so I can caramelize the surface without having to worry about the lean, grass-fed beef drying out.

All the ingredients, some of which may sound exotic, should be fairly easy to find in any large, higher-end grocery store. By the way, these skewers can be done with chicken or pork, and I can personally verify they are just as delicious. Enjoy!

2 pounds thinly sliced beef
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fresh very finely minced or pureed lemongrass
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Chef John's Computer Died

Sorry for the delay in posting the beef satay video recipe, but my iMac died this morning, and I've just been told Best Buy has to ship it out to fix, and that it will be three weeks before it's ready! I still have my laptop, but everything is slower, and the disc is almost full. I'm not happy. Bottom line: Video is coming soon! Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

We Know a James Beard Nominee!

It is my distinct pleasure to announce that our very talented friend, Liza de Guia, has had her website food. curated. nominated for Best Video Webcast by The James Beard Foundation. I've featured several of Liza's videos here, and think she does an amazing job capturing and sharing these artisan food producers' stories. Congratulations Liza!

Here is another example of her (soon to be award-winning) work, a video profile of Michael Osinski and his Widow’s Hole Oysters. Enjoy!

This French Onion Soup Brought to You by Homemade Beef Stock

When you make homemade beef stock, and you have Gruyere cheese in the fridge that needs to be used up, you know French onion soup is in your future.

Such was the case today, and I so thoroughly enjoyed this amazing bowl of soup, that I decided to rerun this French Onion Soup video recipe. I thought this may inspire a few of you to give it a go. Enjoy!

Click here for the original post entitled, "French Onion Soup - So Good it Will Make a Mime Chatty." There you will find the ingredients list and a lot more info.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cooking Grass-Fed Beef: Episode 5 – Homemade Beef Stock (There's Nothing Funny About It)

This video recipe for Homemade Beef Stock is the fifth in a series of videos I'm doing with grass-fed beef from Steve Normanton, focusing on how to cook the various cuts.

Normally when I get my package from Steve, I look to see what I have to work with and then decide what recipe would best show off the meat. This time I had no such decisions to make. When I saw this beautiful box of bones I knew there was only one option – a classic beef stock.

You know I like my cartons of ready-to-use stocks and broths. For the busy home cook they offer an easy way to have an array of cooking liquids on hand, which significantly expands anyone's recipe repertoire. Those recipes that say "add 3 cups of beef broth, or water," don't really mean that.

But when beef bones are available, making your own is a great idea. Not only will you be thrilled with the flavor of homemade stock, but you'll save a ton over those handy, but expensive cartons.

One statistical oddity to share – after watching this video I realized there wasn't one humorous moment in the entire thing. No bad puns, no pithy observations, no obscure references, no intentionally mispronounced words, nothing.

How ironic that the day I learn we've won Saveur Magazine's 1st Annual Best Food Blog Award for Most Innovative Video Content, I post this culinary cure for insomnia. Now that's funny! Enjoy.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, cut in 8ths
2 large carrots, cut in 1-inch chunks
2 stalks celery, cut in 1-inch chunks
5 pounds beef marrow bones
2 teaspoon tomato paste
8 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
5 quarts cold water

We Won a Saveur Magazine's 1st Annual Best Food Blog Award!

I am proud to announce that Food Wishes has won a Saveur Magazine's 1st Annual Best Food Blog Award for Most Innovative Video Content!

A million thanks to everyone who voted and helped spread the word! Congratulations to all the other winners and nominees.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Just a quick post wishing you all a happy Easter. I've been having a great few days away from the computer – spending time with family, eating, drinking, and taking some pictures of things that aren't going to be eaten minutes later (good thing for the goats).

Michele and I will be back in San Francisco Sunday, and ready to dive into a whole new batch of video recipes. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What If Your Chef Was Your Doctor?

This delicious spiced and smoked leg of lamb with red wine sauce comes compliments of my friend Heidi from the fabulous food blog Savory TV. It features chef Michael Fenster, who, by the way, is also a Board Certified Cardiologist!

Check out Heidi's great post here, and read all about Doctor Fenster, as well as get the written recipe in case you want to give this a try for Easter. Enjoy!

Ham Steaks with Caramelized Apples – Timely and Finally

I'm done! The cookbook is finally done! Well, at least the first phase of submitting all the recipes, and photographing all the plates. Pictured here is the last recipe I had to shoot, a lovely ham steak with caramelized apples.

I couldn’t video the recipe, but I have included the very simple written recipe below, since these apples would be great with that Easter ham. Especially after that amazing breakfast of coffee and warm, homemade Easter bread you're probably going to be enjoying.

Michele and I are getting ready to head up to Bodega Bay for Easter with the family, and a much needed break. I want to thank everyone who helped test recipes, and gave me such great feedback regarding the various dishes going in the book.

I'll have publishing details soon, and now that the bulk of the cookbook production is done, after this little break I hope to return to my normal routine of doing at least 2-3 new video recipes a week. In the meantime, I hope those of you celebrating enjoy your Easter meals, and that some of you find this apple sauce recipe useful and delicious. Enjoy!

Caramelized Apple Sauce
Enough for 6-8

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider or juice
small pinch of cinnamon
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 firm apples (I like Granny Smith, but any good cooking apple will work), peeled and sliced into 16ths. Cut each apple into quarters, and then each quarter into 4 slices.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
fresh baked ham slices or pan-warmed ham steaks

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cider vinegar, apple cider or juice,
cinnamon, and Dijon mustard. Reserve until needed. Prep the apples as directed.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over high heat. As soon as the butter melts, wait half a minute and add the apples. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until the edges start to brown slightly.

Pour in the reserved mixture, turn the heat down to medium-high, and cook until the apples are tender and the liquid has reduced down to a glaze. If the liquid begins to get to thick before the apples are tender, just add a splash of water and continue cooking.

Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. It may seem odd to add salt and black pepper to this apple sauce, but it's a very important flavor component. Serve hot, spooned over sliced ham, or ham steak.