Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coming Soon: Almost a Swordfish Recipe

Tomorrow we'll be doing a little experiment involving this incredibly delicious swordfish preparation. I didn't film the making of the dish, but when I went to serve it, I decided it was too good not to share, so the plating was captured in all it's brief, but beautiful glory. Will I still be able to "teach" you the recipe? Stay tuned!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Figgy Friday! Burrata Bruschetta with Grilled Figs

My friends at Goodbite featured this lovely grilled figs and burrata cheese video today, and since I've been seeing lots of fresh figs at the market I thought I'd re-post it. If you haven't seen it before, I hope you enjoy. If you've seen it, but didn't get around to trying it, then consider this a friendly reminder that you really, really should!

The original post from last August follows:

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

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

Above and beyond how awesome this recipe tastes, it's so nice to be able to post such an aesthetically pleasing dish after the recent string of homely food. I appreciate all the nice comments about the sausage and zucchini stew, but if that thing was a blind date, it would have been described as, "having a nice personality."

Depending on the location, I can't guarantee you'll be able to find burrata and fresh black mission figs, but if you can, you really need to give this a try. I know someone will ask, so I'll tell you right now, there really isn't a great substitute for this heavenly cheese.

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

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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Please Nominate Chef John for a 2012 Tasty Award!

Yes, it's that time again! The Tasty Awards are an annual awards show celebrating the best in food and fashion programs on TV, in film, and online. Last year, we won the award for "Best Home Chef in a Series," and would love to defend the title this year.

If you'd like to help with the nomination, please follow this link and cast your vote. The two categories we qualify in are "Best Food Program - Web" and "Home Chef in a Series." Thank you for the support!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sandy Beans! Getting Our Grit On with Crispy Parmesan Breadcrumb Coated Beans

We all know our food has to look and taste good, but one of the more overlooked aspects in cooking is texture. This sandy beans recipe is a great example. Sure, a nice bowl of white beans warmed in garlic oil and topped with parsley is a fine thing, but texturally…kind of a snoozer.

Here we're coating the beans with a crispy, cheesy, pleasantly gritty breadcrumb mixture. That's right; less yawn, more fawn. This was inspired by a similar trick I like to use for finishing pastas, and if there's one thing I know about people (maybe the only thing), it's they like crispy and crunchy toppings.

At the beginning of the recipe you'll hear me mention a garlic-infused oil. I will demo this in a future video, but in case you're wondering, here's what I did. Take a 1/4 cup of olive oil and place it on low heat. Add a sliced garlic clove. As soon as the garlic starts to bubble slightly, turn off the heat and let the oil cool to room temp. Do not brown the garlic. Strain this oil and voilà, you have garlic oil.

One quest that never ends for a cook is the search for ways to make common side dishes seem a little more special, and this is one trick I hope you try soon. Enjoy! 

Food Safety Note: One of our concerned viewers reminded me to point out that there is a botulism concern when dealing with garlic stored in oil. So you don't worry needlessly, out of 300,000 Americans, there are only about 25 cases of botulism per year with very few cases resulting from stored garlic. But better safe than sorry, so it's recommended that you store any leftover garlic oil in the fridge and use within 10 days.

For the crumbs:
1/4 cup garlic olive oil
3/4 to 1 cup breadcrumbs (depends how "dry" you want your "sand")
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
For the beans:
1 can white beans, drained, rinsed
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
salt to taste
cayenne to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Monday, July 25, 2011

Beautiful Breast of Lamb with Honey Parsley Vinegar Sauce - Hey, My Eyes are Up Here!

You know I love lamb, as evidenced by the various chops, shanks, legs, and shoulders I've featured in the past. These are among the most popular meat recipes on the blog, so it seems many share my love. Here we have a brand new cut to celebrate, the lamb breast.

This is not common in your regular supermarkets. There's an inverse relationship between the size of the parking lot, and the chances you'll find breast of lamb in the meat case. However, a visit to a real butcher (look for lots of tats and facial hair) should be rewarded with some slabs of this bony, fatty, but richly flavored meat.

Since I hadn't cooked this in ages, I decided to play it safe, and use a time-tested Mediterranean-inspired spice rub, and it could not have worked more perfectly. The exotic spices made the rich meat seem even more decadent, all of which was nicely balanced by the vinegar sauce's astringency.

A bright green chimichurri sauce on a well-marbled piece of meat is one of the best things ever, and this dish definitely borrows from that playbook. It's not like you'd want to eat a spoon of the condiment right out of the bowl, but slathered over the glistening meat, it's a thing of beauty.

I hope that if you are a fan of lamb, and you haven't tried lamb breast yet, that you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

2 pieces lamb breast, about 3 1/2 pounds
For the spice rub:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs seasoning (dried rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano blend)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
For the sauce: (note - this is all "to taste")
1/2 cup packed chopped Italian parsley
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/3 cup white wine vinegar, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 or 2 teaspoon honey
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of salt

View the complete recipe

Friday, July 22, 2011

North South East West Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce

The only thing I know for sure about Carolina-style barbecue sauce is that there isn't one. The base is usually always vinegar and pepper, but then depending on which part of the state(s) you're dealing with, there are countless additions and variations.

This one features fresh apple to add a little extra something, but otherwise it's a fairly straightforward, totally in-your-face with tang and heat barbecue sauce recipe. It was fantastic on a molasses-brined pork chop that you'll see in an upcoming video.

One note for those of you that pay particularly close attention to these videos; you may wonder why I mash the cooked apples in the saucepan, when I'm going to put the sauce in the blender anyway. Extreme sauce ugliness, that's why.

I was originally going to leave the sauce unblended, with the hopes the apple would basically disintegrate into the sauce, but when I stirred in the mustard the sauce suddenly looked like the opposite of something you'd want to eat.

Happily a quick trip to the blender made everything okay again, and I was blessed with a superb summer grilling sauce. It's beautiful for basting, or as a can't-miss condiment. It was really nice on these chops, but I think it shines brightest with pulled pork. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 apple, peeled, cubed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons yellow mustard

View the complete recipe

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Relaxation Through Deflation

Maybe it's just me, but I find time-lapse video of cooling, deflating blueberry clafouti quite calming. If you're feeling a little stressed, watch this video and see if it doesn't relax you. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly Pinchy Pies – One Chef's White Trash is Another's White Treasure

I was doing some research on shrimp toast for an upcoming video, and I became obsessed with the thought of frying things on white bread, which led to being obsessed with the thought of frying things in white bread. These fried peanut butter and jelly pinchy pies are the result.

The technique was ridiculously easy, but naming these delicious discs was another thing altogether. They aren't cakes, donuts, or fritters; so I was sort of stumped on what to call them. I decided to make up something completely new (or at least Google says so), and the pinchy pie was born.

As I mention in the video, the possibilities are endless as far as stuffings go, so I can see this really catching on. I think I'm actually going to trademark the name, and maybe hit the state fair tour. These would totally fly out of any Ferris wheel-adjacent food stand.

Regarding the title: While frying stuffed Wonder Bread is about as stereotypically "white trash" as it gets, I don't like or condone the use of that term. I only used it here because I couldn't think of anything as clever. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spreading the Homemade Mayonnaise Love

A beautiful homemade mayonaisse from
In Jennie's Kitchen! Photo (c) Jennifer Perillo
My friend and future partner in crime (if this food blogging thing doesn't work out, we're going to rob a bank together), Jennifer Perillo, just posted a homemade mayonnaise recipe on her blog, In Jennie's Kitchen, and was kind enough to credit me with the stick blender technique described therein.

I didn't invent this great trick, but since I don't remember who did, I really have no choice but to continue taking full credit. This video is so old, there's a good chance you've not seen it before, and if that's the case, and you have a stick blender, you'll want to give this a try so you can cross "homemade mayo" off your culinary bucket list. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fennel-Smoked Salmon – Over the Top Was Not Over the Top

As I was eating this fennel-smoked salmon recipe, I was also enjoying a baseball game on the radio. During a critical point in the game, one of the players was thrown out trying to take an extra base; a major blunder, which the announcer blamed on, "trying to do too much." I had to chuckle, since I had just done the same thing with the salmon.

We've done a hot-smoked salmon video before, using a simple foil tray to hold and protect the fish, but his time I wanted something more aromatic and edible. It worked like a charm. This was one perfectly cooked piece of salmon.

As I say in the video, had I just served the fish over the simple, yet wonderful tomato salad, I would have had a winner, but I tried to do too much. I thought adding the smoky, caramelized remnants of the fennel would elevate the dish to even more epic levels, but that did not happen.

The fennel was tough and stringy, and after a couple bites it was pushed aside so I could concentrate on how great the rest of the plate was. Not only did the heat seem to toughen the vegetable, but also the fact I'd sliced it with the grain made things even worse. In hindsight, the grilled fennel should have been discarded and some fresh, raw fennel should have been shaved into the salad.

I hope you give this a try, especially if you have problems with salmon sticking to your grill grates. Since the fish never touches the grill here, it's easy on, easy off. Just this feature alone makes the technique worthwhile. Enjoy!

2 salmon filets
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 fennel bulb (aka root, although I don't believe it's actually a root)
cold water plus a teaspoon of vinegar
For the salad:
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
pinch of sugar
juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
fennel tops for garnish

View the complete recipe

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Barbecued Peaches Because You Have Ten Minutes

You've just finished grilling extra-thick pork chops, and like any good cook you're letting them rest. Not wanting to waste a nice smoky bed of still-hot coals, you take some ripe, juicy peaches, slather them in barbecue sauce, and grill them until just heated through. You serve them next to the pork, and while you eat, your guests shower you with praise, warming you like the mid-July sun.

I used Michele's SFQ barbecue sauce for this, but your favorite brand or recipe should work, especially ones that have a little spicy kick to them. Enjoy! 

View the complete recipe

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm Hot to Tot

Photo (c) Average Betty
How good is my potato tot recipe? It was just chosen by Sara, from Average Betty, as her favorite in a "Tot-O-Rama" taste test, alongside versions from Chefs Michael Symon and Mark Zeitouni. But that's not the impressive part…this all happened despite the fact I don't actually have a 'tater tot recipe. Take that, chefs that cook things first!

Apparently AB was so taken by my crispy onion ring recipe (posted below in case you missed what may be my best recipe of all time), that she virtually included me in her Tot-O-Rama using a coating inspired by our ultra-crispy rings. She was right about one thing; I will be giving this tasty-looking tot a try in a future post!

Thanks to Sara for sharing her great "Tot-O-Rama" video, and be sure to follow this link to read the entire post. Enjoy!

Our Crispy Onion Rings Recipe (click here for recipe)

Cold Romano Bean Salad – There are Different Kinds of Vibrant

When I was a young boy, many summer lunches were spent at my grandparent's table, and that's where I first learned to enjoy fresh vegetables. Like every Italian family in town, they had a backyard garden, which meant an abundance of zucchini, tomatoes, and beans. This cold Romano bean salad was a staple during those hot summer months, and is still one of my favorite summer side dishes.

So, there are two ways you can do this recipe. You can boil your beans, dress them and serve immediately. This technique provides you with a nice vibrant salad, but the beans are simply coated with the dressing, as opposed to being marinated in it.

I prefer it dressed and left to marinate in the fridge overnight, which gives you something closer to a pickled bean. This style creates a sharper, colder, more herbaceous salad that is ideal for the rich, fatty, smoky meats of summer. The tradeoff is in appearance, with the beans giving up the green color for a more vibrant flavor.

If you grow beans, or have a neighbor who does, you should have the ways and means to give this dish a try. Enjoy!

1 pound green beans
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 or 3 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
fresh sliced mint to top

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fresh Peach Chutney – A Sunny Sauce for Summer

I can't think of many cold sauces that are as versatile as this fresh peach chutney. Whether it's used to top a ham and cheese snack cracker, as seen in the video, or brushed on grilled pork chops, or used as a topping for vanilla ice cream (true story), this easy fresh peach sauce will help make your summer entertaining a little sunnier.

This recipe is part of a series of eight snack videos I did for Kellogg's When you click on the video player below, you'll be taken to their website to view the videos and get the written instructions. If you have questions or comments, please come on back and post them here. Thanks, and enjoy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coconut Milk Red Curry Beef Short Ribs and Cauliflower - A Classic American Curry

If I had to (like at gun point) "invent" a new fusion cuisine, I'd go with "American Curry." It would combine the best of our country's classic stews with the exotic spices we associate with the cuisines of Asia. This simple, braised beef short ribs recipe is a good example of what that style of cooking could produce.

I really love to eat this kind of food. Who doesn’t love a nice batch of slow-cooked short ribs, but we can get in a rut with how they're presented. That's not an issue here, as the spicy-sweet, aromatic sauce makes them anything but ordinary. We should take a lesson from the lands of curry, and realize that comfort foods don't have to be bland to work their soul-warming magic.

I'm already getting excited thinking up American curry variations for things like chicken and biscuits, Texas chili, and Irish stew. This could be fun. Of course, I'd love to hear which iconic American stews you like to see given this treatment. Enjoy!

4 pounds beef short ribs
salt and pepper as needed
1 tsp garam masala
cayenne to taste
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp red curry paste, or to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
4-6 cloves garlic
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
1 tsp fish sauce, or to taste
1 head cauliflower
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup chopped basil leaves

View the complete recipe

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I'm Getting Older Soon

Photo (c) Flickr user mylerdude
Michele and I are heading to Sonoma today for a few days of rest and relaxation. It's my birthday Monday, and I can’t think of a more beautiful spot to celebrate. Despite my rapidly approaching old age, I was able to hustle and finish a brand new video recipe this weekend, which I'll post tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My Great Northwest Cheeseburger Experience: "The Seattle" by the Cheese & Burger Society

When I was asked by the Cheese & Burger Society to be one of ten food bloggers brought together to celebrate ten distinctive cheeseburgers, each representing unique regional flavors of some of our country's greatest food cities, I couldn't say yes fast enough. There are few things I enjoy more than a great cheeseburger.

I was expecting to make "The San Francisco," but since that was already spoken for, I decided to take on "The Seattle," which was described as, "a cheeseburger generously topped with Wisconsin Brie cheese, Pinot Noir-glazed mushrooms, sautéed onions, arugula, and coffee-spiked mayo on a whole grain bun." Now that was a cheeseburger I wanted to try.

Did it work? Yes, yes, and yes. I thought it was a wonderful combination of flavors and textures, and one I'll definitely be making again. The coffee-spiked mayo was the biggest surprise, as its subtle bitterness really pulled the other sweeter, richer elements together nicely. By the way, due to a time limit, this is a pretty quick presentation; so if you need any more info, just ask!

Please Note: This video recipe was sponsored by the Cheese & Burger Society and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. To see all ten "Cheeseburgers Across America," featuring Wisconsin Cheese, check out the official Cheese & Burger Society website here. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sufferin' Succotash Salad

I've been looking for a tasty way to show off this ultra-fast and easy barbecue sauce vinaigrette idea, and this almost raw succotash salad proved to be a perfect vehicle. And to think, I almost ruined it by doing it the right way.

Originally, I was going to grill the corn first, and then slice the cooked kernels into the salad. As I started to prep, I took a little nibble off the end of the ear, and it was so sweet and juicy that I decided to change the plan, and go au natural.

Thanks to the sweet, starchy crunch of the raw corn, the combination of tastes and textures in this salad is outstanding. Sure, you could certainly add more than the four ingredients called for here, but I'm wondering if that would really make this any more perfect.

This succotash salad is great for those occasions when you need to bring a side dish to the company picnic, or family reunion, and want to arrive with something that looks like you put in a lot more effort into it than you actually did.

As you'll see in the clip, the dressing could not be simpler, but will rely on a quality barbecue sauce to bring everything together. I used my wife Michele's famous SFQ sauce, but your favorite barbecue sauce should work out as well (assuming it's deeply-flavored, complex, and kind of spicy).

Anyway, this may not be the most exciting, or visually thrilling thing we've made around here, but what it lacks in aesthetic charm, it more than makes up for in everything else. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

2 ears fresh sweet corn
1 large red bell pepper, small dice
4 green onions, chopped fine
1 can white beans, rinsed, drained
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grilled Tuna with Freshly Grated Horseradish Sauce – Giddy-Up, Taste Buds, Giddy-Up!

Whenever I hear people say you shouldn’t ruin fresh fish at the sushi bar by dipping it in copious amounts of wasabi-spiked soy sauce, I think to myself, yeah, but that's how I like it. Sometimes I just don't care about "overpowering the natural flavors," and this grilled yellowfin tuna with freshly grated horseradish sauce recipe is one of those times.

I saw a nice piece of fresh horseradish root on a recent trip to the market, and since I love the combination of salty soy sauce and searing, nasal-clearing wasabi, I decided to try a similar preparation with a couple grilled tuna steaks.

The recipe is very straightforward, and the only piece of special equipment you will need is a microplane-style grater, so you can turn the aromatic radish into a fine, white snow. As is custom, I've listed my best guesses on the ingredient amounts below, but consider everything in this, "to taste." I didn't use citrus, as I went with the tomato slices, but that would surely work too.

By the way, I did a little research (very little), and read that some believe the term "horseradish" comes from the fact that horses were once used to crush the spicy roots under-hoof before being grated. Unless those were some very well-trained (and regular) horses, and they were wearing some kind of sanitary horse slippers, I'm not sure that was such a great method.

If you don't find fresh horseradish, give this a try with finely grated ginger. I can't believe that wouldn't work quite well. Also, as I mentioned in the video, this same condiment would be lovely with all kinds of fresh grilled seafood. Enjoy!

Ingredients (for 2):
2 (8-oz) tuna steaks, lightly oiled
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sambal chili sauce
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish root, plus more as needed
4 sliced sweet cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced green onion to garnish

View the complete recipe

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Photo (c) Flickr user mmatins
Wishing you all a fun, festive, and hopefully food-filled Fourth of July! Michele and I are laying low this year, finishing up some big projects around the house. But don't worry, "all work and no play" is not something patriot Americans like us are known for. There will be enough beer, baseball and barbecue around to properly give respect to the greatest country on earth. Happy birthday America!

In what's become a little July 4th tradition on the blog, here's “Stars and Stripes Forever” played by four girls, in matching shirts, on the Trombone. Since there are probably only nine or ten girls in the entire country that play trombone, to see four in one clip is a special treat. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July Special: Cherry Bomb Chicken – Because There Are No Grape Bombs

I was playing around with a new brine idea for grilled chicken, and decided that since I was using cherry tomatoes and explosive habanero peppers, I'd do a little 4th of July firecracker-themed word play and call this "Cherry Bomb Chicken."

Unfortunately, the sweetest, ripest cherry tomatoes at the market that day were grape tomatoes, which makes the name somewhat dubious. Never one to worry about letting facts get in the way of a good story, I decided to double down.

Now I'm claiming that not only does "cherry" refer to the tomatoes, it also refers to the old phase, "that's cherry," which is how us old folks used to say something was, "the bomb." As far as a technique for ensuring your holiday chicken is ultra-moist and flavorful, this is both "cherry" and "the bomb."

I had a quail dish once in which the birds where marinated in a tomato-water brine, before being grilled. I remembered it was really good, and that's what inspired this relatively odd treatment. Thanks to the magic of brining, this really will almost guarantee a juicy, tasty piece of chicken – and the method allows for countless customizations.

By the way, don't be tempted to leave it in the brine longer; 4-6 hours is ideal. You want the meat brined, not cured. This will also work for pork chops if that's more your thing. I hope you give this a try soon, and that you all have a fantastic 4th of July weekend! Enjoy!

1 quart cold water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 habanero peppers
1/2 teaspoon allspice
4 cloves garlic
Oil Rub:
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 4 lb. quartered chicken plus wings
2 tbsp red pepper jelly (or sub bbq sauce, or teriyaki sauce)

View the complete recipe