Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh, You Little Dumpling!

I just returned from dinner at a place here in San Francisco called Shanghai Dumpling King, where Michele and I enjoyed their famous Xiao Long Bao, or, as it’s also known, Shanghai soup dumplings. I got the tip from my friend, Amy Sherman, from Cooking with Amy, and she was not kidding. They were so incredibly good.

The photo is of some crab and pork dumplings I just posted on Instagram (btw, if you want to follow my foodie adventures in all their photographic glory, you should get that app). When I got home, I went to YouTube to try and find a how-to video for it, and lo and behold, there was a great one…shot in the exact same restaurant we had just left! I love when that happens.

Anyway, this comes from the fine folks at, and features chef Andrea Nguyen, author of the celebrated cookbook, Asian Dumplings, and Shanghai Dumpling King’s chef and owner Lu Kuang. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Creamy Wild Mushroom Ragout – A Triple Threat of Fungi Flavor

This very easy mushroom ragout, not only looks and tastes great, but it one of those magical recipes that shines equally as bright whether you serve it with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We call these dishes, “triple threats,” and they’re important weapons in any cook’s arsenal.

Imagine this under a perfectly poached egg for breakfast – the golden yolk slowly running into the hot mushrooms and creamy sauce; all sitting on a thick slab of crispy toast. It’s almost too perfect to comprehend. I said “almost,” so try to comprehend it.

For lunch, I can’t think of a better meatless meal than this and a cold, crisp green salad. You could score bonus foodie points for using the same vinegar you used in the ragout, to make the dressing.

For dinner, the possibilities are endless. There are very few meat-based main courses this wouldn’t make a very handsome side dish for. Or, used as a sauce for those meats, or even just over a plate of pasta.

As I mentioned in the video, literally any combination of fresh mushrooms will work. If you can’t get fresh wild mushrooms, you can always use the trick of adding some dried porcini or morel to plain button mushrooms. These are now sold at virtually every large grocery store, and their funkier flavors will permeate the porous flesh of the regular ‘shrooms.

Anyway, I’m not in the habit of threatening my readers, let alone triple-threatening them, but I really hope you all give this outrageously delicious mushroom ragout a try soon. By the way, don't forget we showed you all how easy it is to make you own creme fraiche in this video. Enjoy!

1 1/4 lbs mixed mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 tbsp champagne vinegar, or other wine vinegar
2 tbsp cognac, brandy or sherry
1/2 cup chicken broth or as needed
1 tbsp fresh herb
toasted bread

View the complete recipe

Monday, August 29, 2011

Leaving New Orleans, Heavier and Happier Than When I Got Here…

And that’s saying something, since I was pretty damn happy when I left. You can tell how much fun a city is, and how wonderful the food is, by how much I post while I’m there. If you notice, there’s been nothing on the blog since Friday, and there are dozens of great reasons for that – busy eating plates of fried oysters like this one, from the Acme Oyster House, being just one. Anyway, I’ll be back in San Francisco tonight, after a great IFBC. Stay tuned for a brand new video recipe tomorrow!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hello from New Orleans and the 2011 IFBC

Just a quick hello to let you know I’ll be in New Orleans this weekend for the 2011 International Food Bloggers Conference. For some background on this event, you should check out my recap of last year’s conference (which, by the way, I wrote high on cold medicine). Seen here is Barnaby Dorfman, CEO of Foodista, kicking off the festivities. These guys literally invented the food blogger conference, for which I’ll be forever grateful. 

The food down here is ridiculously awesome; so don’t be surprised if you see some new Cajun and Creole inspired video recipes in the near future. I’ve already had some amazing fried chicken on bourbon-spiked sweet potatoes, and also tempted fate by eating raw oysters in August. My new friend, David Aman, from DocNO Productions, took me out for some oysters and beer at Pascal's Manale, and you can see the visual proof of my culinary courage below. 
Apparently, it’s fine to eat oysters in the summer, and that old safety warning is leftover from the days before refrigeration, when there was a real danger. I’ve done no independent scientific research, but they tasted fine to me, and I feel great.

I’ll be back in San Francisco on Monday. In the meantime, enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trippa alla Romana – Do I Expect You to Swallow This Tripe? Yes!

On a scale of 0-to-Chris Cosentino, when it comes to cooking and enjoying offal, I come in at around a 5. I’ve never been big on kidneys, brain, and heart, but I do enjoy fried sweetbreads, grilled tongue, and this Roman-style tripe.

Let’s just get this out of the way now – tripe is the lining of a cow’s stomach. Not sure which one, as I remember from grade school that cows have a bunch of them. You could always Google for more info, but really, what else do you need to know?

This recipe is inspired by three different sources; Mario Batali, where I learned the trick of adding vanilla to the cooking liquid; my grandfather, who I believe made me the first tripe I ever ate; and a great neighborhood restaurant, Locanda, where I borrowed the idea of adding garbanzo beans.

I’m not sure how “tripe” ended up being used as an expression for “something poor, worthless, or offensive,” but culinarily-speaking, it’s none of those things. When prepared in this method, it’s has a pleasantly mild, but distinct flavor.

The spicy, garlicky tomato sauce is spiked with lots of fresh mint, which has a magical affinity for the tripe. When it comes to great sauces for dipping crusty Italian bread, it doesn’t get any better than this. If you like tripe, you’ll definitely love this version.

If you don’t like tripe, or have never tried it, I implore you to chef-up, and give it a try. Hey, no guts, no glory. Enjoy!

For the tripe:
2 1/2 pounds honeycomb tripe
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
5 quarts cold water
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 oz pancetta
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups tripe cooking liquid, more as needed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
1 bunch mint leaves, finely chopped

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Up for Bid: The Chef John Experience – Spend a Day Creating a Recipe Video with Me!

You may have read about the sudden and tragic loss my friend Jennifer Perillo recently suffered, and how the food blogger community was rallying around her via #apieforMikey.

In an inspired effort to turn that love and compassion into something even more tangible, Shauna Ahern from Gluten Free Girl, and Maggy Keet from Bloggers Without Borders, have created #AFundForJennie. Bloggers are auctioning off goods, services, and artwork to raise funds that go directly to help Jennifer and her two girls in this time of need.

To support the effort, I'll be auctioning off what I'm calling, "The Chef John Experience." The winning bidder will get to spend a full day with me planning, cooking, filming, and editing a video recipe that will air on Food Wishes. This will include three fabulous meals, and all the bad puns you can handle. Not to mention, the greatest re-gifted swag bag in the history of re-gifted swag bags.

I will take care of all related expenses (you will be seriously spoiled), but you do need to get to San Francisco to enjoy what I promise will be a very entertaining day. I will show you all my secret production methods, and share stories that will shock and amaze – several of which will be true.

If you would like to participate, simply leave you bid in this comments section. You can also send me your bid via email. I'll add a deadline to this auction eventually, but for now I just want to start the process and see where it goes.

If your not interested in this particular auction, but want to help anyway, click this link, or the BWOB DONATE button above, and contribute now! Thank you!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grandma Kelly’s Good Old Fashioned Pancakes Really Measure Up

I was looking over a list of the all-time most popular recipes posted on Allrecipes last week, and there it was at number one…”Good Old Fashioned Pancakes.” Since I’ve never done a classic American pancake recipe video, despite countless food wishes for just that, I decided it was an omen that could not be ignored.

This is from Dakota Kelly, who claims to have found it on a well-worn card in her Grandma's recipe book. Well, Grandma Kelly, if that is your real name, this recipe makes one fine stack of pancakes. Not too thick, not too thin, tender, light, buttery, and delicious.

I’ve always used those exact same seven ingredients, as do 90% of all pancake makers, but like many “pros,” I simply throw everything in a bowl, and stir in enough milk, until the batter feels “right.” I never bothered to write down the formula.

So, as much as I hate to admit it, it was actually kind of fun to use an exact set of measurements, knowing I’ll now be able to repeat these results again and again. I know that boxed mix is convenient, but every once in a while you need to make this kind of recipe from scratch. I hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 12 small pancakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Friday, August 19, 2011

Chef John's "Fresh Five" Secret Ingredients

When my friends at Hungry Nation asked if they could come by and film a segment they were doing called the "Fresh Five," I said, "Hells yeah!" Which is kind of weird, since I never use that expression.

Anyway, "Fresh Five" features foodies from Hungry Nation doing a top five list of favorites; things like recipes, kitchen equipment, or in my case, secret ingredients. And, yes, before you do the joke, I'll do it for you…No, I'm not clear on the concept of a secret ingredient. Anyway, the smoked paprika-rubbed cat is out of the bag now, so sit back and enjoy!

Head over to the Hungry Nation YouTube channel to check out the other Fresh Fives, and more fab foodie fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stuffed Summer Squash with Merguez Sausage and Goat Cheese – Tastes Like Not Summer Squash

I always smile when I hear chefs say you should never cover-up or overpower the natural flavors of the main ingredient. Yes, sometimes you should, and this Merguez sausage and goat cheese stuffed summer squash recipe is a perfect example.

Show me a person that would honestly claim that these lovely summer squash would have been better had we not stuffed them with spicy lamb sausage and cheese, and I’ll show you a vegan.

This is one of those recipe videos where I want you to pay attention to the concept and the simple procedure, and not necessarily the ingredients I used. There are so many varieties of squash that would work here, and ten times that in sausage/cheese combos.

These stuffed squash will be especially useful if you’re living next door to the “why the hell do they plant such a huge garden?” neighbors. You know the ones; sweet, older couple, eight kids all moved out, and yet they still plant like two acres of zucchini and crookneck squash.

The next time they leave that 20-lb basket on your doorstep, give this amazing recipe a try. Enjoy!

5-6 round green summer squash, halved
4 oz Merguez sausage, or any spicy sausage
2-3 oz fresh soft goat cheese
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste
breadcrumbs and olive oil as needed

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ham and Shrimp Gravy – Plus the Recipe for Marital Bliss

I didn’t call this ham and shrimp gravy recipe “shrimp and grits” for two reasons: One, because I’ve already done a video called “shrimp and grits;” and two, I don’t like this served over grits. So, why did I serve it over grits then? Well, you’ll have to watch the video to get that answer, as I divulge that in a little chestnut at the end of the clip

I much prefer this over rice or mashed potatoes. Even pasta would make for a deliciously effective delivery system. I just don’t like how the gravy dissolves the grits, which then kind of runs through the tines of my fork. Having said that, it’s not like I’d ever turn down a plate of this because of such textural concerns.

If you only remember one thing from this video, besides the priceless advice regarding the secret to a happy marriage, it’s my “don’t buy cooked shrimp” advice. If you look at the shrimp section at the grocery store, it’s usually dominated by bags of already cooked shrimp. It may seem a lot easier, but it’s not.

You can now get raw, peeled and deveined shrimp (ideally from the Gulf Coast), which takes almost the same time to cook, as the precooked shrimp does to heat through. When you used cooked shrimp, all those sweet juices that should be running into your gravy have been lost in some processing plant months ago.

In case you can’t find frozen, raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, I believe I shown how to prep those in previous videos. I just can’t remember which ones! Maybe it’s time for a new video tutorial. Anyway, I hope you give this a whirl soon. Enjoy!

4 tbsp butter
6 ounces smoked ham
4 green onions, chopped (the light parts)
1/2 cup small diced celery
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1 large jalepeno, small dice
2 cloves minced garlic, optional
2 tsp Cajun seasoning, or to taste
3 tbsp flour
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I forgot to add, but you should with the broth)
1 pound small, frozen, raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
chopped green parts of onions to garnish

View the complete recipe

Monday, August 15, 2011

What’s Cooking? That’s What!

Even though it will be business as usual here on the blog and Foodwishes’ YouTube channel, one advantage of the new partnership with Allrecipes will be working with my friend, Michael Ketchum, the host and brains behind

A few years ago, I thought it would be a cool idea to travel around the country for a few months, filming favorite recipes in some of our viewers’ homes. I didn’t have any travel funds for such a trip, so when my sponsorship pitch to Amtrak was politely declined, the idea was shelved. Well, that concept is basically what Michael’s “What’s Cooking?” is all about. 

In each webisode, an Allrecipes' home cook shares the tips, tricks, and stories behind their favorite dishes. Anyway, I wanted to introduce you to Michael and, and hope you’ll head over to take a look at their collection of video recipes. Here, Michael joins Kerri in Hutto, Texas, to capture her making a batch of tender pork spare ribs. You can subscribe to the Allrecipes' YouTube channel here.

By the way, I’ll have a brand new video recipe up tomorrow for shrimp and ham gravy (see photo below). Enjoy!

"What's Cooking? How to Make Pork Spare Ribs

Tomorrow on Food Wishes: Shrimp and Ham Gravy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

#APieforMikey: Love and Loss in the Age of Twitter

Monday, my friend Jennifer Perillo lost her husband, Mikey. At age 51, he suddenly collapsed and died from a massive heart attack – with no warning, he was here one moment, gone the next. I heard about this on Twitter.

The initial shock and disbelief was quickly swept away by waves of profound anger. Not directed towards anyone or anything, I was simply mad at the universe for this cruelly random and incomprehensible event.

I’ve only met Jennifer once, spending a few carefree days with her at a food event in Sonoma a couple years ago, but through our blogs, and more so Twitter, we had become good friends. For all its superfluous minutia, the social network not only makes real friendships possible, it makes them inevitable.

Instead of withdrawing into the darkness, and shutting out the world, Jennifer used her social network to share her grief, and help her cope with this unimaginable loss. She did so with a courage, dignity, and grace far beyond anything I could have managed.

Inundated by online friends asking what they could do to help, she suggested making this Creamy Peanut Butter Pie, as it was a favorite of Mikey’s. If you search the hashtag, #APieforMikey, you’ll see a truly astonishing outpouring of love and support. As I tweeted yesterday, if there's a stronger, more generous and caring online community than food bloggers, I don't know what it would be.

As many of you know, this has been quite an amazing week for me personally, with the announced acquisition. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a crazy, hectic week of soaring highs, and gut-punch lows. So, for reasons too trivial to mention, I haven’t made the pie yet, which is okay, since the tribute really isn’t about the pie.

It’s about making something delicious for someone you love, sharing it with them, and then, in Jennifer’s words, “Hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.” This is something Michele and I try and do on a regular basis.

Anyway, stay tuned for a future video recipe tribute to Jennifer and Mikey. In the meantime, I wanted to share this extraordinary video done by the incredibly talented White On Rice Couple, Todd and Diane. This has to be the most powerful, sincere, and touching food video I’ve ever seen. Enjoy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Black Pepper Blackberry Slush – Relax, There's More Food Coming

Very early in my career, I remember being at a somewhat fancy banquet, and after the first course had been served, the waiters came to the table and placed down, what appeared to be a small bowl of sorbet.

I was told it was a "champagne intermezzo." Instead of being happy, I was more concerned that somehow they had forgotten about our main dish and skipped right to dessert. Not wanting to make a fuss, I ate, wondering what going to happen next.

What happened next was a very nice Veal Oscar. Relieved, I admitted to a tablemate the sorbet had caught me a bit off guard. After a few chuckles, it was explained that an intermezzo was a small, refreshing palate cleanser served in between courses.

So, while you are more than welcome to use this black pepper blackberry slush as a dessert, I'm hoping you give it as try as an intermezzo at your next dinner party. Some of you may call this a "granita," and it is very similar, but it's not quite as icy as that. This has a softer, slushier texture.

I made a very small batch, as I only had a half-pint of blackberries, but you can double or triple this easily for a bigger group. You can also make it the day before, "slush it," and keep it frozen until needed. I hope you give it a try soon, but do me a favor, and warn your guests, so they're not worried the meal is over. Enjoy!

1 cup blackberries
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons water
pinch of black pepper
very small pinch of salt

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Peach Cobbler Not the Work of a Shoemaker

I’m afraid the expression is quickly dying out, but there was a time when being called a “shoemaker” was the ultimate kitchen insult. It meant that your cooking skills were so weak, the cobbler down the street could have taken a break from resoling wingtips, come into the kitchen, and done just as well.

That little culinary history lesson has absolutely nothing to do with this beautiful peach cobbler, but I’ve been trying to keep the saying alive, and it gave me an excuse to share. Ironically, this recipe is so easy any shoemaker could master it.

I have to thank everyone who chimed in last week when I asked for cobbler recipes and inspiration. I received so many great variations and techniques, and while I didn’t use any one single recipe, I definitely used parts of several.

I hope you don’t have much trouble finding fresh ripe peaches this time of year, but if you can’t, this will still be very nice using canned. Speaking of finding ingredients, one thing I learned from my research was that for whatever reason, self-rising flour was the way to go.

No one could quite explain it, but cook after southern cook report that the self-rising flour performs much better than plain with salt and baking powder added in (see ingr. below). Do you have a theory? Maybe most people’s baking powder is so old it’s not as strong as the leavening in a freshly purchased bag of SR flour? What I do know is how nicely this turned out.

Anyway, I’m going to kick off my shoes, put up my feet, and savor the last of this delicious cobbler. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Reports from people trying this are that the ones made with self-rising flour came out awesome, and the ones using regular flour didn't work well at all. Fair warning! Get some self-rising flour!

For the peaches:
5-6 cups sliced peaches (if you use canned peaches, do not make the syrup)
1/8 tsp Chinese 5-spice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 cup water
1 cups sugar
For the batter:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (real butter! Do NOT use margarine!)
1 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or 1 1/2 cup AP flour, plus 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 3/4 tsp salt - NOTE: this does not work as well...get some self-rising flour!)
1 1/2 cups milk

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Food Wishes Has Been Acquired by Allrecipes!

It is with tremendous pride and gratitude that I announce Food Wishes has been acquired by Not only is this tremendously good news on a personal level, but it also means joining forces with the world's number one digital food brand.

While I’ve done a decent job of growing the brand, I’m very much looking forward to having our content in front of a new, significantly larger audience, and that’s exactly what this makes possible.

If you’re worried this move is going to result in fewer, or differently formatted videos, relax. If anything, this move allows me the freedom to produce more content than ever before, and this was one of the main reasons I decided to take the deal.

A million thanks for all your amazing support and generosity. This would not, could not, have happened without you. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mahi Mahi Ceviche Ceviche

The last time I posted a ceviche recipe video, I almost had to hire a security detail to protect me from angry Peruvians. I'd done a bay scallop and mango ceviche, and within minutes of uploading, highly annoyed South Americans were demanding I change the name, since what I had made was NOT a ceviche.

It seems as though there are some very strict views on what may and may not go into a ceviche, which is too bad, since the technique begs for accessories. Thankfully, I'm no fundamentalist, so I was free to make this version.

One traditional ingredient I omitted was the sliced onions. Personally, I don't like the sharp bite of the raw onion in this recipe, so I decided to use chives instead. I'm pretty sure I'm in a very small minority, as most people consider the sliced onions an absolute necessity, so feel free to add those in.

This mahi mahi ceviche requires a little bit of knife work, but when you consider the seasonal advantage of not using the stove, and just how tasty this really is, I think it's all worthwhile. You can also use shrimp, scallops, swordfish, and snapper.

By the way, sorry about that extra "ceviche" up there, but it's not often you get the chance to publish a symmetrical post title. Enjoy!

3/4 to 1 pound fresh mahi mahi
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
pinch of dried oregano
pinch of cayenne
2/3 cup equal parts fresh squeezed lime and lemon juice
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup orange segments
1/2 cup thinly-sliced red or white onion (or chives instead)
2 tablespoons julienne radish
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This Blueberry Clafoutis Didn’t Get My Goat (Cheese that is)

I’ve had this wacky idea to try a berry-studded goat cheese clafoutis, so when I saw these gorgeous looking blueberries at the market, I figured the time was right. 

I had a couple ounces of leftover chèvre in the fridge, and was very excited to see if this possibly odd, but fundamentally sounds idea would work. And, everything would have, if I had only skipped breakfast that morning.

That morning I woke up starving, and facing a pile of emails and other less fun computer-driven busywork. So without thinking (literally) I whipped a nice cheese omelet, using the aforementioned cheese. D’oh!

It was a delicious mistake, and one I forgave myself for very quickly, but it also presented me with a tough choice. Go back out to the store, or just make a good, old fashioned, plain blueberry clafoutis. Laziness prevailed, and here you have it.

So, while I’m very proud of this clafoutis, I can’t help but wonder how much better it would have been with that faint, but tangy accent from the cheese. Maybe you could give it a try and let me know? I was simply going to add it to the blender and mix it right into the blender.

Anyway, goat cheese or not, this recipe is a great way to enjoy fresh, summer fruit, and as I mention in the video, this technique really lets it play the starring roll. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

butter as needed
pint of blueberries
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Do You Know About Peach Cobbler?

Photo (c) Flickr User: Neil Conway
I've never made a peach cobbler. I've made peach crumbles, peach crisps, peach tarts, peach pies, and peach parfaits, but not one single cobbler. 

I've been doing some research for an upcoming video, and I'm leaning towards the classic southern style where the batter bakes up through a buttery layer of peaches and juice to form a beautifully browned crust over the top. I literally just made myself hungry typing that sentence! If you have any "to die for" peach cobbler recipes, please pass them along! Thanks and stay tuned!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grilled Swordfish Bruschetta with Thai Basil Cherry Tomato Salad - The End of a Great Recipe

This grilled swordfish bruschetta recipe is the type of thing I rarely think to film. Recipes that are so simple I assume there won't be any great technique or creative twist to feature. Of course, as soon as I serve it, I realize there was plenty to share, and end up eating with a large side of regret.

This time, I decided to not let that happen, and filmed the plating of the recipe, which gave me the opportunity to at least describe the recipe. There are only a couple ingredients, and as you'll see and hear in the video, the procedure could not be simpler.

There are two keys to this recipe: One is to add enough oil and vinegar to your tomatoes to make a good amount of "sauce," with which to douse the grilled fish and bread. Secondly, be sure to grill the bread very well over the coals. It should be golden brown with distinctive charred grill marks. The bitter hit from these stripes of charred bread actually makes the tomatoes even sweeter and more delicious.

I hope you give this a try while cherry tomatoes are at their peak ripeness. Below you'll see all the ingredients I used to make this incredibly simple, yet extraordinary meal. Enjoy!

6 slices French bread, brushed with olive oil
For the fish:
2 swordfish steaks
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
* For the tomato salad:
1 cup cherry tomato halves
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly sliced basil
pinch of cayenne
* Mix and let sit out for at least 30 minutes