Friday, December 31, 2010

Black Eyed Peas with Pork and Greens – Good Luck with This!

I love the New Year's day tradition of eating beans and greens to bring luck and prosperity. This video was posted a few years back, and features black-eyed peas, and not one, but three kinds of pork. How can that not bring good fortune?

This is a very old tradition, and I don't mean colonial America old
, I mean really, really old. There are records of black-eyed peas being eaten for good luck on New Year's Day all the way back to ancient Babylonia. It must have worked, because look at all the good fortune that has befallen the middle east since then. Okay, maybe that's not the best example.

This video recipe is my variation on something called "Hoppin' John," which is black-eyed peas, rice, and pork stewed together, usually served with some kind of greens and cornbread. Speaking of which, I highly suggest clicking on my cornbread recipe video and doing this thing right.

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! May your 2011 be filled with much happiness, and lots of new adventures. Stay safe, party hard, and as always, enjoy!

1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
3 strips bacon, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound pork neck bones
6 oz smoked ham, diced
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
3 cloves chopped garlic
6 cups water
1 (10-oz can) diced tomato with green chilis
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
cayenne to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 large bunch kale, leaves torn
cooked rice

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Doing the Limbo

For me, this time between Christmas and New Years is the laziest week of the year. Many are off work, and those that aren't are probably doing a half-assed job anyway. Generally people are tired, distracted, and really not into any heavy thinking. This is exactly how I feel. 

Anyway, to help make up for this just-phoned-it-in post, I will say that I have so many exciting things planned for the new year, including a video on how to do your own sous vide steaks at home (my first test pictured here), using absolutely no special equipment. Spoiler alert: it was awesome. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When it Comes to Beef, I Usually Leave Wellington Alone

Photo (c) David Blaine's Flickr Photostream
I get lots of requests for Beef Wellington, especially around the holidays. In case you don't know, Beef Wellington is a whole tenderloin of beef, covered in foie gras pate, coated with a rich mushroom paste, wrapped in buttery puff pastry and baked to a golden brown. Sound good doesn't it? That's the problem.

The idea of Beef Wellington is amazing, and the aforementioned list of ingredients is spectacular together, but I've always considered the actual dish more of a risky showpiece than anything else.

I can sear a filet mignon steak, top it with mushrooms and foie gras, serve it on or near some perfectly baked puff pastry, et viola! That way I can control each component of the dish. When you take the same ingredients and try to perfectly cook them wrapped in puff pastry, you're adding significantly to the degree of difficulty.

Having said that, I'll admit it really does make an impressive special occasion dinner centerpiece. So, maybe I'll throw logic to the wind and try and film one soon. It won't be before New Years Eve, so to hold you over, here is the irrepressible Gordon Ramsey doing his Christmas version. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Eve Menu Idea: Stuffed and Rolled Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Pan Jus

Yesterday's Pork Diablo recipe reminded me of this Stuffed and Rolled Pork Tenderloin recipe I posted over three years ago. This is one of my favorite recipes on the entire blog, and when I saw it only had 14 comments I realized that many of you might not have seen it yet.

It's funny to see and hear how the videos have evolved. This is some very early work, and was shot with a tiny web cam. There's no music, the sound sucks, and the video rambles on for over 8 blurry minutes. That said, there is a certain charm to it, and I got a kick out of watching it today.

Like I said, the recipe is a favorite, and one of my go-to special occasion choices. It looks very cool, is relatively easy to pull off, and scaled up would work nicely for a large table. To view the recipe, click here to go to the original post. Enjoy!

Please Note: Updated internal temperature for this is 155 degrees F. (I like to go higher than 145 because of the stuffing). The video says  internal temperature of 165, but I've since gotten my head right.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pork Tenderloin "Diablo" – The Devil is in the Details

This roasted pork recipe is the first meat dish I remember learning in culinary school. It was demonstrated by a German chef at the Hotel Saranac, and when I asked why it was called "Diablo," he said because that means "devil." Um, thanks. 

Eventually I learned that "Diablo," referred to the old-school culinary terminology for something spicy being, "deviled." Back then entrée's had names. Dishes like Beef Wellington, Clams Casino, Steak Diane, Lobster Thermidor, and this Pork Diablo, would be proudly displayed across menus in bold font, followed by the chef's brief description.

Nowadays, naming a dish just isn't as fashionable, so all we get is the description, and a lot of it. Maybe we're compensating for no longer giving the recipe an official title, but these descriptions tend to go on forever, and give way more detail than necessary, including what farm the Brussels sprouts came from, and at what angle the pork will be sliced.

One of these days I fully expect to see, "rosemary sprig was picked left-handed, by a guy named Pete." I hope I don't sound too curmudgeonly, but I kind of prefer the way we used to do it. There was a bit more formality to it, and just the right amount of mystery. Today's menu descriptions don't leave anything to the imagination. [Insert burlesque analogy here].

Regardless of how you choose to communicate it on your menu, this is a great pork recipe. Mustard is a classic with pork, but when you add the extra zing of horseradish and cayenne, and then smooth it out with a little cream and butter, well, it's devilishly delicious.

As I mentioned in the video, the great thing about pork tenderloin is it's one of those versatile cuts of meat that's fancy enough for a New Year's Eve dinner party, but also works equally well as a simple and quick weeknight meal. 

By the way, if you've watched our older pork tenderloin videos, you'll notice I used to cook the meat to a higher internal temperature. Since all the old cookbooks say to cook pork to 185 degrees F., I felt like a real renegade only cooking it to 165. Now, I'm a believer that somewhere closer to 145 is perfect.

And by "perfect," I mean juicy, flavorful, and able to be cut with a fork, and you'll see in the final climactic scene. I hope you give this Pork "Diablo" recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients: (make 2-3 portions)
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra hot horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon fresh chives
1 tablespoon cold butter

View the complete recipe

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!

Ornament Photo (c) Elin B's Flickr Photostream
Michele and I are heading up to Bodega Bay today for Christmas with the family, but before we do, we wanted to wish all of you who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas!

I hope you'll also be surrounded by loved ones, and of course, lots of great food. The holiday table is the perfect reminder of what an amazing effect home cooking can have on the people around you.

We'll be taking a little break from the blog until Monday (I may actually try to go a whole day without looking at email, but we'll see about that one). Have fun, play nice, travel safe, and as always, enjoy!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brussels Sprouts Roasted with Cipollini Onions – Warning: Takes Longer than 60 Seconds

As many of you know, I also do recipe videos for, but what you don't know, and would probably never guess, is that out of all the recipes I've produced for them, the most popular is a Brussels sprouts dish!

It's called 60-Second Brussels Sprouts, and you can see the original post here. As the name suggests, the recipe calls for a super-fast sear-and-serve approach. Here, we're at the other end of the spectrum. These actually get cooked twice, and for a much longer time.

The secret here is a quick blanching in boiling salted water, and then 15 or 20 minutes in a really hot oven. The searing heat and natural goodness of the vegetables do most of the work, so nothing more than a little brown butter and seasoning are needed.

This would make a very nice side dish to your holiday feast, and I can't think of a main course, especially one made from some type of succulent animal, that this wouldn't pair wonderfully with. If you can't find the Cipollini onions, just use pearl onions, or you can just leave them out altogether.

By the way, the Brussels sprouts only need a couple minutes blanching to prepare them for the oven, but the Cipollini onions should be cooked almost to the point of being tender before being roasted. You want that nice mellow, sweet onion flavor, not something sharp and jarring to the palette.

I hope if you have more that 60 seconds, you'll give these a try. Enjoy!

1 pound Brussels sprouts
1/2 pound Cipollini or pearl onions
2 tablespoons butter
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Take a Little Break from Christmas Shopping and Vote!

You're out there shopping, stressed, tired, hungry, and at your wit's end. Why not take a break, and go vote in the 2011 Tasty Award's Viewer's Choice Award? How will this help you? It won't, but it would be really cool if you did it anyway.

As some of you may know, I'm nominated in the "Home Chef in a Series" category, so if you would like to help, please click here to vote! It's the fifth category. Thank you so much!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Lasagna

It only took about 300 food wishes before it finally came true, but here is my favorite lasagna. Since this is such a traditional Italian-American Christmas recipe, I figured what better time to post it?

By the way, this is simply my rendition of Italian-American lasagna, and not intended to claim any type of superiority, authenticity, or other such nonsense. If your Nonna uses fresh pasta, or insists on a béchamel, then bless her heart, but that's not how this half-Italian rolls.

There are only two things you need for great lasagna; a thick, rich, super-meaty meat sauce, and lots of it; and a ricotta filling where only the finest cheeses are welcomed. For the sauce I love a combination of half Italian sausage and half lean ground beef. I also like lots of sauce.

If you use too much sauce, the worst that can happen is you have a plate of pasta with sauce, but if you don't use enough, you end up with dry lasagna, and there's nothing sadder than dry lasagna.

For the cheese mixture I like the holy trinity of whole milk ricotta, fresh mozzarella, and Reggiano-Parmigiano. If you use the real stuff, your lasagna will taste better. I also use twice as much ricotta as most recipes, which works great here since I use twice the meat as well. Hey, this is Christmas lasagna after all. Enjoy!

Ingredients (for a deep 15" x 10" lasagna pan):
For the meat sauce:
1 pound Italian sausage
1 1/2 pound lean ground beef
8 oz mushrooms, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup water
Note: depending on the seasoning of your sausage, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of an Italian dried herb blend.
For the cheese filling:
2 egg, beaten
2 lbs ricotta cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
2/3 cup freshly grated Reggiano-Parmigiano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
big pinch of cayenne
The rest:
1 lb lasagna noodles
8 oz mozzarella cheese, torn in small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese to top

View the complete recipe

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Time for Michele's Famous Christmas Gingerbread Cake

My wife Michele makes this great gingerbread cake every Christmas, and in addition to being quite delicious, it's really simple and would be a perfect item to bring to any holiday party.

It has a very simple lemon glaze on top, but also works nicely topped with lemon curd, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.

This has been posted previously, and here is the original post in case you'd like some more information. Enjoy!

Click here for Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Glaze Recipe.
Photo (c) Flickr user terren in Virginia

Friday, December 17, 2010

This Spaghetti Aglio e Olio Recipe (Spaghetti with Garlic and Oil) Almost Left Me Speechless!

I hope this video recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio looks better than it sounds! A fairly minor cold led to a few days of semi-laryngitis, but I just couldn't wait any longer, so I summoned up my best Phyllis Diller impersonation and went for it. Like Phyllis always said, "the show must go on!"

Spaghetti aglio e olio is about as primal a pasta dish as there is. This is easily the most popular spaghetti recipe in Italy, and if you'll pardon the probably-annoying-to-Italians analogy, the comfort food equivalent to our "mac and cheese."

This is a very simple recipe – in fact, the recipe is much easier to make than pronounce. You know a recipe name is hard to say when you can't even come up with a respectable phonetic spelling. It's something close to "ah-leoh-oh-leoh." Give it a couple tries, and if you can't do it, feel free to just call it garlic spaghetti.

Anyway, this is my version (no two spaghetti aglio e olio recipes are alike), and I think it's pretty true to the classic method. The key is slowly toasting the garlic slices to a perfect golden-brown in the olive oil. If it's too light, you don't get the full flavor, and if it's too dark, it gets bitter. My advice? Do it perfectly. Enjoy!

1 pound dry spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 cup olive oil (note: I prefer a regular olive oil for this recipe, as opposed to a strongly flavored extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (highly recommend Parmigiano-Reggiano)
*It's not traditional, but for extra richness add 1 tablespoon of butter when you toss with the cheese.

View the complete recipe

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why Fried Gnocchi is a Bad Idea

They say timing is everything, and that was certainly the case this morning. Due to a blur of licensing contracts, book proposals, travel arrangements, and other less-than-enjoyable administrative duties, I was in serious need of a chuckle. Well, this video sent to me via @mysticl on Twitter sure took care of that! I hope you love this guy's laugh as much as I did. This is from Webstaurantstore's YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Gift Idea: Homemade Herb Salt – Remember, You're Not Cheap, You're Creative!

Homemade, edible holiday gifts are kind of tricky. There is a fine line between giving a unique, thoughtful, carefully prepared gourmet goodie, and giving someone something that looks like it was just an easy way out. Hopefully, this beautiful looking and smelling fresh herb "finishing" salt will be seen as the former.

If this looks familiar, I did a similar version a few years ago for, and since I needed a Holiday-themed gift idea to film for this year's YouTube Holiday Solution Center, I decided to give it another go.

As you'll see, I used rosemary and lemon thyme, but other hearty green herbs will also work. By "hearty," I mean herbs that are sturdy and resinous, like savory, oregano, and marjoram. Fragile herbs like dill, chervil, and cilantro, just don’t work as well.

Answers to a few common questions: Yes, the color will fade within a few weeks, but the herby flavor and aroma will remain intact for much longer. There is no shelf-life limit, and this can be kept indefinitely.

I described this as a "finishing salt," meaning it's used to season cooked food at the table; however, it can also be used in place of regular salt in any recipe preparation. So, if you're looking for a cool, creative foodie stocking stuffer, or, well, you're just cheap, I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients (makes about 1 1/2 cups):
1/2 cup packed fresh herb leaves (I used rosemary and lemon thyme)
1/2 cup course sea salt
1 cup regular sea salt, or a flaky kosher salt

View the complete recipe

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eight Great Christmas Appetizers

It's about time to plan your Christmas menu, and no matter how marvelous your main courses are, the appetizers need to be just as special. Here are eight of my favorite holiday entertaining ideas. Enjoy!

Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
Savory Chocolate Crostini
Turkey Cocktail Meatballs
Artichoke Hearts Gratin
Candied Bacon Strips
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Clams Casino
Calabrese Lollipop

Saturday, December 11, 2010

You're a Viewer and Have a Choice: Please Vote for Chef John in the Tasty Awards!

One problem I've always wanted is not being able to keep track of which online awards I'm up for, and which contests I should be asking people to vote in. Well, my wish has come true.

As many of you may know, I was nominated for a 2011 Tasty Award in the "Home Chef in a Series" category, but I forgot to inform everyone that there is also a Viewer's Choice Award, which quite frankly is my best shot at heading down to Hollywood and taking home a trophy. So, if you would like to help make my Tasty dreams come true, please click here to vote! It's the fifth category. Thank you so much!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lamb Caldero – A Shank that Won't Break the Bank

This lovely Latin lamb shanks recipe is the result of a little experiment I just did with the help of my friends from Imusa. You all know how much I love my Le Creuset Dutch oven, but I realize the high cost puts it over the budgets of most home cooks. So, I was interested to see how this "caldero," which costs under $30 would perform.

The model they sent me looked like a Dutch oven, but was so incredibly light that I real
ly wasn't sure how it would work. I assumed the caldero would be fine for the browning step, and it was. My main concern was would the ultra lightweight lid be heavy enough to keep in enough moisture?

To my surprise it did very well. As you'll see, we only add a cup of broth to braise the lamb, and it didn't even come close to drying out. So, if you are looking for a really light and inexpensive Dutch oven, this one performed well in regards to cooking t
he food. Of course, I can't give any opinions on the durability, and how this would stand up to normal wear and tear, but you can check online user reviews for those issues.
The recipe itself is very straightforward. You don't often see lamb cooked with these spices, and I'm not sure why, as they really work together wonderfully. The final plate ended up being a sort of North African/Central American fusion thing, with the fragrantly spiced meat and peppers resting on a simple bed of couscous.

Please note: I was using relatively small lamb shanks for this recipe. If you are using larger hind shanks, then you will need a longer braising time, probably 30 minutes more at least. Either way, I hope you give this comforting lamb recipe a try. Enjoy!

Disclosure: Imusa sent the caldero to me free of charge, and also contributed to the production costs of this video recipe. For more information on this product you can contact Imusa directly, or check out the product page here. Thanks!

4 lamb shanks
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
vegetable oil as needed
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
3-4 large jalapeños, seeded, cut in strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cut in strips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Cakes with Chef John and His Wacky Sidekick Stephanie

This video recipe for butternut squash cakes is a team effort between me and my friend, Stephanie Stiavetti, from Stephanie eats gluten-free, and since this is one area I have very little experience in, I gladly accepted her invitation to come over and film a GF dish.

I'm notoriously reclusive when working, so it was nice to get out for an afternoon of tag-team food blogging. We thought it would be fun to shoot the video together, but then each of us edit and post our own versions. I'm looking forward to seeing Stephanie's, and I hope she enjoys mine!

With all d
ue respect to Stephanie's performance with the "meat cleaver mirror" at the beginning of the video, the star of the show are these lovely, and very simple, squash cakes – little more than a shredded butternut squash patty, spiced with curry, and fried up to crispy-edged perfection.

Keys to this recipe's gluten-freeness are the two flours we used to bind the mixture. A corn flour, and a flour made from fava and garbanzo beans. They come from Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods, a company that if you eat GF, or know someone who does, you're probably familiar with. I've included this store finder link for Bob's Red Mill, in case you're interested.

Whether you're eating gluten-free or not, this is just a really nice, and very easy, winter dish. I hope you give it a try, and I'll be sure to let you know when Stephanie posts her video. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 4
butternut squash cakes :
A few tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup diced onions or shallots
2 cups packed grated raw butternut squash
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 large eggs
1/4 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour, also known as "garfava" flour (try Bob's Red Mill brand)
3 tablespoons corn flour (NOT masa - again, try Bob's Red Mill brand)
sour cream and pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional

Congratulations to Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef!

My friends Shauna and Daniel's cookbook: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes, has just been chosen as one of the year's best cookbooks by the New York Times!

You can get more information about their book in this post, and you're interested in ordering a copy, you can do that on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell's right now. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is a Few More Links

Hey, you can't say I'm not easy to shop for! As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I decided not to do a holiday donation fundraiser for the blog this year. Happily, because of all the new projects, I didn’t feel the urgent need to beg for money to keep afloat like past years. Also, I've decided I'd like something more important than money. I'd like links.

For a site that gets as much traffic as we do, there are relatively few other websites that link to Food Wishes. One problem with spending 95% of my time on production and the creative process is that it leaves very little time to surf the web, r
eading and commenting on other blogs, or even just doing basic networking.

So, if you're willing and able, I'd love some help getting a few extra links. If you have a blog, or know someone who does, and you think we'd be a valuable resource to them (for example, people that like food and cooking), then hook us up. If enough of you just got us one single extra link on another site, it would make a significant difference in our web ranking.

Above and beyond that, those of you that use sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and of course Twitter and Facebook, can also help spread the word there, where appropriate. Every little bit helps! A million thanks for everything you've already done to support the site this year, and if you have any questions or leads, and would like more info, please email me and we can discuss one-to-one. Cheers!

Chain Links Photo (c) John-Morgan's Flickr photostream
Hot Dog Links Photo (c) Stevendepolo's Flickr photostream

Minute Steaks with Barbecue Butter Sauce – They Only Take a Few Minutes

There is something comforting about the minute steak. It's probably the fact that the name of the recipe is also the recipe. You take piece of sirloin, pound it thin, and fry it for a minute per side. That's it. Simple, faster than fast, and easily repeated under pressure.

Of course, everyone knows that a minute steak is only as good as the pan sauce, and here we offer an ultra-simple barbecue butter sauce. Actually, there's only a very small amount of butter, but the way it emulsifies into the beef broth and tangy BBQ sauce somehow amplifies the effect.

Be sure to use a great barbecue sauce. The SFQ I used is a rich, classic American barbecue sauce with a touch of chocolate, hint of coffee, and balanced with aged red wine vinegar. It's subtly exotic spices and sweet heat made it a perfect choice here.

Ideally, you'll follow the link below and order some, but if not, make sure the sauce you choose has some personality to it. You'll also want to taste the sauce plain beforehand, so that you can adjust the seasonings in the pan. I hope yo
u find the time to make this soon. Enjoy!

Give the Gift of Barbecue! Order Some SFQ – The Original San Francisco-
Style Barbecue Sauce

As many of you may already know, my wife, Michele, makes what I think is a fantastic, and very unique barbecue sauce. Some of you actually got to sample it last year as we offered to all those loyal viewers who were able to make a donation to the site.

This year we aren’t doing any such fundraisers, but that doesn’t mean you can't experience the SFQ. Michele just launched her website, and I invite you to head over and take a look! By the way, if you order by December 18th, your order will arrive in time for Christmas. Thank you for your support!

2 (5-oz) minutes steaks
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon grapeseed or vegetable oil
For the sauce:
1/2 cup beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 or 2 teaspoons cold butter
hot sauce to taste
freshly ground black pepper

View the complete recipe

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Coming Soon: Minute Steak with SFQ Barbecue Butter Sauce

I just filmed a video recipe for "minute steak," and for the pan sauce I used my wife Michele's amazing barbecue sauce, SFQ. When I post the video I'll also be giving more information, including how to order her sauce, just in case you're looking for interesting holiday gifts for the foodies in your life. If you just can't wait, follow this link to the SFQ - The Original San Francisco Style Barbecue Sauce homepage.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pasta Fazoolander - So Good You'll Want to Take Off Your Underwear Without Removing Your Pants!

I realize that if you haven't seen the movie Zoolander, the title of this pasta e fagioli, aka pasta fazool, makes absolutely no sense. But, having recently seen someone perform the famous underwear extraction scene from the movie (see bonus video below), I just couldn't help myself.

So, is this hearty winter soup really so good you'd spontaneously attempt to remove your underwear without taking off your pants? Well, possibly, but you'd really have to love soup. Really love soup.

Regardless of whether you go Zoolander or not, no one will deny this is a super simple, very fast, and quite nutritional recipe. The addition of cheese tortellini in place of significantly less interesting macaroni, makes for an extra satisfying bowl of food.

As I say in the video, this is an answer to all the people who claim not having enough time to cook after a long day at work. This entire recipe, start to finish, takes about 30 minutes. And, if your excuse is you don't cook at all, well, this is a heck of a recipe to start with! It also happens to be the kind of dish you really want to be savoring on one of these chilly winter days. Enjoy!

Pasta Fazoolander (pasta e fagioli, pasta fazool) Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1-2 anchovy fillet
1 quart chicken, or vegetable broth
1 cup dry tortelinni
1 (15-oz) can white beans, drained
2 cups packed baby spinach, roughly chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
parmesan cheese

View the complete recipe

Bonus Borderline-Inappropriate Zoolander Impersonation Video
The reason Zoolander was on the brain was this performance by Aubrey Huff at the San Francisco Giants' World Series parade. He went full Zoolander to remove his red "Rally Thong," the good luck charm he actually wore during the season (true story).

Food-Proofing Your iPad

I assume those of you fortunate enough to own an iPad take your tablet into the kitchen to follow along with recipes, and if you do, it's not a matter of if, but when, you spill something all over it. Well, here's a very simple solution from using a ziplock bag and business card holder. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ah, oh, ah? Beef Au Jus

I do not speak French. This is not something I'm proud of, as I could have, and should have, picked it up by now. With that said, the mispronunciation of French culinary terms is one of my great guilty pleasures.

I know it's "oh" jus, and not "ahhh" jus, but that's how I grew up saying it, and I don't have any plans to start saying it right at this advanced age. Besides, the proper pronunciation sounds like you are surprised you're getting a sauce, and my way sounds like you are happy about it.

This is the most minimalist method for doing a quick au jus for your prime rib of beef. In a restaurant that specializes in prime rib, they have the benefit of massive amounts of bones and scraps to make a reduced, rich jus without having to thicken it.

At home however, we need to cheat a little bit. You can do this without the flour step, but I think most people prefer this beefy dipping sauce to have a little body to it. Not thick like gravy, but just a little something to help it adhere to the meat. By the way, that thin film of beef fat floating on the surface is fully intentional, as you are about to hear. Enjoy!

Beef Au Jus Ingredients:
1/4 cup beef fat, plus pan drippings from a cooked prime rib or other roast beef
1 1/2 tablespoon white flour
2 cups rich beef broth
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
*makes about 1 1/2 cups depending on how much you reduce