Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vote at Chef 2 Chef 4 Chef

The folks over at Chef-2-Chef are asking people to vote for their favorite food blogs, and Food Wishes is in contention. If you would like to give this blog some love, here's the link to cast your vote, and by "vote," I mean give us "5 Chef Hats!" Thanks for the support.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prime Time for Revisiting Prime Rib of Beef

It's an iconic holiday table scene; you carving a juicy, perfectly pink prime rib while a roomful of friends and family watches, in awe of your awesomeness.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, it's sometimes more like you cutting through a dry, o
vercooked roast while they stare daggers at you.

You can almost hear them thinking, "Way to screw up $80 worth of beef, jerk. I hope there's lots of gravy."

Well, hopefully this proven mathematical method will increase your chances for success significantly. This is a new video revisiting the same method I featured in this Prime Rib post a few years ago, which only used photos. There are lots of great comments on the original post, and if you're skeptical, you should go check them out.

Here is the formula for what was called, "Method X." The rib is brought to room temperature. Overnight is good, but at least 6 hours (this is CRITICAL)! Season anyway you like. Then multiply the exact weight times 5 minutes. For me it was 5.35 x 5 = 26.75 minutes, which we round up to 27.

The rib is cooked at 500 degrees F for exactly that many minutes. Then the oven is turned off. You wait 2 hours without opening the door. You then remove the prime rib and slice into the most perfectly medium-rare meat you've ever seen. By the way, I will be posting a short how-to for a quick au jus soon. Enjoy!

Special Notes:

  • To use this method you must have a full-sized, modern oven. It must have a digital temperature setting that indicates when it is preheated. Older ovens with manual controls can vary greatly, and the doors may not have the proper insulation.
  • I've heard from lots of people that have used electric ovens and reported great results.
  • This is a specific formula for achieving a perfectly pink prime rib cooked somewhere a shade under medium rare. I have no info on altering it for other degrees of doneness.
IMPORTANT PRO TIP!!!: Prime rib is very expensive, so no matter what method you use (traditional or Method X), you should always have a probe-style thermometer inserted so that the internal temp can be monitored, to avoid any chance of over-cooking. Set the probe alarm (125 F. for medium-rare) just in case, and pull the roast from oven even if there's still time left on the timer. 

4 to 8 pound Prime Rib of Beef, bone-in, fat cap removed (ask the butcher to explain)
kosher salt as needed
1/4 cup soft butter
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (this is just a dried herb blend - you can use any thing you like, or just salt and pepper)

For more traditional methods of cooking Prime Rib of Beef, check out these other great recipes:
Simply Recipes' Prime Rib
Serious Eats' The Food Lab: How to Cook a Perfect Prime Rib
Mark Bittman's Prime Rib Roast for a Small Crowd

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You'll Heart This Artichoke Gratin

This easy, all-veggie appetizer idea is proof you don't have to make a dish, to reinvent it. For all the millions of meals I've cooked and/or eaten, I can't remember ever having cooked and/or eaten an artichoke gratin.

From what I've seen, it's usually made in a shallow baking dish like any other vegetable casserole, and always features some form of crispy, caramelized gratin topping. So, while I can’t claim to have made the original, I was pretty sure it would translate to a nice, small party bite.

I made this as a last-minute appetizer at Thanksgiving, but fried it in a skillet to get the crusty coating on the artichokes. This time I went to the broiler with even better, and less messy results.

This would make a great hors d'oeuvre at any holiday gathering, and as you'll see in the video, a deviled eggs tray makes for a cool serving platter. By the way, extra credit for getting the "bacon of eggs" joke in the recipe.

Of course, this can also be served as an extra special side dish with just about any main course. I hope you give these easy and delicious artichoke hearts a try. Enjoy!

Artichoke Hearts Gratin Ingredients:

Makes 12 halves
6 artichoke hearts, drained
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoon plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Saturday, November 27, 2010

SFQ Makes its Debut!

Today, my wife Michele's fabulous barbecue sauce, SFQ – The Original San Francisco Style Barbecue Sauce, will make its debut at The New Taste Market. We're excited to see how this unique sauce will be received by the always discerning San Franciscan foodies. I think the fact that we are serving the sauce with fried pork rinds should help (called Q-Chips).

I'll probably be tweeting pics from the event, so you can follow me on Twitter if you're interested – or better yet, if you're in the Bay Area, come over to the market and have a taste for your self. It's at St. Gregory’s church, 12-5PM.

By the way, I will have a new video recipe up tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We just got back from a great family gathering at our parents, Al and Peggy, in Davis, CA, and I wanted to share a quick photo of our bird. It was a buxom 20-pounder, and tasted almost as good as it looked. I'll be back to work tomorrow, starting in on a whole slew of new videos. One we'll have coming soon, will be inspired by the pan-roasted artichoke hearts seen below. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Breaking News: Foodwishes' 500th YouTube Video Upload Goes Live!

It's with much pride and gratitude that I present our 500th YouTube video upload! I want to thank you all for the amazing support and love you've shown to me, and to this blog. I hope you enjoy the video, and here's to the next 500!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Once-a-Year Scalloped Oysters

Some recipes you only make once a year because they're just so-so. Other recipes, like this dish of scalloped oysters, you only make once a year because they're too good.

Scalloped oysters are so rich and decadent, it's a recipe you save for those very special occasions. Happily, we have a bunch of those coming up. This great holiday treat features the briny bivalves baked in a creamy, buttery casserole.

One word of warning: if you don't love cooked oysters, you should probably not make this. By the way, scalloped oysters is one of those recipes that are actually better warm, than piping hot, which is another reason it makes such a great choice for large family gatherings. I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!

Scalloped Oysters Ingredients:
Makes 12 Side Dish Servings
3 cups saltine crackers, coarsely crushed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 quart shucked oysters with liquor
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped Italian Parsley
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
lemon wedges, optional

View the complete recipe

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's in Your Sexy Thanksgiving Side Dish Drawer?

Thanksgiving, the holiest of American foodie holidays, is almost here. I'll assume you already have a great turkey and gravy recipe, so today we are focusing on the side dishes (if you don't, please check out our critically acclaimed, two-part video series, How to Make Turkey and Gravy).

Any Thanksgiving dinner expert will tell you, it's not a great turkey that makes the meal, it's what you pair it with. What good is a beautiful bird dressed with a bunch of so-so sides?

I was just about to make an inappropriate "gorgeous dress, with shabby lingerie" analogy, but I think you get the point.

So, without further adieu (that's French, like
the good lingerie), here are some of my favorite side dish recipe videos, all of which would make a lovely addition to your holiday spread. Enjoy!

Creamed Spinach

Creamy Corn Custard

Pecan and Apricot Sourdough Bread Stuffing

Green Bean and Blue Cheese Gratin

Lime and Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Celery Root and Potato Puree

Cold Broccoli Salad

Cheesy Broccoli Gratin

Butter Roasted Cauliflower

Friday, November 19, 2010

New England Clam Chowder and "To Shell or Not to Shell?"

New England clam chowder has been a popular food wish over the years, and I finally got around to filming it last January. The problem was I filmed it as an assignment for About.com, which means I have no control over when it airs. Sometimes it only takes a few days, and sometimes, like in this case, it takes many months.

Anyway, thanks for your patience, which I hope you'll feel has been rewarded. This is my take on a fairly traditional New England clam chowder, which is probably lighter in texture than you are used to.

My contacts deep inside the authentic clam chowder underground (ACCU) don't agree on much, but most do say "real" clam chowder is nothing like that thick, gray pudding served on Friday at your friendly neighborhood restaurant chain. I've also had "classic" chowders that were very thin, almost watery. I think this is a happy medium.

Above and beyond the recipe, I'd love to open up a discussion on whether this soup should be served with the shells or not. When I posted the written recipe back in January, a friend of mine, Tamar (who publishes the always entertaining blog, Starving Off the Land), left this com
"Okay, John, I think it's high time we had the shells-in-food debate. Your recipe looks fabulous, of course, as all your recipes do (don't get me started on the Boston cream pie), but I've always had a problem with shells in my food. It's hard, when you're sitting at the dinner table, to get the shellfish out when the shells are hot and covered with soup, or Bouillabaisse, or marinara sauce, and still be elegant and refined. (And you know how concerned I am with elegance and refinement.)

You seem to have a sophisticated, food-oriented readership. Perhaps you should ask them to weigh in. This is a debate whose time has come."

So, what do you think? I'm a firm believer in serving the soup with the shells, but I shall save my official argument for the comments section. I hope you enjoy the soup and the debate!

Note: Since this video is hosted on About.com, when you click the player, you will be taken off the blog to the video page. For the ingredients, click here to see the original post.

Clams Photo (c) starvingofftheland.com

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to Cook a Frozen Turkey

Can you really cook a completely frozen turkey? Apparently you can. My friend Stephanie, About.com's Guide to Cooking for Kids, sent me this video a few days ago, and while ideally you'll never need this information, it just may save a few of you this Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb – You'll Go Nuts for this Beautiful Rack!

The holidays bring us so many joyous things. Sharing time with family, watching your boss do a drunken karaoke version of "It's Raining Men" at the office party, and of course, those special meals. This super easy rack of lamb recipe has special written all over it – well, actually more like has special all pressed into it.

Sure, rack of lamb is a little pricey, but no more so than other special occasion meats like prime rib, beef tenderloin, or goose – and since they're sold completely trimmed, you'll have virtually no waste. Also, if you haven't had lamb in like the last 20 years, you're in for a nice surprise; the meat is lean, tender, and not at all gamey.

The other great thing about today's rack of lamb is it's consistent size. They will have eight rib bones, and run just under 1 1/2 pounds each. The fact that these are all the sa
me weight makes life a lot easier when cooking more than one. Speaking of which, portioning here is very easy; simply allow one rack per two guests.
As far as the crust goes, we've added rich, sweet pistachios to the traditional Dijon mustard crust. This gives the lamb such an interesting flavor and texture. It may be my imagination, but I think there's something about what makes the pistachios green (chlorophyll?), which makes it pair so perfectly with the meat. It also looks pretty damn cool.

I'm a big turkey-for-Thanksgiving guy, but if you're looking for a unique dinner entrée idea for that Christmas or New Years feast, this pistachio crusted rack of lamb would be an excellent choice. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Portions of Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb
2 fully trimmed racks of lamb (just under 1 1/2 pounds each)
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, or dried Italian herb blend
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil for searing
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
For the crust:
2/3 cup finely chopped roasted pistachios
2 tablespoon plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper
*Note: the cooking time given in the video of 25 minutes will work if you are doing one or two, but if you load up the oven for a large group, you'll obviously need to increase the cooking time, as the oven temperature will drop. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature. Remove at between 125 and 130 degrees F. for a nice pink center.

View the complete recipe

One Last "Project Food Blog" Video Entry!

I believe tomorrow is the final day for Round 7 of Project Food Blog, so this may be the last guest video featured (at least from this contest). Here we have a lovely pasta video by Mardi from Eat. Live. Travel. Write. You can read Mardi's original post here. Enjoy!

The World on your Plate. Destination: Umbria

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Videos from People that Went to My Foodbuzz Panel Discussion, Part 1: Risotto

During the recent Foodbuzz Festival, I had the honor of being asked to participate in a panel discuss on video blogging. I was joined by the lovely and talented, Pim from Chez Pim (and author of The Foodie Handbook), and future video blogging star, Sabrina from Rhodey Girl Tests. The panel was moderated by Krissy Wall, and you can see all four of us here (I'm the bald guy on the right).

At the end of the session, I told attendees that if we inspired any of them to make a video, to email me the link, and I would feature on the blog. Here's our first installment, a beautiful looking risotto demo, compliments of Edward from Weekend Food Projects. For more information, you can see the original post here. Thanks
Edward! Enjoy!

Making Risotto

Panel Photo (c) Marissa from Where I Need to Be

Guest Blogger Videos: Three More "Project Food Blog" Entries!

You can read a brief explanation of why I'm posting these Project Food Blog - Round 7 video entries here, or, you can just watch them and not care why. Either way, enjoy!

Salmon Steamers by Kristin from The Cuisinerd

(Click here to see original post)

Mozzarella Balloon Wars by Linda from Salty Seattle

(Click here to see original post)

Cooking a Perfect Steak by Marc from No Recipes

(Click here to see original post)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Savory Chocolate Sea Salt Crostini – Sooner Rather Than Later

The biggest challenge with presenting this chocolate sea salt crostini recipe is getting people to stop thinking, "dessert," and start thinking, "great special occasion savory snack." Not that there's anything wrong with this as a dessert (it's actually Michele's "favorite" dessert), but for my money it makes for a better, and very unique, hors d'oeuvre.

Speaking of money, you're going to need a little bit extra to do this recipe right. For this to work as a savory bite, the chocolate must be very dark, bittersweet, and world-class. Look for names that are hard to pronounce, and labels with percentage symbols are always a good sign (the higher %, the better for this).

For the bread, you're going to want to find your town's best baguette. The extra virgin olive oil should robust, peppery, and of the highest quality. Lastly, the salt must absolutely be the crystallized, flaky sea salt shown herein.

Once all these ingredients are assembled, the actual procedure is quite simple, and produces an impressive bite. The marriage of warm, crispy-edged bread, peppery olive oil, bittersweet chocolate, and briny sea salt is sublime. I think this is perfect for a holiday cocktail party, served right along side the rest of the savory appetizers.Of course, if you're just not a chocolate hors d'oeuvre kind of person, and want to adapt this for a sweet treat, feel free. In that case, you can use a slightly sweeter chocolate, and maybe an olive oil from the lighter, fruitier end of the spectrum.

By the way, special thanks to my buddy Linda, from Salty Seattle, for the amazing homemade sea salt used in the video. I knew she had mad skills working with animal and vegetable, but mineral too? This makes her one of the rare, triple-threat foodies.

Just in case you don't have friends that make you sea salt, most gourmet grocery stores will carry several varieties. My personal favorite is Maldon, which can also be ordered online. Anyway, find these ingredients, plan a party, and share something extraordinary. Enjoy!

Savory Chocolate Sea Salt Crostini Ingredients:
sliced baguette
bittersweet chocolate
extra virgin olive oil
flaky type sea salt like Maldon

View the complete recipe

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guest Blogger Videos: Featuring the Best of Project Food Blog

Project Food Blog, the big food blogger battle royal over at Foodbuzz, is in Round 7, and has the 48 contestants submitting recipe videos in hopes of advancing to the final 24. Since video is kind of my thing, I've decided to feature as many of these entries as possible. Here are the first two!

We have a great looking Ginger Scallion Sauce by Benjamin Rhau from You Feed a Baby Chili?, and an equally enticing Lemongrass Crab & Scallop Cakes with a Spicy Cucumber Dipping Sauce by Greg from Sippity Sup. By the way, thanks to Greg for the shout out on the post! Enjoy.

Ginger Scallion Sauce
(click here for original post)

Lemongrass Crab & Scallop Cakes with a Spicy Cucumber Dipping Sauce
(click here for original post)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes – Seasonal, Not Salacious!

I know what you're thinking. I'm in the pocket of Big Pumpkin, and have been using so much canned pumpkin lately, not because I like it so much, but because I'm being paid to. I wish! (Big Pumpkin, call me ;-)

No, the truth of the matter is, I'm simply using the time-honored strategy of turning any recipe into a "holiday recipe" by adding some pumpkin. It really does work – whether chili, bread, soup, or cookies – just plop in a spoon or two of pumpkin, and you are in seasonally appropriate heaven!

Here we are taking a very standard pancake recipe, and with the addition of pumpkin, and a few classic pumpkin pie spices, have turned it into what would be a memorable holiday brunch item.

I also have it on very good authority that this works quite nicely as a winter breakfast-for-dinner special. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes Ingredients
Mix in one bowl:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Mix in another bowl:
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Combine and make pumpkin pancakes!

Coming Soon: Pumpkin Pancakes

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Pumpkin Bread in Theory and Practice

I could have just Googled a pumpkin bread recipe. I'm sure there are hundreds of excellent ones, tested and retested, right there for the taking. But I didn't, because I had something better, a theory. Theoretically speaking, there is nothing better than a good theory.

My theory was that if I took my banana bread recipe, which is one of my absolute favorites, and used pumpkin puree in place of the mashed, ripe bananas, I would have an equally impressive loaf.

So, what were the results of this grand pumpkin bread experiment? A very decent loaf of quick bread, which would make a handsome addition to any holiday dessert table! Having said that, next time I make it, I will be tweaking some things.

This was very good, but didn't have the I-can't-stop-eating-this-ness of the banana bread recipe. Considering the obvious fact that bananas and pumpkins are not the same thing, I will adjust the sweetness and fat content a bit to compensate.

Anyway, stay tuned for future updates, and if you happen to make any variations on this, I'd love to hear about it! Thanks, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Recipe Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, soft
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Mixed in a bowl:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup chopped roasted walnuts
Bake at 325 degrees F. for about 1 hour

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Michele's Winter Vegetable Lasagna – Looked So Good, Looks So Bad

I knew it was too dark to film, but I did it anyway. That's how great the vegetable lasagna my wife, Michele, was making looked when I got home a few evenings ago. It's hard to believe something that looked so appetizing in person, could look so dark and depressing on film.

I strictly film during the day, because I think food looks so much better in natural light, and I really don't want to give in to having floodlights set up in my kitchen at night. Our home is already one big food video studio as it is, which is why I stubbornly cling to my diurnal modus operandi (just got a sweet new thesaurus app).

So, the results were predictably poor, and instead of wasting valuable time voicing over such a dreary looking video, we decided we would make it again during the day. Which works out for another reason, as we thought of a few additions/improvements after tasting. Stay tuned for the "real" Michele's Winter Vegetable Lasagna recipe coming soon. Enjoy!

12 cooked lasagna noodles
8 oz mozzarella
3 or 4 cups cheese sauce (you can use this recipe here and use whatever cheese you like)
3 cups cubed roasted butternut squash
1 bunch cooked broccoli rabe
parmesan as needed
pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
*Note: the next version will included lemon zest and goat cheese

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival – Impossible to Describe…Literally!

This post is a perfect indication for how much things have changed for me since last year's Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival. Last year, knowing that bloggers who had never seen my blog before would be reading it (most to see how/why they were mentioned), and with plenty of free time to put it together, I did a very detailed recap with photos of just about everything I ate.

This year, I'm so busy producing video recipes already
promised to multiple corporate overlords, I'm afraid this will have to do. In addition to not having nearly as much time, any full-blown recap would have taken me four to five times as long to do this year. Why? Because of a breakout session I attended called The Write Taste.

Led by friends (and total kick-ass bloggers), Brooke (right) from Food Woolf, Linda (left) from Salty Seattle, and Greg from Sippity Sup, the panel focused on a long list of trite words that we food bloggers are no longer allowed to use – or as Brooke put it, were "Verboten!" There's regular forbidden, and then there's German forbidden.

This long list of words included: delicious, tasty, yummy, moist, tender, creamy, unctuous, and awesome. Since this represents roughly 87% of my food adjectiv
e vocabulary, writing a complete recap would have virtually impossible. It was a really fun session, but unfortunately ended before I had a chance to ask the panel what the hell I'm suppose to use in their place.

Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival 2010 – Gala Dinner Photo Recap

Saturday night was the Gala Dinner at the
2010 Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival, and it was quite an evening. The setting was San Francisco's beautiful Ferry Building, and if I knew how to use my camera at night, I would have had some amazing photos.

The festivities started with a cocktail hour in the plaza, and ther
e are very few things I enjoy more than being surrounded by hundreds of chatting food bloggers enjoying wine and passed hors'douves. A couple of my favorites were these zucchini and parmesan madeleines filled with crimson cured salmon and lemon crème; and creamy polenta cups with goat cheese and Provencal vegetables.

After just the right amount of snacking, we moved upstairs to the Grand Hall. The food was done by one of San Francisco's top caterers, Paula LeDuc, and for a crowd this large, I thought the meal was executed very well.

The first course was a roasted golden beet tart with feta, wild arugula, and puree of basil. I've never been a big beets guy, but nevertheless enjoyed this very much. The satisfying tart was impossibly light, almost weightless. The diced red beets alongside provided an excellent textural and visual foil.

Next came my favorite course of the evening, a perfectly seared diver scallops with braised fennel, fried fennel fronds, and a verjus beurre blanc. Knowing how hard it is to serve scallops with such a perfect consistency, even for a small party, I was beyond impressed. I believe I described the texture as how pinching God's cheeks would feel. I really don't know what that means either, but at least I didn’t say "tender."

The main course, rack of lamb loin with pinot noir sauce and butternut squash puree, was expertly prepared also, but suffered from the bad luck of having to follow the scallops. The meat, infused with rosemary and garlic, was flavorful and retained an appropriate level of hydration (man, I would have loved to use "moist" right there). The local wild mushroom ragout alongside was spot on, and the butternut squash puree was butternut squash puree.

Above and beyond the [whatever another awesome word that means delicious] food and wine, I was lucky enough to get several great tastes of home-brewed beer smuggled in by my favorite beer blogger (which I can't confirm or deny was Jesse from Beer and Nosh).

The dessert course featured a "Tarta de Almendras" – a buttery almond cake with oranges, figs, and sherry sabayon. The plate was topped with what I initially though was a "shredded wheat crisp" (thanks a lot, too much wine), but what turned out to be a tangle of caramelized parmesan.

Luckily, my buddy Joel, from Six by 10 Tiny Kitchen, corrected me before I made a fool of myself in front of the table, which would have been highly embarrassing since it included food blog rock stars, Pim from Chez Pim, Elise from Simply Recipes, and Mark from No Recipes.

It was an enjoyable evening of great food, wine, and conversation, made even more so when I won a $100 prize for having one of the weekend's best tweets. During the The Write Taste session we were told to use the Twitter hashtag #fbzwrite for our tweets describing bites at the Grand Tasting, after which the five best would be chosen. Here's my winning entry:

Pefect pears plucked with bare fingers, licked clean longer than need be, don't blame me, blame the tree. #fbzwrite

By the way, I've decided to donate my winnings to a holiday charity. I'm not doing this to be nice, or socially responsible, but because Tweeting may one day become an Olympic event, and I want to maintain my amateur status.

A hearty thanks to Foodbuzz for a fabulous weekend of food blogging fun!

*Bonus Coverage!

Here is a great video recap by Lynn Chen from The Actor's Diet. Enjoy!

Coming Soon: Winter Lasagna with Butternut Squash and Broccoli Rabe

Friday, November 5, 2010

Turkey Cocktail Meatballs with Orange Cranberry Glaze – A Holiday Take on One of the Most Absurd Appetizers Ever

It was at the height of my food snobbery (I've since been cured) when I first came across the preposterous "cocktail meatballs in grape jelly." I won't pretend I remember the occasion, but I do remember thinking, wow, that's sounds pretty disgusting. Then I tasted it. It was good. How was that possible?

The meatballs certainly weren't homemade, probably straight from the frozen foods aisle at Costco. The crock pot they were in wasn't a pretty sight – dirty-gray balls swimming in an oddly colored pink jelly. But, despite all of this, the dish was surrounded by happy, laughing people, drink in one hand, toothpick-skewered meatball in the other.

It was there I realized that when it comes to party f
ood, some things just couldn't be explained. So, with that as my inspiration, I bring you these turkey cocktail meatballs with orange cranberry glaze. While not quite as "meaty" as the original, this much lower-fat version would make a nice addition to your entertaining repertoire.

One note about the diced hot peppers you'll see me add in the video: Sweet cancels heat. Do not be scared to add these because you don't like spicy food. When you're dealing with a sweet sauce, which this certainly is, the heat from the peppers really gets mellowed out, and you get the benefit of the flavor without all the fieriness.

By the way, you can make these ahead and freeze them without the glaze, then the day of the party, defrost them and simply reheat in the sauce. I hope you give these a try. Enjoy!

Turkey Cocktail Meatballs with Orange Cranberry Glaze Ingredients:
(makes about 32-36 cocktail-sized meatballs)
1 1/4 lb ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch of cayenne
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the glaze
1 cup canned jellied cranberry sauce
1/2 cup orange jelly or marmalade
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers, optional
1 tablespoon minced Fresno peppers, optional
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Turkey Balls, then the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival!

I'll have a brand new video recipe up tomorrow for a tasty, holiday version of cocktail meatballs that I think you're going to love – if only for the best slow-motion cranberry jelly scene ever filmed. After I post that, I'm taking the rest of the weekend off for a very special event.

This weekend is the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, and I could not be more excited! Not only do I get to eat and drink (two of my four favorite things to do), and see lots of my fellow food blogger buddies, but I was also asked to participate as a panelist for one of the Saturday breakout sessions called, "Star of the Show: Video Blogging." Basically, I'm going to give away all of my trade secrets for free.

Of course, there will be lots of fun updates and live reports via my Twitter feed, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tangerine Cherry Cranberry Sauce – Your Laziness Will Be Rewarded!

It's right about this time when whoever is organizing the Thanksgiving meal finds out, or assigns, who's bringing what to the dinner. May I suggest a little proactivity (I can't believe that's not a word) on your part to volunteer to bring the cranberry sauce.

Fresh, homemade cranberry sauce is like the easiest recipe ever, and as long as you "sell it" properly, your true motives (maximum love for minimum effort) will be our secret. By "sell it" I mean tell them all about your secret tangerine/cherry-spiked version, and how involved it is to make. Of course, since it is a top-secret recipe, you'll not be able to give details, but you're sure they'll be blown away.

I posted this video last night on YouTube, and several of the viewers made a great suggestion for the spices. I usually just fish them out with a spoon once cold, but if you wrap them in a small piece of cheesecloth, you'll be able to pull them out without what can be an extensive search.

I didn't and usually don't, but you can certainly add a pinch of salt and black pepper to this, or any number of other aromatics. This tangerine cherry cranberry sauce is also really nice served warm as a savory sauce to all kinds of game, like venison, duck, goose, etc. I hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

1 (12-oz) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup small dried cherries (larger ones can be chopped a bit)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon
finely grated tangerine or orange zest
1 cup tangerine or orange, plus water as needed
1 whole star anise
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Are Your Holiday Food Wishes?

I'm going to be filming a bunch of holiday-themed videos for a special feature on YouTube, and I'd love to know what kinds of things you'd like to see! I've done some fairly standard turkey, gravy, and stuffing video recipes, as well as a bunch of side dishes that work nicely around the holidays, like glazed sweet potatoes, but maybe you'd like to see something a little more exotic? Please leave a comment and let me know. Thanks!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Low Fat Pumpkin Flan Recipe – Unfortunately it Worked

This delicious pumpkin flan is the result of an experiment in replacing the recipe's usual cream and half and half with low-fat milk. While part of me may have been secretly hoping it wouldn’t come out that good (so I could go back to using cream), I was really happy with the results.

As a self-described expert in human nature, especially as it relates to butterfat, I do have one suggestion; keep that whole low-fat thing to yourself. This great holiday dessert idea should be able to stand on its own merits, without a disclaimer regarding the reduced calories.

Having said that, if someone's not thrilled with this leaner version, well, then we reserve the right to bust out the old, "hey, what the hell did you expect, I used low-fat milk instead of cream!?"

One note on the recipe quantity: If you use 5 to 6 ounce ramekins like I did, you'll have enough pumpkin flan mixture for about eight. I onl
y did six for the video, so I didn't want anyone to be confused.

You can refrigerate the mixture and bake these in batches, but of course they will take longer in the oven, since the custard will be cold going in. Also, a cup of sugar will just barely make enough caramel for 8 ramekins, so in the ingredients below I've increased the sugar a bit to make sure you have enough.

This pumpkin flan recipe would be great any time of year, but really shines around the holidays. I'm not saying forgo the usual array of pumpkin pies, but this may be a great alternative for those that want something a little lighter and crust-free. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 Individual Pumpkin Flan:
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
5 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 can pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla (or a split bean)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of allspice
pinch of mace
1 3/4 cups low-fat milk (for richer version sub 1 cup cream plus 3/4 cup half and half)
pumpkin seeds to garnish, optional