Monday, December 31, 2012

Brazilian Feijoada – Happy (and hopefully very lucky) New Year!!

We’ve posted about this before, but there’s a great, southern tradition of eating beans and greens on New Year’s Day to ensure good fortune in the coming year. 

Apparently, by eating “poor” the first day of the year, you align certain cosmic forces in your favor, which results in prosperity and good luck the rest of the year. Sounds crazy, right? I know, you’re way too sophisticated to believe in such lame supernatural shenanigans. Hey wait a minute…don’t you watch all those ghost hunter shows on cable TV? Busted! Hey, did you hear that noise?

Anyway, whether you believe in this kind of culinary clairvoyance or not, this Brazilian feijoada is one of the world’s great stews. The traditional good luck bean is the black-eyed pea, but here we’re celebrating the delicious, and very nutritious, black bean.

I tried to be clear in the video that this is just my version, and not some attempt at true feijoada authenticity, whatever that is. As long as you have black beans, and LOTS of smoked, salted, dried, and/or cured meats, you are well on your way to some kind of feijoada-like awesomeness.

In case you’re wondering, all I did for the greens was boil some kale in salted water until tender, and then sauté briefly in olive oil and garlic. It pairs perfectly with the white rice and rich stew, and while I can’t guarantee a year’s worth of wealth and good luck, I can promise you a delicious bowl of food. Happy New Year to all of you, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 pounds dry black beans, soaked overnight
2 quarts water, plus more as needed (add more whenever stew looks too dry)
1 bay leaf
2 smoked pork chops
12 oz linguica
8 oz Italian sausage
4 oz smoked bacon
3 oz dried beef
1 onion
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
salt and pepper to taste
For the crumbs:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp grated orange zest
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

Basic steps:
- Soak beans overnight, add to pot with bay leaf, beef jerky, and any bones
- Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until beans are cooked, but very firm
- Add onion mixture and meats, and simmer for another hour, or until beans are very soft
- Add a splash of water at any point during the cooking if stew looks too dry
- Test and add salt near the end, depending on saltiness of meat

View the complete recipe

Friday, December 28, 2012

Garlic & Blue Cheese Green Bean Almondine – I Just Couldn’t Do It

When I went to culinary school in the early Eighties, the chef instructors used “Green Beans Almondine” as a prime example for the kind of stodgy, clichéd, faux-fancy, vegetable side dishes that we were supposed to eradicate shortly after graduation. 

This was the dawn of a new age of American cookery, and something so old-fashioned as green beans almondine had no place along side our newfangled raspberry vinaigrettes and cajun fish.

There was only one problem with this beans and almonds tasted really good together, and made for a lovely side dish once in a while. Of course, fearing you’d be laughed out of the young, hot cooks club (hot from heat, not from hotness) you just didn’t dare make or serve such a dinosaur.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I’ve finally done a green beans almondine video, but added roasted garlic and blue cheese to it, just in case any of my old classmates are watching.  I actually did this at Thanksgiving, sans nuts, and it got rave reviews, so I had a feeling the addition of the slivered almonds would work just fine, and they did! I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4-6 portions:
1 pound green beans, blanched in boiling, salted water until almost tender
3 heads garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
1/3 cup sliced almonds browned in 1 tsp butter
2 oz Pt. Reyes blue cheese, or other blue cheese
400 degrees F. for 15 minutes

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Photo (c) Flickr user kevindooley
Michele and I wanted to wish all of you who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas. Hopefully you’re surrounded by the people you love, and/or a ton of great food. 

We have a new video posting on Thursday, but until then I’m going to try and take a few days off from staring at the omnipresent computer. Seasonal apologies for any lags in responding to comments or emails. Enjoy the rest of your holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Because Oyster Rockefeller Sounds Rich

There’s much debate over how many of America’s greatest recipes got their name, but that’s not an issue with Oyster Rockefeller. Thanks to the rich, money-colored butter sauce, this decadent creation’s name pretty much wrote itself.

Besides the obvious, superficial reasons, associating your new shellfish appetizer with the most affluent family of the day was a stroke of social media genius. Hey, just because Twitter wouldn’t be invented for another 107 years doesn’t mean people didn’t “retweet” things.

When Jules Alciatore invented the dish in 1899, he wasn’t trying to create a classic, new American shellfish appetizer; he was simply trying to replace snails in his diet. That’s right, what would become America’s greatest seafood appetizer (sorry, crab cakes) was just a delicious work-around for a serious shortage of French snails in New Orleans.

To say the customers of Antoine's were happy with this local substitution would be a huge understatement. They went crazy for it. The dish quickly gained national attention, with the most famous celebrities, politicians, and foreign dignitaries of the day stumbling over each to get a plate or three.

The original secret recipe really is a secret; so all versions, including mine, are just guesses. There is agreement among foodies who study such matters that spinach was not part of the formula, but the much spicier and more flavorful watercress was used.

Neither were mushrooms, bacon, ham, cheese, garlic, or any other later day add-ons. Not that those ingredient aren’t good baked on top of oysters, but that just wasn’t how Mr. Alciatore rolled. So if you are looking for a special occasion appetizer that tastes, looks, and makes you feel (and sound) rich, then I hope you give this oyster Rockefeller recipe a try. Enjoy!

Makes enough for about 3 dozen oysters Rockefeller:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) room temp
2 tbsp minced green onions, white and light green parts
2 tbsp diced celery
2 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
2 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 cup chopped watercress leaves
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
2 tbsp Pernod liquor
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 dozen oysters on the half shell

View the complete recipe

Bonus How to Open Oyster Video!

My friend Tamar, from Starving Off the Land, does a much better job of showing how to open oysters, but that’s only because she raises them and gets a lot more practice! That, and she’s better at it. Also, a special thanks to Sky Sabin Productions for their fine work on this.

For some additional shucking info, and tons of oyster recipe links, you can also check out this article on Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cumberland Sauce – It Only Sounds Stuffy

I’ve always wondered why Cumberland sauce wasn’t more popular around the holidays. It’s such a delicious and versatile condiment, and just as easy and fast to make as any cranberry sauce out there.  Maybe it’s the name?

Cumberland sauce sounds more like something that the Queen would be spooning over a Quail en Croute than it does Uncle Charlie over a slice of ham. However, despite this sassy sauce’s upper-crusty sounding name, it’s actually quite rustic.

My “Black Cumberland” version uses black currants instead of the traditional red, and also includes some very browned-blackened onions, but like all similar recipes, this begs for even further adaptation depending on the meat. Maybe a little mint for lamb, or a touch of cardamom for that smoked duck breast?

Notwithstanding any flavor variations, you will still need to decide whether to serve hot or not. I definitely prefer the thick, shiny cooled-down version as shown, but happily, there’s no wrong choice. I hope you give this extra special holiday sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients to make about 1 1/2 cups Cumberland Sauce:
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced onions
1 cup black or red currant jelly
zest from 2 oranges and 1 lemon
1/3 cup red wine
1/2 cup orange juice
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Granola – Only 8 Edible Gift Making Days Until Christmas!

When I was asked to take part in a special holiday YouTube playlist called, Christmas Morning Breakfast,” I started thinking about seasonal variation on things like eggs benedict, quiche, and French toast. But then I realized…you can’t wrap those things up and give them as an edible gift, so I decided to do this granola instead.

We’ve covered the edible gift topic before, and discussed the fine line between, “Wow, what a creative and thoughtful gift!” and “Wow, what a cheapskate!” Happily, when it comes to this delicious, crunchy treat, one taste and the lucky recipient will forget about any ulterior economic motivations.

Since this was a Christmas-themed recipe, I went with lots of festively colored dried fruit, but the beauty of the granola technique is that it pretty much works with anything. I love the looks of the green pumpkin seeds, but things like hazelnuts and pecans would also work wonderfully.

As I mentioned in the video, it’s really up to you to determine the cooking time. I tend to like mine just golden-brown, but many enjoy the deeper, nuttier flavor of a longer roasting. Since you are pulling and tossing every 10 minutes, this is pretty easy to monitor, but just be careful towards the end, as it can get bitter if you go too far.

Anyway, whether this is for a quick and easy holiday breakfast, with milk or over Greek yogurt; or you are going to package some up as a stocking stuffer for the foodies in your life, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 6 cups of Granola
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (pure coconut, not candied)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped candy covered chocolate pieces (like M&M’s)
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
1 cup mixed dried fruit (any combo of cranberries, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, etc.)
*Bake at 325 degrees F. for 30-40 minutes or until browned.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Twice Baked Potatoes - They Take Longer, But At Least They’re More Complicated

I don’t do a lot of things in the kitchen purely for esthetic reasons, but these twice baked potatoes are one of my more beautiful exceptions to that rule. You can get almost the exact same flavors by just adding stuff to a regular baked potato, but what you won’t get in that scenario is the impressive, over-stuffed height, and gorgeous, golden-browned crust seen here.

Is it worth it? Only you can answer that. For me, once in a while, for those extra fancy dinners, the answer is a resounding yes. Taste is, and always will be, the most important aspect of cooking, but when entertaining guests on special occasions, don’t forget that you’re putting on a show with the food. And when it comes to starchy side dishes, this is a great way to express that flair for the dramatic.

Like I said in the video, this is a demonstration of technique, and not necessarily a recipe I want you to follow verbatim. I will list what I used below, since I’m required to by food blogger common law, but if there was ever a recipe that you’d want to experiment with, this is the one.

By the way, since there's a certain amount of prep involved here, you can make these ahead of time, up to the point of the second baking, and then just finish when it gets closer to service. I hope you give this show stopping side dish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Twice Baked Potatoes:
4 large russet potatoes
3 tbsp butter
1 or 2 tbsp minced green onion
salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 egg yolk
Bake at 400 degrees F. for an hour to cook potatoes, and then 20-30 to brown after stuffing.

View the complete recipe

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Potato Pancakes – Delicious, But They Go Right to My Thighs

There are few foods I enjoy eating more than a plate of crispy-edged potato pancakes. Unfortunately, I've been trying to limit my carbs lately (I just can't let go of my dream to become a famous underwear model), so seeing all these amazing Latkes recipes that pop up during Hanukkah is really hard.

Anyway, just because I'm not partaking doesn't mean you have to deny yourself this exquisite pleasure. Below you'll see my version, which has always received rave reviews. These are garnished with smoked salmon, but my favorite way is to simply enjoy them topped with applesauce and sour cream. This is an older post, so use the link below the video for more info and the ingredients. A happy Hanukkah to all those celebrating, and as always, enjoy!

Click here for the original post and ingredient amounts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Hamlets – To Eat or Not to Eat Will Not Be a Question

I had been fantasizing for weeks about doing a whole, home-cured ham for the holidays. I always get lots of requests for this kind of thing, and was fully prepared to give it a go, but then a strange thing happened, I heard the word “Hamlet.” 

It was on TV, and completely unrelated to cured pork, but for whatever reason the word made me think of cute little, individually sized hams. That’s all it took, and off I went trying to figure out how to make this thing happen. I knew I wanted a process that wouldn’t require the pink curing salts used in commercially produced hams, not because they are unhealthy, they’re not, but because it would be hard for some of you to find.

I’ve read things in the past about using celery’s naturally occurring nitrates to accomplish the same thing, so that’s what I used, and as you’ll hear me say several times in the video, I was thrilled with the results! While not exactly like a classic city ham, this was very close. The firm, moist texture was great, the salt level was spot on, and since we used loin instead of leg, there’s even a little less fat.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to help much with questions about how to do this with bigger or different cuts, as this was my first foray into home-cured ham, so if you are going to attempt this, please go to a good butcher to get the exact same size “chops” that I used. If you do, and follow these simple steps, I think you will have a holiday meal “to die for.” Sorry, but you didn’t expect me to do this entire post without one forced reference to the play, did you? Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Hamlets:
4 thick-cut (10-12 oz) center cut, boneless pork loin “chops”
For the brine:
1/2 cup *kosher salt plus 1 tablespoon
(*if using fine table salt, you’d only need barely 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 tsp allspice
1/2 ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups boiling water to dissolve salt and sugar
3 celery stalks (about 2 cups chopped)
1/2 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
2 cups cold water to puree vegetables in blender, plus add enough cold water to make 2 quarts total volume of brine
Brine for 48 hours before roasting

For the glaze:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
pinch of cayenne
whole cloves as needed

Roast at 325 degrees F. until an internal temp of 145 degrees F. is reached.

View the complete recipe 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We Won! Food Wishes Takes Down Two Taste Awards

Thanks to you, we're happy to announce that Food Wishes has won two Taste Awards! We were a finalist in two categories, “Best Food Program: Web,” and “Best Home Chef in a Series,” and took home both prizes.

A sincere thank you to everyone who took the time to vote. I’ve said it before, but no food blogger anywhere enjoys such overwhelming support from their audience. You're the best!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rosemary Honey “Pull Apart” Dinner Rolls - Because You Love Them...Right?

Entertaining during the holidays usually means plenty of costly, complicated, and time-consuming recipes, so absolutely no one would blame you if you simply tossed a tube of store-bought dinner rolls into the oven to save a little time and effort.

Of course the problem with that, at least for loyal followers of this blog, is that some or all of your family members will have seen this video by then, and you may get a few looks. Not that they would never question your undying love and devotion to their happiness, but hey, why take a chance?

Assuming that you have an electric mixer, besides a few minutes of cutting and balling the dough, these really aren’t that much work to make. If you don’t, and would have to knead this by hand, then let your conscience be your guide. I think I speak for your entire family when I say, we know you’ll do the right thing.

Anyway, as far as holiday dinner rolls go, these are pretty lean. You can certainly up the melted butter amount, and toss in a egg or two, but since these are generally going to be eaten with fairly rich food, I prefer a lighter approach.

Please feel free to embellish with anything else you’d like to toss in. I’ll toss out garlic, herbs, cheese, seeds, and nuts just to start the brainstorming session. I hope you come up with something amazing, and give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 32-36 small dinner rolls:
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoon) dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F.)
1 cup milk
4 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 or 2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
about 3 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more if needed (NOTE: add about 2 1/2 cups of flour at the beginning of the mixing, and then add more in smaller increments until the dough just starts to pull away from the bowl. Remember, you can always add more, but can’t remove too much! Better a little too sticky than too stiff and dry.)
2 tbsp olive oil (to oil the dough)
egg wash (one egg beaten with a teaspoon of milk)
coarse sea salt

View the complete recipe

Next Up: Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Apparently Size Doesn’t Matter for Prime Rib "Method X"

This is what our 6-pounder looked like. Would a
20 pounder work as well? Spoiler Alert: Yes.
The most common question after we posted our now famous “Method X” for making perfect prime rib was “will this work with much bigger, full-size roasts?” Since I'd only used the method on smaller specimens, I was hesitant to green-light much larger pieces of beef without having tested it myself.

Well, thanks to Bill in Salt Lake City, we now have visual proof that this great technique does work on the big boys. Here’s what the fearless cook had to say:

“Your recipe does indeed work on larger bone-in prime rib roasts. I followed the recipe to the tee, on three 18 to 21 lb. roasts using three different ovens in three separate ski condo ovens, all with different thermostats. All came out perfectly. I had 29 very pleased snowmobilers!”

As everyone knows, there are few groups harder to please than a bunch of starving, probably drunk snowmobilers, so this must have really been amazing. Below you’ll see pictures of Bill’s fine work, along with the video showing this easy method. By the way, after seeing the size of Bill’s slices, if you ever get invited to one of his prime rib dinners, you should definitely go. Thanks for sharing, Bill!

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Prime rib is very expensive, so no matter what method you use (traditional or Method X), you should always have a probe-style thermometer inserted so that the internal temp can be monitored, to avoid any chance of over-cooking. Set the probe alarm (125 F. for medium-rare) just in case, and pull the roast from oven even if there's still time left on the timer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies – So Wrong, and Yet So Right

Admittedly, the witch joke at the beginning of the video may have been a little graphic, but that’s what I always think of when I hear the legend of how these cookies supposedly got their name. As the story goes, when these sweet treats first made their appearance, people that tasted them were so taken by the sheer awesomeness, that they went nuts and started running around shouting, “Whoopie!! Whoopie!!” 

Sure they did. This seems very exaggerated, but no matter how they got the “whoopie” part, at least the rest of the name is not accurate either. That’s right, not only is this cookie not a pie, this pie isn’t even a cookie…it’s really a little cake. Confused? Me too, and I just wrote that.

Anyway, despite the dubious name, and the other dubious name, at least the gingerbread part is accurate. Although, now that I think about it, it’s not really a ”bread”…okay, this has to stop. With holiday cookie exchanges in full swing, the only thing I can say with certainty is that these whatever-they-are’s were very delicious, fun to make, and I hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 9 to 12 finished Gingerbread Whoopie Pies (depending on the size!)
10 ounces (by weight) all-purpose flour (about 2 cups of sifted flour - see note below!)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 rounded teaspoons ground ginger (3 if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup boiling water
Bake at 350ºF or about 12 minutes
For the filling (makes extra!):
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp cream or milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
*you can adjust texture by adding more powdered sugar or milk

View the complete recipe

Flour portioning note: It is critical to weigh the flour for this recipe to work as seen in the video. 10 ounces by weight is about 2 cups by volume, but because flour can become quite compressed in the bag or canister, portioning by cup is not very accurate. If you are not going to weigh, only add about a cup and a half of flour, proceed as shown, and if the batter seems too thin after mixing, add more flour, little by little, until you have the thick batter seen in the video.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu-wich – An Old Classic Gets Open Faced

If you love chicken cordon bleu because it’s “fancy,” and you serve it primarily to impress dinner guests with your culinary skills, then this video is really not for you. However, if you love chicken cordon bleu because of its winning flavor combination of chicken, ham, and Gruyere cheese, then stick around.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the classic preparation, and will do my version one of these days, but for all that pounding, stuffing, rolling, pinning, breading, frying, and baking…I can deliver the same basic flavor and texture profile with significantly less time and effort.

By the way, while most consider this a French recipe, the word on the street is that this actually originated in Switzerland. That doesn’t really have any bearing on the recipe, but since I can’t remember ever giving the Swiss a hard time here, I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask, what’s up with those pocketknives? You really need one tool that can both kill a squirrel and puck nose hairs? Seems a little much.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I posted a sandwich video, and this, as the name would indicate, was certainly a blue ribbon winner. It made for a perfect lunch, but throw a poached egg on top, and you’ve got a stellar brunch item; or cut these up into quarters, and serve as finger food for the next big game. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
*Note: topping can be made days ahead and baked whenever.
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced smoked ham
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp milk
3 oz shredded gruyere cheese, divided (save a little for the top)
1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup diced cooked chicken
1/4 cup diced dill pickle
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp bread crumbs mixed with 1 tsp melted butter for the top

View the complete recipe

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Married for Love, Not Cookies

I get a lot of cookie requests this time of year, and while I’m not a fanatical cookie lover myself, I have posted videos for a fair number of them. In fact, I have a new and exciting Christmas cookie post coming later this week. In the meantime, I thought I’d repost this great recipe from three years ago, featuring my favorite, Michele’s famous Chili Chocolate Cookies.

As most of you know, Michele is my lovely and talented wife, and as I joke about in the original post, this would still be my favorite chocolate cookie, even if I weren’t legally bound by marriage to say so. I hope you enjoy this very chocolately blast from the past, and stay tuned for what I hope will have many of you yelling, “Whoopie!”