Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You Down with IACP? Yeah, You Know Me!

The travel craziness continues as I'm heading to Austin for the IACP 33rd Annual Conference. This year's theme is: "Light Your Fire: Sparks from the Culinary Edge." 

I'll be doing a session entitled, "DIY Video Production for Food Bloggers," and will be joined by the lovely and talented Sara, from Average Betty, and Daniel Klein, chef and traveling food documentarian from The Perennial Plate. By the way, if you think I travel a lot, check this guy out.

I'm pretty excited to be doing a little teaching, as that's the one thing I do miss most about working at a culinary academy. I love the thought that folks may actually leave the session and be so inspired that they start filming and uploading food videos to their own blogs. Then, in a few years, there will be so many high-quality food videos online that their value will plummet, and I'll be out of business. Damn it! I didn't think this through.

On a related matter, here is a recipe by a new video recipe friend of mine, Marie Lévesque (aka PlatypusGuitar) from Montréal, Canada. She's the host of the Insanely Sexy Potato Show, and this is her Easy Salmon Croquette Recipe. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cream Cheesy Cubed Zucchini with Lemon and Oregano

Those of you expecting some kind of char-grilled hunk o' meat, fat-glistening-in-the-sun-type video for Memorial Day will probably be disappointed to see this humble zucchini dish. I really can't blame you. It is zucchini for heaven's sake.

I've been busy traveling on some secret business trips recently, so while I'd normally have a hard time feigning such excitement over squash, considering how much time I've had, I'm actually quite thrilled with how this came out.

I didn't start out trying to make a creamy zucchini recipe, but when I glanced in the fridge and saw the last crumbled remains of fresh cream cheese, I knew those green cubes sizzling away in the skillet were about to get enriched.

Like I said in the video, this would make a pretty nice side dish for all that grilled meat you are going to tong this summer, or as an impressive base for grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp. Also, to get extra fancy, use crème fraiche (preferably homemade) instead of the cream cheese. Enjoy!

I want to wish you all a delicious and safe Memorial Day. Hopefully you'll join me in taking a few moments to remember all those who gave their lives protecting our freedom and way of life.

3 or 4 cups cubed zucchini
2 tablespoon olive oil
red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
2 tablespoon cream cheese
1 or 2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

View the complete recipe

Saturday, May 28, 2011

All Up In Your Grill! Eight Great Ideas for Your Holiday Cookout

Memorial Day weekend is here! Time to dust off the grill, and find that "Kiss the Cook" apron everyone loves so much. Is there anything so empowering (for us simple-mined males at least) as standing in front of a flaming grill, foam-wrapped can of beer in one hand, giant grill tongs in the other?

I've posted eight of my favorite grill recipe videos below. All are proven crowd-pleasers, and none require any special skills or equipment. By the way,
don't forget the side dishes, everyone knows they are the real secret to a great backyard meal. Have a wonderful weekend, and as always, enjoy!

Santa Maria Tri-Tip Grilled Lamb Chops
Grilled Flank Steak Grilled Lemon Chicken
Cornell Chicken Grilled Barbecue Chicken
Grilled Pork Tenderloin Grilled Asian Skirt Steak

Friday, May 27, 2011

How to Cut a Sandwich Like Bobby Flay

I'd like to start by saying this video demonstration on how to cut a sandwich like Bobby Flay may be the most anti-climatic video we've ever done. After the big build up I did in my Hellmann's Club Sandwich post a few months ago, about this revolutionary technique, something tells me the vast majority of viewers may be underwhelmed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Top Chef Fabio Viviani Makes Me Breakfast in Aspen

Last year, while at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, I was invited to a private, early morning cooking demonstration by Fabio Viviani, one of the most popular and entertaining Top Chef contestants of all time.

For obvious reasons (including, but not limited to, long nights of drinking, eating and more drinking), early morning events at the Aspen F&W are usually not high on my list, but despite a pretty impressive hangover, I decided this up-close and personal demo was too good to pass up.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Food Blogger Festival Etiquette and Tips

Hi, I love your blog, wanna trade links?
There's been a proliferation of food blogger festivals over the last few years. Some of the reasons are obvious, like the explosion of new food blogs being published. It's now common knowledge that food blogging is incredibly fun, almost no work, and extremely profitable, with most bloggers making six-figure incomes.

Some reasons are less obvious, like how much money these events net for the promoters. These people are making out like Goldman Sachs. My sources report that the last BlogHerFood brought in an estimated 765.3 million dollars. Of course that's not all profit, as they did spend a couple hundred dollars on the food. Also, I believe that's all tax free, since they probably qualify as a religion.

It's all about the Benjamins.
Photo (c) yomanimus
Anyway, since there's a pretty good chance that you, or someone you know, or someone you would like to know, will be going to one of these events soon, here are some friendly tips and a few pointers on festival etiquette:

1.) Never approach a blogger who has more traffic than you. You can do nothing for them. Besides, they have more important things to do than listen to you drone on about finding your "voice." They don't give a crap about your voice, and 30 seconds in, are probably wishing you didn't have one.

2.) Never approach a blogger who has less traffic than you. These parasites just want to suck from the sweet teat that is your referral traffic. Screw them and the sustainably raised, heritage breed hog they rode in on.

3.) Only approach bloggers who have the exact same traffic as you. Of course, it's a huge breach of etiquette to ask someone what their traffic is, so just assume everyone at the festival has the same numbers as you do.

A huller!! Score!
4.) Never complain about the swag bag. There's a reason all that junk is free. Did you think they were going to throw a Kitchen Aid in there? Just happily take your strawberry huller, your silicon-coated whisk, and your little rice sample (is there anything sadder than rice for one?), and do what any experienced, self-respecting blogger would do…re-gift it!

5.) When drunk tweeting, NEVER use the phrase, so and so was "kicking ass during the panel." After three cocktails before noon, that "L" key is waaay too close to the "K" key for comfort.

That bald guy sure likes the sound of
his own voice.
6.) Only ask questions at a panel discussion that directly relate to how awesome the panelists' blogs are. That's why we, oops, I mean they, are up there. You're lucky to be in the same room as they are, so consider listening to them answer your off-topic question that was actually a self-serving statement, as gravy. 

7.) When deciding who's exclusive after party to attend, just use the following system to rank the events. Take the number of celebrity bloggers hosting, times that by the number of books they've written, then add the number of times Ruhlman has mentioned them in a tweet. Compare these numbers, and then go have a drink at the hotel bar where you're staying. You're not getting into any of those parties anyway.

Hi, my name is John, and
I'm a food blogger.
8.) Take pictures of everything. You'll want to be able to look back and remember those three bloggers you posed with in the lobby, you know, the ones you don't remember. Sure, you can close your eyes and imagine how epic Hank Shaw's beard was, but why not pull up that picture of him and make sure?

I sincerely hope this list of tips helps you enjoy your next big food blogger festival experience! By the way, this post was not a parody. There is no way I wrote this post with tongue-in-cheek. My tongue was nowhere near my cheek. In fact, it was sticking straight out the whole time. :-P

Disclaimer: I did not attend the BlogHerFood event. I was in town for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, but partied with a bunch of BH attendees (high-traffic bloggers, of course). This post was not a review of BlogHerFood. I'm making light of the food blogger festival-going experience in general.

White-Balanced Brie with Ripe Pear and Black Pepper

It only took me like a year to realize there was a way to adjust the white balance on the video settings for my camera. Not bad. I knew about this adjustment for still photos, but until recently never figured it out for video.

I was testing my new found skills on a recent late night snack, and when I was done I realized I had a halfway decent video recipe to post. The color still isn’t great, and I'll continue to practice and adjust, but it's much better than the yellow-orange cast I used to suffer with.

This simple and delicious ripe brie and pear appetizer is inspired by one of my favorite meatless sandwiches. A couple times a year, I like to take a warm piece of crusty French baguette (now that's redundant!), spread it with a little butter, add some soft, very ripe brie cheese, and a few slices of juicy, equally ripe pear.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Heading Home from Atlanta Fat and Happy

I'm getting ready to jet back to San Francisco after a great stay in Atlanta. As you probably know, I was here for the 1st Annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, which was a lot of delicious fun, and considering this was their inaugural year, I thought everything was really well done. Of course, I'll have a more detailed recap coming, and a couple festival-inspired video recipes, so stayed tuned! In the meantime, here are a couple shots to tease you with. Enjoy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Ham and Eggs

Hello from Atlanta, where I'm hard at work eating and drinking my way around the 1st Annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. Been having a great time, and can't wait to share some of the great things I've tasted with you, hopefully in video form.

In the meantime, here is a little Ham and Eggs video I did before I left.  Sure it tastes the same as if you cooked them separately, but that's really not the point. This looks cool, and besides, you only need one pan. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Heading to Atlanta for the 1st Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival!

Photo (c) Flickr User jbudlo2
I'll be grabbing a red-eye tonight out of San Francisco for my maiden voyage to Atlanta for the 1st Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. I'll be in Atlanta until Monday covering this event, which is being billed as a celebration of authentic Southern cuisine, wine and spirits.

You know I'm a sucker for a good food and wine festival, especially one with chefs like Chris Lilly, John Besh, and Tim Love involved. The organizers are patterning the event after the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, which is the benchmark for these types of gatherings.

Here's what event organizer, Dominique Love had to say, "We're planning an experience like no other that will unite leaders of their craft - barbecue pit masters, award-winning chefs and mixologists, Master Sommeliers, fry cooks and local growers - to provide Festival guests the opportunity to sip, savor and learn about the best of Southern food and beverage traditions." Sounds good to me.

I do have a new, recently filmed breakfast video almost ready, so stay tuned for that, and as usual, I welcome you to follow along with all the fun on my Foodwishes Twitter account. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Won a 2011 Saveur's Best Food Blog Award!

I am very proud and honored to announce that Food Wishes has won a second consecutive Saveur Magazine's Best Food Blog Award in the video category! A giant thank you to everyone who took the time to register and vote.

Through your support with these types of awards, you are directly helping get our videos in front of a whole new audience. That's what this is really all about. That, and bragging rights. Also, my hearty congratulations to all the other winners and nominees.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cream of Green Garlic and Potato Soup – The Young and the Cloveless

I use so much regular garlic that to see the plant in its premature form always fills me with wonder and excitement. To think that these tender, scallion-like bulbs will eventually divide themselves into all those neat, paper-wrapped cloves fascinates me every time. Yes, I’m easily fascinated.

Green garlic, as I’ve come to learn relatively late in life, makes one hell of a good soup. Its flavor, once simmered slowly with potatoes and a bit of pork, is somewhere right in the middle between raw garlic and sweet caramelized onions. 

The role of pork in this soup is being played by chopped-up prosciutto scraps, who you may remember from such productions as Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Poached Egg. It did a fabulous job, but even the most novice soup maker could figure out how to substitute ham or bacon. 

There are no secret tips or tricks here; this is about as simple a soup as you could ask for. As you’ll see in the video, we only pureed the large chucks, so this rustic soup had a little bit of texture to it. For me, this isn’t a soup that should be completely smooth. Like thornless roses, or radio-edit rap, it’s just not as interesting like that.

We still have more than a few chilly spring days ahead, so head out to the farmers market, or better produce markets, and grab some green garlic, so you can enjoy this fine soup. If you can’t find it, use leeks or green onions with some regular garlic instead. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

1 tbsp olive oil
2 oz minced prosciutto
3 cups sliced green garlic
4 med russet potatoes
1 quart chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
chives to garnish

View the complete recipe

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love

Before I review Cristina Ferrare’s cookbook, Big Bowl of Love, I should make it clear that I don't do cookbook reviews. First, it would mean having to read one, and that's an exercise I've never acquired a taste for. Oh, I'll flip through one; I'll flip through one with the best of them, but I'd be lying if I told you it was anything more than to look at the photos, and skim some of the text.

So, when publishers pitch me to review the new hot cookbook, I usually decline politely, not wanting to waste their time and inventory (unless it's near the holidays and I need a couple of things to re-gift - hey, we've all been there).

This request was different for one, actually two, reasons; Todd and Diane. They are the dynamic duo behind the fabulous feast for the eyes that is White on Rice Couple. You've seen some of there amazing video work here before, and when I heard they had done all the photography for this cookbook, I couldn't say, "please send me one," fast enough. Predictably the pictures were gorgeous – technically excellent, and beautifully composed.

Then, something very odd happened. I started reading the cookbook. Not just glancing, actually reading and examining the recipes carefully. It seems as though Christina and I have very similar tastes, and it was apparent that this book was full of simple, delicious, and easy-to-make recipes that would actually come out as described and shown.

This is not always the case with celebrity chefs. I don't want to name names (like David Chang), but many times these big name books are long on style and short on performance. One read through Cristina's "Chicken Roasted to Perfection" recipe (pictured here), and I knew we were kindred spirits.

So, I'm giving this book an enthusiastic thumbs-up. It's user-friendly, has a casual, relaxed feel to it, and features a nice collection of great-sounding dishes, presented beautifully. Anyway, don't take my word for it, go and check out the book for yourself, and as always, enjoy!

Images from Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love (c) 2011 by Cristina Ferrare. Photography by Todd Porter and Diane Cu

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Fried Prosciutto and Poached Egg – Never Say Never Cook Prosciutto

As many of you know, I often post these video recipes on YouTube well before I get around to writing the post, and this roasted asparagus with prosciutto and poached egg is no exception.

One advantage of this modus operandi is that the initial comments I get will often help shape the blog post's theme. This time the controversy revolved around the wisdom of cooking prosciutto. I knew this was going to come up, and even joked about it in the video (parental warning: I used the word, "ass").

Even though I acknowledged the fact that cooking prosciutto is very much frowned upon, and that this was done using scraps from the shank end of the ham, I still was viciously attacked.

First of all, there are exceptions to this no-cook rule, even in Italy. Saltimbocca is a classic dish that features veal cooked with prosciutto and sage, and I've seen more than one Italian chef use cooked prosciutto in things like frittatas and salads.

The opponents of cooking prosciutto point to these main issues: Prosciutto gets intensely salty when cooked, it smells less than appetizing, and it's basically a waste of good pork to eat it any other way than thinly sliced in its natural state.

I basically agree with all of that. Frying prosciutto isn’t a great smelling food, but the taste doesn't match this "wet pork" aroma, and is actually quite mild and pleasant to my palette. Besides, where are these people when broccoli is being cooked? That doesn't smell like freshly cut flowers either.

Yes, cooking prosciutto does make it salty, which is why I didn't use any salt in the dish. Anchovies are unbearably salty too, unless used properly. Finally, I LOVE traditional sliced prosciutto, and agree that's the best way to enjoy, but that doesn't make this wrong. I think fresh raw oysters are the best, but once in a while I want Oyster Rockefeller.

If you are skeptical, I encourage you to give this a try. I think you may be pleasantly surprised. Enjoy!

Note: I've already done a how to poach eggs video, but it's really old and crappy, and as I mention in the clip, I'll be redoing it soon, so stay tuned!

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz minced prosciutto (yes, you can use ham, bacon, or pancetta)
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
lemon, juice and zest

Blogger is Experiencing Technical Difficulties!

As many of you may have already heard, Blogger is experiencing some serious technical difficulties.  We've been unable to access any publishing tools for a couple days, and our last post, the Roasted Asparagus with Prosciutto and Poached Egg, was removed from the service while they solve these issues. It and we should be back up soon! Thank you for your patience!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Ravenous Couple's Bánh Cam – Starring Mom and Dad

Photo (c) The Ravenous Couple
This video recipe for bánh cam (or bánh rán) comes to us from Kim and Hong, the very talented duo who publish The Ravenous Couple. They were at my Foodbuzz Festival panel discussion on video blogging, and as some of you may remember, I promised to share any videos those participants sent my way. 

Kim and Hong posted this as a special Mothers Day tribute, and I think it's a great way to celebrate how these heirloom recipes are handed down from one generation to another. I hope you enjoy watching how to make this popular Vietnamese dessert, and I encourage you to visit their blog to read the full post. Enjoy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Duck Fat Green Garlic Home-fried Potatoes - Skin for the Win

I'm just guessing, but I bet there's some old French kitchen expression that roughly translates to, "Hey, it has crispy, fried duck skin crumbled over the top, how bad can it be?" This video recipe for duck fat homefries is perfect when you find yourself in possession of this highly coveted ingredient.

The recipe is the easy part, finding duck skin is a little more challenging. The easiest method of attainment is to know a duck hunter. They can hook you up faster than you can say, "Nice Elmer Fudd hat." If that's not an option, try and make friends with line cooks who work at restaurants that serve duck. They can make it happen, and it will probably only cost you a couple draft beers.

Finally, you can go to a butcher that sells whole ducks, and have him break one down for you. Tell them you'd like two nicely trimmed breasts, two leg quarters, and all the excess skin from the rest of the carcass. They will smile knowingly, and say no problem (for extra credit, ask for the bones, which you can roast and make a killer stock).

Once you have your precious skin, the recipe is a breeze. If you can find green garlic, it's very nice in this, but regular onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, etc. are a fine substitute. These potatoes would sure make a memorable side dish to a seared, sous vide duck breast, or how about as a plate-mate to a creamy goat cheese omelet? By the way, I'm much hungrier now than I was when I started this post. Enjoy!

1 cup duck skin and fat trimmings
4 small russet potatoes
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup chopped green garlic (light parts)

View the complete recipe

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!

I'd like to wish all you Moms out there a very happy Mother's Day tomorrow. A special shout out to my mother Pauline (you may remember her from such videos as, "Key Lime Pie" – see below), I love you, miss you, and hope to see you soon! And of course to my mother-in-law, Peggy, who, from the very beginning was the blog's fairy godmother.

If some of you are still looking for a gift, here's a neat trick for turning an ice cream cake into an edible potted plant! I encourage you to read the original post from a few years back for more information. Enjoy your day!!

This potted plant was inspired by a post on The Pioneer Woman. Thanks!

Bonus Mother's Day Video Recipe Repost: My Mom Makes Key Lime Pie 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Hazy Gaze at a Glaze for the Lazy Days of Summer

This somewhat mysterious post is for a Pinot-glazed mushroom burger topping that will make it's official appearance as part of a sponsored recipe I'll be doing at a future date. I can give no details, except that it's a cheeseburger, and it kicks ass.

I'm not a huge fan of sloppy toppings for cheeseburgers. I don't mind beef grease dripping down my forearms, but I'm not really into chopped vegetable matter following it down my elbows. These mushrooms are a delicious exception. Plus, they're not even that messy.

The key is browning whatever fungi you happen to choose in a good amount of brown butter. Then, when you add the pinot noir, the wine will glaze the surface rather than soak into the mushrooms. The fat sort of makes the flesh wine-proof, and everybody wins.

Stay tuned for the mysterious burger post, and the next time you want to dress up a cheeseburger, give these pinot-glazed mushrooms a try. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup lighter red wine
*also great with any number of spices and/or fresh herbs

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Here's a collection of video recipes featuring fantastic food inspired by the cuisines of Central and South America. You never forget your first love, and when it comes to ethnic food it was the foods of Mexico and points south that first captured my imagination some 28 years ago, as I began eating my way across San Francisco. I realize Cinco de Mayo is a bigger deal out here in California, but no matter where you live, I hope you give some of these festive recipes a try. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lobster Scrambled Eggs and My Father's Favorite Dinner Table Joke

This post's original title was, " Lobster Scrambled Eggs – I Wonder What the Poor People are Having for Breakfast Today?" Of course I would have explained this socially insensitive query in this first paragraph, but I feared that casual browsers would only read the headline and think I was some kind of major d-bag.

We certainly grew up around a ton of great food, but being of fairly modest means we only enjoyed expensive luxury foods like lobster or Prime Rib once in a great while. Whenever such occasions did present themselves, my father John would always use the same joke. He'd take a bite of whatever, and say to the table with a twinkle in his eye, "I wonder what the poor people are having for dinner tonight?"

We'd all laugh, but it was a more than a simple one-liner to him. The son of immigrants in rough and tumble New York City, he grew up in less than opulent surroundings. You could tell he loved being able to afford splurging on things like lobster once in a while, and I'm sure as we ate he thought back to much leaner times.

Anyway, enough with the selfish shellfish reminiscing. When and if you find yourself in possession of some leftover lobster meat, I suggest you do what I did in this video. By the way, feel free to borrow my dad's joke, but only if you're also from modest means, otherwise it's just not funny. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
handful of lobster pieces, cut in large chunks, dusted with cayenne
tarragon leaves, to taste
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

Later Today: Lobster Scrambled Eggs

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hello from Healdsburg!

Michele and I just finished our 15th Passport to Dry Creek Valley event at the magnificent Frick Winery, and this may have been our best year yet! We are dead tired and heading out to dinner, but I wanted to share a few shots of the menu and pairings. We got so many wonderful compliments, which really makes all the hard work worthwhile. We have to give a HUGE thanks to our sous chef Elizabeth Howes, from Saffronlane.com. She was truly a delight to work with, and a pros pro.

We'll be back into San Francisco tomorrow afternoon, and things will get back to normal soon. I do have a new video right around the corner, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the photos!

Green Goddess Seafood Nachos - Dungeness Crab, Shrimp and Lobster Cream Cheese on Green Avocado Chip. Paired with Grenache Blanc and Viognier.

The Classic - Cambozola Cheese on Fig Bread with Fresh Strawberries. Paired with Cinsaut Rose and Cinsaut

Sausage Skewers Deluxe - Italian Sausage Skewered with Luxardo Maraschino Cherry and Fennel Pollen. Paired with Counoise and Grenache.

"Main Line" Philly Cheesesteak - American Kobe Beef with Truffle “Cheez Wiz” and Peppadew and Jalapeno Pepper Relish. Paired with Carignane and C2 North Coast Red Rhone Blend.

Duck ala SFQ - Duck Leg Confit, SFQ Barbeque Sauce and Scallions on Chocolate Tortilla Chips, with Duck Crackling and Orange Gremolata. Paired with Syrah and Cotes Du Dry Creek.

View of the winery from the Kobe grilling station. What a gorgeous morning it was.
For more information about all the great Frick wines mentioned above, check out the winery website. Cheers!