Monday, August 30, 2010

Peach and Escarole Salad – 'Cause I'm Tired of Greens You Can Gum!

This magnificent peach and escarole salad was inspired by one Michele and I had on our recent trip to New York City. We were taken out to dinner by my publisher (which has nothing to do with the story, but I really enjoyed typing that) to a place called Hearth, in the East Village.

The salad course was a plate of roughly torn escarole, dressed with a slightly sweet sherry vinaigrette. As I ate, I kept thinking to myself, damn, this is one delicious salad. The odd thing was, it took me a good while to actually put my finger on what exactly made it so wonderful.

Then it hit me. It was made with real, full-grown, somewhat tough, slightly bitter greens. 95% of the salads I eat in restaurants these days are made with the ubiquitous "baby greens" – that bland, one-dimensional, melt-in-your-mouth mixture of lettuce, so soft and delicate you don't even need a set of teeth to eat them.
This was the polar opposite of that. I had almost forgotten how interesting a salad could be! So, when Michele brought home a couple small heads of escarole one afternoon, I decided to film a salad recipe video, combining the mas macho greens with sweet peaches, goat cheese, and walnuts.

One trick with escarole is to make sure you are using a sweet enough dressing to offset the bitterness. I accomplished that with a dressing of sherry and rice vinegar, and then, just to hedge my bets, I added some perfectly ripe peaches to the mix. The result was one of the best salads I've had in years. Enjoy!

Peach and Escarole Salad Ingredients:
1 small head escarole (smaller is better, as it gets too bitter when large)
1 ripe peach
4 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hotel Room Cooking Adventures: Cup o' King Salmon

Hello from Seattle! Running off to get ready for the opening reception of the 2010 International Food Bloggers Conference, but I thought some of you may enjoy this quick and dirty (but very tasty) video recipe I did for cooking salmon with a hotel room coffee kit.

Please, do not try this at home!! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seattle, Here I Come!

I'm heading up to the Pacific Northwest today to attend the 2010 International Food Blogger Conference. The event brings together leading food bloggers for a conference focusing on the fusion of food, writing, and technology (and possibly drinking). This will be my first trip to Seattle, but I love strong coffee, rainy weather, and grungy rock, so this should be a great weekend! Let's see, did I hit all the Seattle stereotypes?

Of all America's regional cuisines, the Pacific Northwest is probably the area I know the least about. So, in addition to taking in all the seminars and presentations, I will be doing my best to taste and experience as many of the local specialties as possible. If you want to follow along, I'll be providing bite-by-bite coverage on Twitter. Otherwise, check back here for updates from the event, as well as recipes and photos I collect along the way. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homemade Chicken Stock – Buy Low, Sell High

With over 400 video recipes produced thus far, it probably seems odd that I'd never done a proper chicken stock recipe. In the early days of the blog, I decided that I wouldn’t do video recipes that would eventually appear in the online culinary academy curriculum.

I had planned on having a selection of videos featuring key techniques that people would pay to watch, but with all the various projects going on, I've never quite been able to get that together. Anyway, this chicken stock video recipe would have been included in that collection.

While I can often be seen using my carton of all-natural chicken broth, there's nothing like homemade. It does take a long time to simmer, but the actual work is minimal, and the procedure quite simple. It's also a very frugal undertaking, with the bones I used costing 80-cents a pound. That's three quarts of chicken stock for about $3 in costs!

Please note that you can use this exact same recipe/procedure with roasted chicken bones. In fact, most of the homemade chicken stocks I make are the result of a roast chicken dinner, but for this video I decided to go classical. Unlike beef and veal, chicken stock is not traditionally made from roasted bones.

You should try both ways, and see which you like, and for what dishes. By the way, even though I didn't roast the chicken bones, I still got quite a nice, richly colored stock, which comes in large part to leaving the skins on the onions. I don't remember exactly why that is, which is fine since I really I don't care that much. Enjoy!

3 pounds chicken bones, backs and necks
1 large onion, skin on
2 carrots, peeled, cut in large chunks
1 large or 2 small ribs celery cut in large chunks
1 bay leaf
9 black peppercorns
4 springs thyme
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 quarts cold water

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We Did It! Foodwishes Wins the Next Food Network Star YouTube Challenge!

You may have already heard by now, but I was the grand prize winner in the Next Food Network Star YouTube Challenge! Thanks to you, as well as my large, unbelievably passionate, and supportive subscriber base on YouTube, we dominated the competition.

The voting was closed, so there was no way to monitor the number of votes cast, but gauging by the comments on the Food Network's YouTube channel, we crushed it. The response was nothing short of awe-inspiring! It seems one thing is very clear, despite my reservations; most of my fan would love to see me get some kind of show on the Food Network.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, that's not the prize. The grand prize is a trip for two to New York, dinner at one of the Food Network's chefs' restaurants, and an interview with the network executives (although I should warn them – I'm money in an interview). In that meeting I will pitch the idea for a Food Wishes style show, where the food's the star, and the chef is rarely, if ever, seen.

Thanks to all of you who voted! Stay tuned for more information as the adventure has only just begun!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beans and Greens for Fun and Profit

"Beans and Greens" is one of those special recipes that truly has it all – it's very easy and inexpensive to make; it's highly nutritious; it's soulful and comforting; and can be served as a main course, side dish, soup, vegetable stew, or my personal favorite…as an appetizer.

It's not my favorite because it's a great
appetizer, which it is, but because it's so damn profitable. When I was in culinary school, we were taught the secret to making money wasn't from the main courses, but from selling lots of inexpensive-to-make desserts, salads, and appetizers.
"Beans and Greens" is a popular appetizer in Italian-American restaurants in Western New York, and whenever I travel back east to visit family, I'm always on the lookout for this local delicacy. I'm usually grinning to myself as I eat, fondly thinking back to school and that food costing class, knowing that I'm happily paying $7.95 for something that costs 45 cents to make.This is my new favorite home version, and uses delicious, beautiful escarole. This type of curly endive has a pleasantly bitter flavor that mellows as it wilts into the hot, creamy beans. This recipe can be adapted a thousand ways, but no matter how you tweak it, be sure to use a good homemade chicken stock (btw, demo coming soon), or an all-natural, high-quality, low-sodium, ready-to-use broth.

If you try reducing some cheap canned broth by half, you'll have something salty enough to choke a water buffalo. Also, try and find some nice Italian cannellini beans. I like the ones that come in the glass jars, but canned will work also. If not, any white bean should do nicely.

It goes without saying, but do not even think about starting this recipe unless you've made an embarrassingly large pile of the Parma crisps. I hope you give both recipes a try soon. Enjoy!

2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 quart low sodium chicken broth
2 (15-oz) jars or cans white cannellini beans, well drained, not rinsed
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 anchovy fillet
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1 head escarole, or curly endive
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

View the complete recipe

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I had no idea I knew so little about the Geoduck! This video, entitled "Don't Judge a Clam by Its Cover: Geoduck," was produced by the incomparable Liza de Guia, from Food Curated. As you know, I'm a huge fan of Liza's storytelling skills, and was particularly fascinated by this episode. For even more geoduck information, please be sure to read her original article here. Enjoy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

How to Make Parma Crisps (in Anticipation of Future Scrumptiousness)

I had originally planned to post the beans and greens recipe seen herein with a simple suggestion to serve it with some delicious, Parmesan crostini. They're such a basic garnish that I take for granted you all know how to whip up a quick batch, when in fact some of you may have never attempted something like this before.

So, I decided to do a quick little how-to for making what I call, Parma Crisps. These are a bit different in concept than your average tossed salad crouton. For those we probably spike the bread with tons of garlic, herbs, spices, and pepper, before making it all crispy and sufficiently decadent, to where it will distract us from even the most mundane of salads.

Here we have to remember these are simply to accessorize another dish of food – something rich, comforting, and with big, bold flavors. In that case I want something crispy, crunchy, with a nice nuttiness from the caramelized cheese, but that's about all. Any more than that, in this humble chef's opinion, would be superfluous.

Stay tuned for the beans and greens video recipe coming on Monday. Since you'll want to serve that with these, you may even think about practicing a few times over the weekend, you know, just to be safe. Enjoy!

sliced baguette
olive oil (no need to use extra virgin)
freshly, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beef Brisket Cherry Tomato Meat Sauce - Blending Low and Slow with Fresh and Fragrant

Pardon my Latin, but once in a while I like to shake up my meat sauce modus operandi, and this brightly colored beef brisket cherry tomato sauce recipe is an example. The video shows two major deviations to my usual ragu-how-to: I used beef brisket instead of chuck; and I used some fresh cherry tomatoes, instead of all canned product.

The result is a deeply flavored sauce, heavy with that specia
l beefiness that only a brisket can bring. Despite being such a slowly cooked dish, the fragrant cherry tomatoes give the sauce a surprisingly bright, fresh flavor and glow.

The brisket does take a long time to cook, but all that connective tissue adds a certain body that I love in a meat sauce. I cheated here with some additional boneless beef short rib meat I had on hand, so feel free to add any tough, stewing cuts of beef.

As I mentioned in the video, if you haven't seen how we finish our pasta recipes around here, click on some of the links you'll see below the post, or in the pasta category, and watch the last steps.

Sauces like this should never be ladled over drained pasta! You need to let the hot pasta absorb some of the sauce before serving – so check it out, and enjoy!

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds beef brisket, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 qt chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pint small, sweet cherry tomatoes
2 shallots, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce
tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup cream
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
hot red pepper flakes and/or cayenne to taste
1 pound penne pasta

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slow Scrolling Mystery Solved?

Since the blog redesign some of you have expressed issues with the pages scrolling really slowly in Firefox. I believe we have an answer.

Go into your browsers "Prefences" and in the "Advanced" settings, make sure you uncheck the "Use smooth scrolling" box (see illustration to the left). This should make the blog scroll much faster.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Seared Halibut with Hot Bacon and Roma Bean Relish – 'Cause That's What I Had

When I bought the halibut you see in this video, the last thing I wanted to use with it was bacon. If I'm not mistaken, every other halibut recipe video I've posted has bacon, and I was determined to do something different.

But there I was, staring into the refrigerator, daylight fading, needing to get the fresh fish cooked, filmed, and on a plate while I still had time. Having recently traveled to New Orleans, the fridge was a barren wasteland, inhabited by little more than a few assorted condiments – oh, and two slices of bacon.
While halibut simply seared in bacon would have certainly made for a decent dinner, the idea wasn't exactly inspiring my inner Tarantino. I really wanted to do something a bit more creative than that.Then I remembered I hadn't checked my Roma bean vines since returning to San Francisco. I was happy that despite our city's typical gray-icy summer, I was able to harvest a small handful. That's when things got crazy.

Instead cooking the fish in the bacon and serving the beans as a side dish, I decided to try a sort of hot vegetable relish. I figured by slicing the beans thin and cooking them raw in the hot bacon fat I could concentrate that great bittersweet flavor, and turn what was in danger of being a very mundane plate, into something new and exciting.

How exciting? Well, they're just beans, but I loved how this came out. A little lemon was used to make a sort of hot bacon dressing, and together with my gratuitous hot sauce design, the plate came together wonderfully.

Roma beans seem to be in season right now, but I think this would work nicely with regular string beans, or even sugar snap peas. If you want to make this "meat-free," just substitute some diced shiitake mushrooms for the bacon and proceed as shown. Either way, I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!

Note: This isn't a sponsored post, but I was sent a few knives to try by New West Knife Works, including the red-handled beauty in this seafood video. I love the look and feel, but will continue to use and evaluate them before making any kind of formal review. You can check out the New West Knife Works website if you'd like more info. Thanks!

Ingredients for 4 servings:
4 oz bacon, sliced in 1/4-inch pieces
8 oz Roma beans, or other fresh green beans, sliced into 1/8-inch pieces
4 (7-oz) halibut steaks
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sriracha hot sauce, optional

View the complete recipe

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fried Padron Peppers - Spain's Deliciously Dangerous Divas

This is the time of year when one of my favorite seasonal foods, the Padron pepper makes its very short, annual appearance.

By the way, in the video I refer to them as "Padrones," which is what I've always called them, and what the guy I always bought them from at the SF Farmers' market called them. However, they are more commonly called Padron peppers (just in case you are calling around looking for some).

What follows is a repost from 2008...

Padrones are small green peppers, native to Spain, but occasionally available in American farmer's markets. The season is short, and in just a few weeks they disappear, like some mysterious, charismatic visitor, leaving just as things are heating up. They tell you they'll see you next year, but that doesn't help the melancholy as you mope over to the jalapenos.

In addition to their complex, bitter-sweet flavor, the usually mild padrones are the world's most exciting pepper to eat. This is due to a fascinating genetic oddity - one out of every dozen or so peppers is really spicy!

So, there you are, happily enjoying your time with this sexy, soft-spoken Spaniard, and wham! Out of nowhere you get slapped in the face! By the way, if this metaphor is ever made into a movie, Penélope Cruz will be playing the part of the temperamental pepper.

As you'll see in the video, a simple preparation is recommended. A quick sizzle in hot olive oil, and a few flakes of "Fleur de Sel" sea salt is all that's needed with this late summer treat. Too many ingredients, and the flavor will not be fully enjoyed. Think about it, in the movie, should Penélope Cruz be in a 3-piece suit, or a simple cotton sundress? Enjoy!

A special thanks to Steve Eliot for his generous gift of these beautiful padrones.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Warning: Chef Trying to Redesign Blog!

I've been falling a little behind on my Mercedes payments, and the jacuzzi in the servants quarters at the summer home needs a little work, so I had to redesign the blog to allow for more advertising space.

These are only aesthetic changes, and will not affect the confusing, awkward navigation you've grown to love. Over the next few days, if you see any weirdness, visually or otherwise, do not be alarmed. Thanks!

Photo (c) Flickr User Robert S. Donovan

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Seed to Sausage" – Inspiration, Wrapped in Bacon

The lovely and talented Denise and Lenny, from ChezUs, created this exceptional video to showcase the sustainably-produced charcuterie of Ferme Baradieu. The video was shot on their recent trip to France, and was submitted to Protein University for the "Who's Your Butcher" contest.

All that stuff I said about being inspired to raise my game after watching White on Rice Couple's video for Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef's new cookbook, applies here as well. Not only is this one of the most beautiful food videos I've ever seen, it's about pork. I never get tired watching pork. It's my second favorite thing to do with it.

For more information, you can check out their YouTube channel, or contact them on ChezUs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Burrata Bruschetta with Grilled Figs – Bringing Sexy Back!

If you watch as much food television as I do, you hear the adjective "sexy" thrown around quite a bit, and more often than not, it just doesn't fit. No matter how nice a bowl of chili looks, or how beautifully a game hen glistens, they're not really "sexy."

This burrata bruschetta with grilled figs on the other hand? Totally "sexy!"
If there were such a thing as word association flash cards of food, the most common result for this one would be "sexy." Okay, I'm going to stop using those quotation marks now.

Above and beyond how awesome this recipe tastes, it's so nice to be able to post such an aesthetically pleasing dish after the recent string of homely food. I appreciate all the nice comments about the sausage and zucchini stew, but if that thing was a blind date, it would have been described as, "having a nice personality."
Depending on the location, I can't guarantee you'll be able to find burrata and fresh black mission figs, but if you can, you really need to give this a try. I know someone will ask, so I'll tell you right now, there really isn't a great substitute for this heavenly cheese.

A very fresh mozzarella would be the closest, but it would still be like substituting for Beyonce with Wanda Sykes. That's no insult to Wanda Sykes (
she has a great personality), but in the sexy department, Mrs. Jay-Z is in a whole other league, and so is this burrata and grilled fig bruschetta. Enjoy!

burrata cheese
fresh figs
Italian bread
balsamic vinaigrette (1 part vinegar to 1 part extra virgin olive oil - shaken vigorously)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Let Gorgeous Gluten-Freedom Ring!

The beautiful video you're about to enjoy was produced by friends Diane Cru and Todd Porter, the rock star bloggers behind the extraordinary White on Rice Couple. We met Diane and Todd at Kingsford University, and hit it off instantly. They are simply a force of nature – driven, ultra-talented, and quick to generously share their considerable skills.

KU was also where we met the stars of the video, Shauna James, Daniel, and Lu Ahern. Their blog, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, is considered one of the Internet's top GF resources. I thoroughly enjoyed their company, and it was great fun being able to share a few days in the Sonoma wine country with such kindred souls.

The video highlights their soon-to-be-released cookbook: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes, which will be published on September 28th, 2010.

In addition to calling my GF fans' attention to this amazingly beautiful cookbook, I'm posting this to show you what my videos could, and should, look like. When I see the magic that Diane and Todd, as well as my friend Liza from Food Curated, are doing with digital video, I'm inspired to continue learning and improving my game.

If you're interested in the cookbook, you can pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell's right now. Enjoy!

Video and Cookbook Photo (c) White on Rice Couple

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Summer Scramble – Wet and Wildly Delicious

Cooking isn’t about always doing the right thing, and this summer scramble is a perfect example. Adding juicy, sweet cherry tomatoes to a scramble tastes great, but it's not a common practice since having a pool of liquid under your eggs is considered bad form. I don’t care – I have toast.

I could have used the slow, low-heat scrambling method I've demonstrated before, and tossed in the tomatoes and feta in right at the end, but I don’t feel the tomatoes and cheese really get heated all the way through. Besides, did I mention I had toast? Soaking up all that goodness is a big part of why I love this so much.

Anyway, cherry tomatoes are peaking right now, and the "Sweet 100's" variety I used here are, without a doubt, the sweetest fresh tomato you can buy at a grocery store. In fact, make that the only sweet, fresh tomato you can buy at a grocery store.

As I suggest in the video recipe, make sure you have all your prep done before a pan is placed over the flame. Start to finish, this will only take a minute to cook, and trying to slice and dice while the eggs are in the pan is a recipe for disaster. I hope you give this colorful, summer breakfast a try soon (or you'll have to wait until next year). Enjoy!

Ingredients per portion:
olive oil
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon basil chiffonade
2 tablespoon crumbled feta cheese (try to find goat's milk feta - it's awesome)
pinch of hot pepper flakes
flaky sea salt to taste

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Who Dat Flying Back to San Francisco?

Michele and I will be heading back to San Francisco this evening after a very, very cool (everything except the weather, that is) trip to New Orleans! I'll have some photos to share with y'all, and there will undoubtedly be several NOLA-inspired video recipes to follow.

Thanks to all y'all who emailed and posted comments with suggestions on where to eat and what to do. As usual on these press trips, the schedule was pretty tight, so we didn't have a lot of time to explore them all, but we loved the city and will be back, for sure.

Y'all stay tuned for a brand new video on the blog tomorrow. Wow, I can't believe I've picked up the accent after only 3 days!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hello from New Orleans! Home of America's Safest Seafood?

Just wanted to say a quick hello from New Orleans. So far everything's been really delicious (like this wonderful gumbo and etouffee trio I enjoyed at M Bistro), and the chefs I've chatted with report no problems keeping up with their customer's Gulf seafood cravings.

Catches are being tracked using GPS to ensure they're coming from unaffected areas, and in addition, random samples are being taken twice a day to add another level of protection. As M Bistro's Chef Matt Murphy said, "We want people to know it's never been safer to eat seafood in New Orleans, than it is right now."

So, ironically, due to the post-spill scrutiny, visitors to New Orleans may actually be enjoying some of the safest seafood in the country. Stay tuned for more information about the trip when I return. Now, it's time to go do some more "investigating."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Having a Hard Time Getting to the Big Easy

Just a quick post to let you know Michele and I are heading to New Orleans for a 3-day press trip to cover the Great American Seafood Cookoff. Unfortunately, we're stuck at LAX enduring a 6-hour delay, but with any luck we will be arrive to NOLA sometime late tonight (well, actually early this morning!) Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sausage, Potato, and Zucchini Stew – Ugly Never Tasted So Good

I've decided to determine the length of my blog posts by the beauty of the recipe displayed therein. It's a very logical system. If a recipe produces a batch of stunningly beautiful photos, then I'll write a long, wordy post (including gratuitous name-dropping and self-serving anecdotes) to give the reader plenty of time to soak it all in.

However, if the recipe looks like this Sausage, Potato, and Zucchini Stew, then the shorter the post, the better – a couple of short sentences and on to the video. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but not in this case. Visually, this is truly dreadful. It's a good thing this vegetable stew is so easy, nutritious, and delicious!

I used a spicy, garlicky andouille sausage here, but any spicy link will do. We've covered the glut of late summer zucchini before on this blog, and this is another great remedy. Well, I've subjected you to this grotesque image long enough, so I'll mercifully end the post. Enjoy!

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy smoked sausage
1 onion, chopped
6 zucchini, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pound small Yukon gold potatoes, cut same size as zucchini
1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
water as needed
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
few springs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon sliced fresh chives (and/or any fresh herb)
handful of "sweet 100" cherry tomatoes
*some crusty bread wouldn't be a bad idea

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Reader and Soup! – How to Make Italian Wedding Soup

I knew today's video recipe was called Italian Wedding Soup because it's traditionally served at weddings, but I wanted to find out why this soup, with these ingredients in particular, was chosen.

I had a few theories. I figured the greens probably represented money,
and symbolized hopes that the bride and groom would enjoy a prosperous union. The soup's signature mini-meatballs were a tougher nut to crack.

How could taking large, virile, normal-size meatballs and shrinking them
down to dainty little shriveled dumplings serve as a metaphor for marriage? I just don't see a connection. Well, come to find out (according to two reliable sources; Wikipedia, and my friend and fellow Guide, Kyle) the name has nothing to do with people getting married.

Apparently, what we Italian-Americans from the northeast call Italian Wedding Soup is actually a misinterpretation of an Italian soup called, "minestra maritata," which basically means "married soup." The "married" refers to the delicious pairing of the greens and meat, and not the ritual of marriage.

So, the soup ended up being a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. What better choice for a first course at your Italian-American wedding reception than something called Italian Wedding Soup?

That should give you enough soup-related cocktail party conversation material for a while. Whether you fondly remember this from weddings past, or you've never had it or heard about it before, I really hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

1 quart beef broth
1 quart chicken broth
Note: A little more or little less broth will not affect the recipe
1/3 cup pastina or other tiny pasta
1 bunch kale
salt and pepper to taste
For the meatballs:
1 1/4 pound beef
1 egg
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cream
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper