Saturday, June 30, 2012

Balsamic Strawberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta – Currently Trending

Some culinary trends are silly. I don’t want deconstructed soups or faux-Kobe sliders. Others are only silly when done poorly. The popular savory/sweet trend is a great example.

While it's often some kind of salted caramel bacon topped ridiculousness, It can be something as easy and approachable as this sexy strawberry goat cheese bruschetta. The way the tangy, slightly salty goat cheese works with the syrupy, balsamic-coated strawberries and crispy, charred bread is a thing of beauty. 

By the way, I’ve got great news if you stink at picking out sweet strawberries. Because we are using a balsamic reduction, this dish actually works very nicely with less-than-perfect berries.

However, one thing that will not work is poor quality vinegar. You’re going to want to use real, aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy. There’s just no substitute. Every large market sells it now, so pick up a bottle, and try this very tasty, albeit trendy treat soon. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Dishing Gourmet, for it was their lovely photo on TasteSpotting that inspired this post!

Ingredients for 12 Balsamic Strawberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta
12 slices of Italian bread
olive oil, as needed
1 cup fresh goat cheese, room temp
1/2 cup aged balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4 cup
1 pound strawberries, washed and diced
salt and pepper to taste
fresh thyme leaves as desired

View the complete recipe

Thursday, June 28, 2012

La Fuji Mama’s Buckwheat Crêpes with Avocado & Cheddar Cheese

This pretty pancake is from my friend Rachael, aka La FujiMama, and as I watched her video I couldn’t help but think, why hadn’t I thought of this? I love buckwheat crepes, and I love melted cheese, yet I never thought to grill cheddar inside a folded buckwheat crepe. 

Anyway, I’m going to try this crepe soon, and see what kind of wacky filling I can come up with. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the video, and thanks to Rachael for sharing! After you watch, be sure to head over to La Fuji Mama to read the post and get the original recipe. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Miso-Glazed Skirt Steak – There is Nothing More American Than Foreign Ingredients

This succulent grilled skirt steak recipe would be perfect for your 4th of July cookout, and what better way to celebrate America’s birthday than with an ingredient from Japan. 

Our nation has lots to be proud of; and one thing I take special pride in is our willingness to integrate any and all culinary influences into our cuisine. We don’t much care where it comes from, as long as it’s delicious, we will assimilate.

There was a time, not that long ago, when only a lucky few “gourmands” living near big cities had access to imported ingredients like miso, balsamic vinegar, truffle oil, etc. Nowadays, these items are found in virtually every large grocery store, from sea to shining sea. When I hear the words, “immigrants built this country,” I don’t think of railroads, bridges, and roads; I think pizza, sushi, and foie gras torchon.

I’ll admit to knowing very little about miso, or why it’s so effective in this simple glaze, but that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with a little mystery in your cooking (think burlesque vs. full-frontal). How and why it makes the beef so juicy and flavorful is not nearly as important as the fact it does.

I’ve done countless variations of this glaze, and oddly enough I prefer a red wine vinegar in this, over more obvious choices like rice vinegar. Maybe it’s just because I associate red wine with red meat, but I really think there’s something else going on. What? No idea (see paragraph 4).

You’ll notice the ingredient list is relatively short, and it should probably stay that way, but of course I expect you to tweak this to your personal tastes. Not doing so would be downright un-American. I hope you give this great grilled miso glazed skirt steak a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 smaller portions:
1 whole skirt steak (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tbsp yellow miso
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 packed tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 cloves finely crushed garlic
freshly ground black pepper to taste
*Glaze should be spread over both sides of meat, and left out for 30 minutes.
**I think skirt steak has the best texture if cooked between medium-rare and medium. I'd remove at an internal temp of 130-135 F.

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Squash Birds of a Feather

© Irvin Lin, Eat the Love
Those of you familiar with competitive yellow squash carving know how intense these contests can get, and an event I recently co-hosted with Allrecipes in Seattle was no different. The tension was so thick, you could've cut it with a swag-bag paring knife.

This battle royal took place at the conclusion of BlogHerFood weekend, and an exclusive group of foodies were invited based on their blogging experience, passion for edible art, and to a much greater extent, their availability.

The theme of the day was centered on my mascot and lifelong friend, the squash bird. After regaling them with the strange and mostly true story of how it came to be, and demonstrating how I make the bird, our honored attendees set to work creating their own renditions for fun and fabulous prizes.

Despite bottomless Mimosas, I thought the birds  these “gordiators” produced were extraordinary. Here are a few of the highlights. 

© Irvin Lin, Eat the Love
I only had my cell phone to take pictures with, so the blurry shots are mine. Thankfully my friend Irvin at Eat the Love was there, and graciously shared some of the pictures he took.

The winning bird was from Michael Procopio, the blogger/food writer behind the always entertaining Food for the Thoughtless. The classic combination of huge beak and fabulous hat proved irresistible to the judges. More subtle was the upright posture, which gave the bird an almost regal stance.

In addition to being a squash bird boss, the hilarious Mr. Procopio also gives good Twitter, so be sure to check him out there. By the way, be prepared to look stuff up on Wikipedia.

Speaking of fabulous, the inimitable Linda Nicholson, aka Salty Seattle, was also in attendance. As you can see, she was clearly trying to distract the competition with her choice of footwear, which mimicked the bird’s bright orange feet. Did it work? Not really, but who cares? Look at those boots!

© Irvin Lin, Eat the Love
Her squash birds were almost as striking. The saline siren attempted an ambition scene consisting of what appears to be two squash birds trying to land on the same rock. 

Unfortunately, during the lunch break, some mayo from her sandwich must have fallen on the birds, and she was disqualified for violating Chapter 3, Section 7 of the official rules, which covers inappropriate use of condiments.

Many attendees utilized "hair" and other eye-catching accessories to make an impression. Sean Timberlake from Hedonia tried to pull off the rarely seen cock’s comb/toupee combo; and DPaul Brown from's follic affectations not only dressed up his entry, but also helped indicate what kind of cigarette was in the beak.

© Irvin Lin, Eat the Love
Another favorite was this submission from Andrew Wilder at Eating Rules. I thought it was a smart approach to make the bird look like it was bending over feeding. 

We assumed Andrew was trying to show movement, although he did spend a lot of time making sure everyone saw just how anatomically correct the tail end of his creation was, so there may have been ulterior motives.

Anyway, we really did have a great time, and I want to thank everyone who participated. Also, a huge thanks to my friends at Allrecipes for hosting and organizing such a fun event! 

If you want to learn how to make your very own squash bird, check out this video, and as always, enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fast & Easy Creamed Spinach – Cash Rules Everything Around Me (C.R.E.A.M.)

When people ask me if I fear eventually running out of things to video, I say no, and then joke that even if I did, I’d just start filming them all over again to keep that sweet ad revenue flowing in.

While that wasn’t the reason, I did think about that while filming this new and possibly improved creamed spinach recipe. As I’ve admitted before, every once in a while I’ll film something because I feel like eating it, and not because it’s a food wish. This lovely side dish is one such recipe.

I was driving over the Bay Bridge a few weeks ago, and C.R.E.A.M. by the Wu-Tang Clan was on the stereo. As Raekwon the Chef and Method Man serenaded me over the foggy span, I started to crave a steak and side of creamed spinach. This happens more than I care to admit, where a song triggers a yearning for some sort of tasty bite. Please tell me this happens to you too.

This more contemporary creamed spinach recipe is very similar flavor-wise to our previously posted “Steakhouse Creamed Spinach,” but since it doesn’t use a béchamel, it’s a bit lighter in texture. You'll need to use a nice heavy cream, since it thickens beautifully as it reduces, leaving you with a simple, but still luxurious sauce.

The only way to ruin this dish is to not squeeze all the water out of the cooked spinach. If that’s covered, the rest is pretty simple. Keep in mind that even perfect squeezed spinach will still thin out the sauce a bit; so don’t be afraid to reduce the cream until quite thick. You can always add another drizzle of cream if you go too far.

Anyway, as the WTC would say, I hope you’re trying to hear what I'm kickin' in your ear. This would make a great side dish for your next steak dinner, and you should give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 pounds cleaned spinach
2 tsp olive oil
For the cream sauce:
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced shallots
pinch of salt, cayenne, freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
3/4 cup cream
2 tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Coming Soon: Miso-Glazed Skirt Steak

One silver lining with this kitchen remodel is that I've had to do lots of cooking outside on the grill. That means playing around with lots of new recipe ideas, like this miso-glazed skirt steak I tried yesterday. I'm making a video of this meaty masterpiece for sure, and I'll post later this week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rusty Chicken Thighs – What’s in a Name?

When I first came up, dishes had cool names, but that eventually went out of fashion, and chefs just started listing all the ingredients on the menu instead. That’s all well and good, but the problem for recipes like this “Rusty Chicken,” is that if I called it “Grilled Chicken Thighs marinated with Garlic, Soy, Maple Syrup, Chilies and Rice Vinegar,” you’d be thinking about all those parts and not the sum (of the yum?).

Since no one flavor dominates this beautifully balanced, all-purpose grilled chicken marinade, I’d prefer it just be called “rusty chicken” – celebrating the color of the marinade and meat, instead of the individual ingredients. I guess what I’m getting at is this doesn’t necessarily taste like the ingredients sound.

Besides, I think recipes with unique names take on their own personality, and it only takes a few tall tales to build a mythology around it. One reason Buffalo chicken wings taste so good is because they’re called “Buffalo wings,” and not “hot sauce & margarine-glazed wings.” Anyway, call this what you want, just make sure you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 or 2 cloves garlic sliced
2 tsp to 2 tbsp hot chili sauce or paste, or to taste
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
*Of course you should taste and adjust this marinade before pouring over the chicken!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Classic Roasted Red Potatoes – Overlooked and Essential

This roasted red potatoes recipe is one of those food wishes that seems so basic I tend to pass it over for the more provocative requests. I’m sure this has been asked for dozens of times, and yet 725 videos in, I still hadn't posted this iconic side dish. Well, that madness ends today.

While I may take this procedure for granted, it really is a technique that should be mastered by all home cooks. There are three key elements necessary to achieve roasted red potato nirvana. You need a heavy, shallow roasting pan or baking dish, lots of olive oil, and the most precious ingredient of all…time.

I use a Le Creuset, which is glazed cast iron, but any heavy-duty pan should work. No need for expensive extra virgin olive oil for this; just choose whatever you’d use to sauté onions and peppers for Italian sausage, which, coincidentally, would pair awesomely with roasted red potatoes. As for the relatively long cooking time, we make no apologies.

These are technically overcooked, but that’s what it takes to get that perfect marriage of crispy-crusty outside and creamy-soft inside. The only real way to lose at this is to undercook the potatoes. This is considered a crime against nature, and will not be tolerated.

I served mine next to some grilled bass, which was topped with a very garlicky sauce, so I didn’t add any to my potatoes. If you do want some garlic flavor, add some crushed cloves to hot olive oil, and let it sit for an hour. Then strain and use olive oil as shown.

Anyway, I'm sorry I didn’t post this great recipe sooner, and I’ll be sure to pay more attention to these types of requests. This is the kind of beautifully humble dish that makes any meal better, and is more than worth learning to make well. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions Roasted Red Potatoes:
2 pounds red potatoes, cut in evenly-sized pieces
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
thyme sprigs, add whole and remove barren twigs after cooked
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded, cut in chunks

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Besides reminding me of my father,
this also reminds me how primitive
my audio/video equipment used to be!
I like reposting this video on Father’s Day, since it’s the recipe that most reminds me of my father John. Growing up, I used to tag along with him on the golf course, and after the round he’d take me to the clubhouse for lunch. I always ordered the exact same thing – an open-face, New York steak sandwich, medium-rare. 

I just loved how the crispy toast would soak up all those wonderful juices, and eating a sandwich with fork and a knife always seemed so grown-up. Sitting there eating, while the men laughed and argued about their rounds is one of my earliest and fondest culinary memories. I’d even get a glass of Coke with a cherry in it to mimic my father’s Manhattan, so I too could participate in the post-game cocktails, which even at that age I could tell were an essential part of the ritual. 

Speaking of golf, we’re heading to Sacramento to celebrate Father’s Day with my father-in-law, Al. Not only is Big Al is a great golfer, but he’s an even better father, and I only wish he and my dad could have played a round of golf together. That would have been a lot of fun. Anyway, whether you’re golfing or gardening, eating steak or tofu, drinking Manhattans or iced tea, I hope you all have a wonderful Father’s Day. Enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

How NOT to Roast Stuffed Artichokes

Everyone knows that before you stuff and roast an artichoke, you have to boil it first. I know this, and have used this accepted technique many times.  

However, somewhere deep in the memory banks were vague recollections of a stuffed artichoke appetizer that the chef claimed had been roasted raw. This video shows what happens when a cook’s heart ignores a cook’s brain.

The finished product was visually arresting (to put it kindly), and despite looking completely inedible had quite a nice taste and texture. No, that wasn’t the problem. It was the almost 2 1/2 hours (seemed longer) I spent making it that took the wind out of my sails. I love stuffed artichokes, but not that much.

So, I’m recommending we boil our trimmed artichokes in salted water for 30 minutes, or until they just start to get tender. Then, drain very well, stuff with the crumbs and roast until tender and crispy-brown. You’ll have the same amazing artichoke appetizer without the Monopoly-tournament time commitment. Enjoy!

For each artichoke:
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
pinch of dry or fresh herbs
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove minced garlic
*boil for about 30 minutes in salted water, drain very well, stuff and roast at 375 F. until tender and browned.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cold Strawberry Soda on a Hot Summer Day

Michele and I are still mid-remodel, so this easy, breezy, strawberry syrup recipe was a welcomed addition to the video schedule. I have my friend Jen Yu from Use Real Butter to thank for that, since it was her gorgeous post that inspired this answer to all those “summer drink” food wishes I’ve been receiving lately.

Jen publishes one of the best blogs around, and if you want to see how this beautiful beverage should really be photographed, check out her original post. Jen's fine food blogging prowess is only eclipsed by her photography skills. Speaking of which, don’t miss her photos of the recent eclipse!

I can’t think of many summer drinks this wouldn’t be great in, but for me it doesn’t get any better than a simple strawberry soda. Give me a big icy pitcher of this blush brew, an Adirondack chair, a little SPF 100 for my bald spot, and I’m ready to happily take on any heat wave. Of course this is only going to be as great as the strawberries you use, so bide your time until you come across those perfect pints.

By the way, the long-lasting aroma that will envelop your home is so enticing, so heady that the syrup almost seems like an added bonus. Michele walked in just as the berries had finished simmering, and couldn’t believe how wonderful the flat smelled. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Strawberry Syrup (makes about 1 quart)
Original recipe from Marisa McClellan’s highly regarded Food in Jars.

2 lbs very ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 cups cold water
2 cups white granulated sugar

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Man, That Looks Like One Fine Loaf

I probably would have shared this great looking turkey chipotle meatloaf recipe from my friend Sara at Average Betty anyway, but the fact that she’s calling it MANLOAF sealed the deal. For the written recipe and more info, you can check out Sara’s original post here. Enjoy! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Baked Eggs Con Huevos

If you’re wondering why I called this recipe “baked eggs with eggs,” I didn’t. No, “huevos” has another meaning, and any of your Spanish-speaking friends will be happy to tell/show you what that is. Anyway, as I said in the video intro, don’t let the generic name fool you; this “baked eggs” recipe is way more delicious than it sounds!

If you enjoy huevos rancheros, you will love this. The way the spicy sauce mingles with just barely set eggs is very similar, and when you start scooping this up with toasted chunks of bread, it gets borderline magical.

If you happen to accompany this humble dish with copious amounts of ham and bacon, this would make for quite the Father’s Day treat. You can stay with my Italianesque version, but American, Latin, or Asian versions are only a couple tweaks away.

I gave a general time of about 12 minutes at 400 degrees F., but of course this is going to vary based on your exact dish size/shape, as well as how many you are making at once. I would start checking after 10 minutes, keeping in mind that the yolks will keep firming up even after they are out of the oven.

Anyway, whether you are trying to impress dad with your brunch skills (by the way, don’t call it brunch if it’s for Dad…go with “breakfast”), or simply want to shake up your personal egg recipe routine, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 1 Portion:
Shallow oven-proof dish, just large enough for 2 eggs
2 large fresh eggs
1/3 cup marinara sauce
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herb as desired
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp cream
generous dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Minor T-Bone Mystery Solved!

I received a couple complimentary steaks to try out from

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Black Onion Relish – I’ve Never Wanted a Hot Dog So Badly in My Life!

This quick and very dirty recipe for black onion relish was quite delicious on grilled salmon, but with every bite I became more and more agitated, thinking about how utterly perfect this would have been on a grilled hot dog.

If you’re one of these enlightened souls that enjoy grilled onions on their ballpark franks, you will love this sweet and smoky condiment. 

There’s something about how the onion roasts in its own charred skin, buried in the white-hot coals, which brings a goodness not achievable in a pan. Believe me when I say, my next hot hog WILL be wearing this relish.

As usual, I played it straight with the seasonings, but if I had a dollar for every way you could adapt this relish recipe, I’d have enough money to pay someone to think of a real ending for this post. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 1 1/2 cups:
2 yellow onions
1 red pepper
chopped parsley, to taste
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
*Dress with oil and vinegar to taste - I used about 3 tbsp olive oil and 3 tbsp vinegar
Taste and adjust!

View the complete recipe

Monday, June 4, 2012

Grilled Jerk Pork Tenderloin – Because We're All a Little Jerky

Whenever I make this incredibly flavorful jerk spice marinade for chicken, I think to myself, “Man, I bet this would be great on pork tenderloin. I’ll have to try that next time.” Well, a few dozen summers have come and gone, and since I still hadn’t experienced that “next time,” I decided to finally try it, and it was great!

As expected, the spicy, aromatic marinade worked wonderfully with the lean, mild pork, and as long as you heed my warnings not to overcook the meat, you and your guests will be very happy with this. Of course your guests' happiness should be the most important thing to you, but let’s face it, it’s not.

No, a stunningly successful grilled recipe like this is all about you standing next to that platter of perfectly cooked pork – beer in one hand, tongs in the other – soaking in waves of compliments and adulation. Does that make you a Jerk jerk? Yeah, a little bit. Anyway, I hope you give this very easy recipe a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed, cut in 3 pieces each
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, about 1/3 cup picked leaves
1/2 chopped onion
1 to 4 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero peppers, seeded
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup white vinegar
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fine salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*cook until at least 145 F. internal temp

View the complete recipe

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie Worth Brawling Over

Because I grew up listening to baseball on the radio, whenever I heard the word “rhubarb,” I wouldn’t think of something edible and delicious like this amazing Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I’d think of fights.

Back in the early days of radio, when they wanted to get the sound effect of an angry mob, they’d tell the performers to repeat the word “rhubarb,” over and over. It sounds heated and contentious, yet the listener doesn’t hear any specific words.

Baseball announcers of the same era began to call baseball fights “rhubarbs,” since they sounded so much like those radio effects. I didn’t learn about this until recently, and it made me think of all the games I’d listened to during all those summers, and how never once when I heard “rhubarb,” did I think of pie.

That was until I got this wonderful recipe from my mother Pauline, who I believe got it from my Aunt Angela. As you longtime readers know, both are fantastic bakers and while I love all their pies, this might be my favorite.

So, when Matt Cain drills Matt Kemp in the back this summer, and he charges the mound prompting an ugly benches-clearing brawl, and the play-by-play guy says, “we’ve got ourselves a real rhubarb now,” I will think of this pie. This delicious, rough and tumble pie. Enjoy!

3 cups sliced rhubarb
1 cup quartered strawberries
3 large eggs
pinch of fresh nutmeg
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
*I didn’t mention, but I added a very tiny pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter for "dotting"
pie dough for one 9-inch crust 
For the glaze:
2 tbsp jam with 1/4 tsp water, warmed in microwave

View the complete recipe