Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chocolate Cream Puff Swans – Oh, Mama!

Mother’s Day is coming up soon, and these chocolate ganache-filled cream puff swans would be a great way to say thanks to her for that whole giving you life thing. I think once she tastes them, she’ll agree that it was all worth it after all.

This is mostly a technique video, as these beautiful birds would work with any number of fillings. Pastry cream, lemon curd, mousse, and fresh fruit are all perfect with this pâte à choux delivery system. This classic French dough has a thousand uses, and must be mastered by any serious cook. 

By the way, these are much better chilled, so make them an hour or two ahead. The one I eat in the video wasn’t well chilled, and you can see was pretty soft. Once cold, the chocolate ganache becomes very truffle-like, the whipped cream firms up, and you get something much more toothsome. So whether you do these for Mother's Day or not, I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Pâte à Choux (Cream Puff Dough)
*enough for about 8-10 “swans”
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch salt
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
*Bake "bodies" at 425 F. for 20-25 minutes, necks for about 12 minutes

For the ganache (makes extra):
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
4 oz boiling heavy cream

For the whipped cream:
1 cup very cold heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sugar or to taste
*whip cream to soft peaks, add sugar, and whip to firm peaks

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spicy Coconut & Calamari Salad, Formerly Know As Failed Squid Ceviche

There’s nothing quite as satisfying in the kitchen as snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. I was playing around with some squid ceviche preparations, and while it did “cook” in the acidic marinade, I really didn’t enjoy the texture. I actually hated it. 

I’m not sure if it needed more time, or more acid, but it wasn’t good. Not wanting to toss it, I decided to fry it up, and maybe hide it in some pasta, or something. I went with “or something,” and this cold, coconut-spiked salad was the result. I haven’t been this happy about a failed recipe in a long time.

Not only did it make a fantastic, sort of Thai-like salad, I can see this being quite versatile as well. It was very tasty hot, and would be great over rice with some of the cooked-down marinade. It would also be amazing over a big bowl of crunchy greens. Just don’t skip the toasted coconut, as it really does make the dish. I hope you give this delicious accident a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Portions Spicy Coconut & Calamari Salad:
1 pound calamari, cleaned, cut into thin rings
1 small green Serrano pepper, minced
1 red Fresno pepper, sliced thin
2 tablespoons green onion
1 teaspoon palm sugar (aka coconut)
1 generous tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons Coconut milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil to cook calamari
- After calamari is marinated and cooked:
1 tsp Lime juice, or to taste
1 tbsp chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (unsweeted)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How to Make French Toast like Noah Greene

It’s been far too long since I shared a video from some of the new blood on YouTube. And by “new blood” I mean the young punks who will eventually put me out of work. Oh well, we had a good run. Anyway, Noah does a great job here, and I hope he keeps adding to his channel. By the way, I really like the music. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Joe’s Special – A True Original

After the ominous, but delicious, “Hangtown Fry,” Original Joe’s “Joe’s Special” is probably San Francisco’s most famous breakfast. Unless you’re counting the Buena Vista Café’s Irish coffee as breakfast, and now that I think about it, you probably should.

This mammoth plate of food features three eggs, a half-pound of meat, and more than enough spinach. Apparently a late-night patron requested his spinach omelet include a hamburger patty, and this is what happened. In respect to good ol’ made-up “Joe,” I’ve kept the original portions, so feel free to share with a friend or three.

Speaking of mammoth, this should make all you paleo-diet people who keep emailing me happy. Skip the toast and you’re in high-protein/low-carb heaven. As far as the method goes; even a caveman could do it. Just be sure to season generously at each stage, and taste at the end, and you’ll be enjoying a truly delicious, San Francisco original. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one huge portion:
NOTE: This version is mostly meat and spinach, but if you want something closer to a classic scramble, then cup the beef and spinach amounts in half. This is how most restaurants that copy the recipe do it!) 
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
8 oz lean ground chuck
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped, cooked spinach, squeezed very dry
3 large eggs
1 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish the top

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Award-Winning Pecan Pie...Allegedly

I wish I had a better story for how I developed this great pecan pie recipe, besides that I adapted it from one I saw in a Food & Wine article, which according to some guy I don’t remember, may have won a prize in the Texas State Fair. Like I said, the story needs some embellishing.

Nevertheless, this is my idea of the perfect pecan pie. It has the perfect ratio of crunchy nuts to the sweet, sticky goodness underneath. And thanks to the blind-baking, the crust is wonderfully crisp.

I used less sugar/corn syrup than most popular recipes, but I highly doubt you’ll notice, especially with that little, but not too little, scoop of ice cream on top. Some people swear by whipped cream, but I'll take the denser, colder option every time.

As I mentioned in the video, April is National Pecan Month, and what better way to celebrate than with America’s favorite pecan recipe? I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one pie:
Enough pie dough for a 9 1/2 inch glass pie dish (get recipe here)
*Pie shell should be pre-baked as shown.
2 cups pecan halves
1/2 cup butter (4 oz)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp bourbon
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp flour
3 large eggs
*Bake at 350 F. for about 45 minutes, or until browned and set.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Colcannon Colcraving

I’m too busy working on tomorrow’s video to make it, but I’m really craving a bowl of colcannon. This kale, leek, and potato mash is the perfect spring side dish. In addition to being great next to anything, you can heat up the leftovers with a splash of chicken broth, and turn it into an easy and memorable potato soup. Follow this link to get the ingredients, and read the original post. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

We just got back from a relaxing spring break with the family in beautiful Dunsmuir, California, and I wanted to say Happy Easter, and that I hope you had as nice a weekend as we did. 

We stayed in a fishing cabin right on the upper Sacramento river, and there's nothing as therapeutic as the sound of a rushing river beneath your bedroom window. I forget the name, but this is a waterfall we hiked to, which had a cave behind it, so you could actually stand under the water. It was a great escape. 

Anyway, time for me to catch up on email and comments, and for you to stay tuned for a new video! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Debone & Butterfly a Leg of Lamb for Fun and Profit

As promised, here’s the video for how to debone and butterfly your own leg of lamb. Since I am going to save you a few dollars, when the butcher asks you if you want it deboned, I'd appreciate it if you said something like, “I watch Food Wishes, so I’ve got it covered.” By the way, I was only half kidding about using a fat, dull knife. 

Bored cooks have been known to do this with butter knives, steak knives, pairing knives, or any other knife they think would win them an after shift beer (I've heard from a friend). The point is, cooks drink a lot, and you don’t need a razor-sharp blade to do this at home. So, if you’re doing a whole leg of lamb this Easter, I hope you give this simple technique a try. Have a great holiday, and as always, enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Pomegranate, Garlic & Herbs – Happy Easter Indeed

I’ve done more than a few lamb dishes dedicated to Easter, but inexplicably have never posted one for a whole leg of lamb. It’s such a classic Easter menu option, and when prepared using this method, makes for a very user-friendly hunk of meat. 

The key here is removing the bone, and replacing it an extremely flavorful wet rub. You have two options here; the easy way, or the fun way. You can go to a butcher and buy a ready-to-roast, boned and butterflied leg of lamb. They’re not cheap, but they’ll happily butterfly, trim, and tie it to your specifications. Or, you could watch the next video I’ll post on Friday, and see how easy it is to remove yourself.

Either way, once the bone is out, you’re free to season in any one of a thousand different ways. I highly recommend this particular combination, as the pomegranate molasses does magical things. If you can't find it near you, go online and get some, or follow this link and make your own using pomegranate juice. You’ll be so glad you did.

If you plan on doing a leg of lamb for Easter, I hope you give this fabulous recipe a try, and also check out the next video, so you can butcher the leg yourself. You’ll save a few bucks, and that means more chocolate bunnies. Stay tuned, and as always, enjoy!

Ingredients for 1 leg of lamb (about 8 portions)
1 leg of lamb (without the shank), boned, and butterflied
For the wet rub:
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
4 cloves coarsely minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp Aleppo pepper, or other red pepper flakes to taste
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried mint

*Marinate lamb overnight, and roast at 350F. for about 1 3/4 hours, or until the internal temperature of 135-140F. is reached, for medium-rare to medium.

Monday, April 14, 2014

“Quick Cured” Salmon – 3 Minutes? But I Want it Now!

Whenever I hear people criticizing millennials for being self-absorbed, having short attentions spans, and for expecting to get what they want, exactly when they want it, I think to myself, “Hey, that sounds like my generation!” Well, if that’s the case, then they’re (and we’re) going to love this quick-cured salmon technique.

While the process is incredibly simple, the potential variations are endless. Whenever I show a new technique, I usually keep things simple, as to not distract people, but whether you’re talking about the brine, or post-cure seasonings, this is something that begs for adaptation.

Smoked salt, chipotle, or smoked paprika could be used before or after the cure to make things a little loxier, and don’t even get me started on the herbs. After the 3-minute cure, you can sprinkle your slices with dill, tarragon, chervil, and/or thyme, before the refrigeration stage. Speaking of impatient millennials; this is technically ready to eat after the three minute dunk, but you’ll enjoy this much more if you thoroughly chill it first.

Besides the flavorings, you can also play around with how thin/thick you slice the salmon, as well as how long you brine it. For me, if I slice the fish about 1/4-inch thick, three minutes is just about the perfect cure time for my desired texture and saltiness. However, you should experiment. Longer curing times, or thinner slices will result in a firmer, saltier product.

Of course, all that experimenting is going to make you hungry, and you’ll still need to decide how you’re going to serve it. I’ve suggested three delicious directions herein, but I’m fully confident you’ll come up with some stellar spin-offs as well. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

FOOD SAFETY NOTE: Much like rare meat, oysters, and raw eggs, if you’re concerned about the safety of eating homemade, cured salmon, you should do some research, and decide for yourself if it’s worth the risk. This technique works great with frozen salmon, which apparently kills potential parasites, so that’s one option. Anecdotally, I can tell you I’ve done this, and similar procedures, countless dozens of times with fresh salmon ("sushi grade" from a reputable, local purveyor), and have lived to tell the tale. Good luck.

Brine for to cure about 1 pound of salmon:
2 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup Kosher salt – I used Diamond Crystal brand
1/3 cup sugar

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter Eggshell Cupcakes!

My lovely and talented friends at have come up with a way to combine two of my all-time favorite things; colored Easter eggs and cupcakes! Okay, so the first part of that wasn't true, but neither was the second part. However, if you're into this kind of seasonal foodcraft, and apparently many of you are, then I think this would make a brilliant addition to your Easter baskets. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich and a Great Excuse to Make One

This grilled brie and pear sandwich is dedicated to National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, which happens every April 12, thanks mostly to bored food bloggers, and cheese industry marketing cartels…I’m looking at you, Wisconsin. 

No matter its origins, this cheesy, savory/sweet, flavor bomb is probably my favorite non-traditional grilled cheese sandwich.

If you’re going to do this, don’t get scared and omit the pepper and thyme. This is required to tip the sweet/savory scale toward the later. Just add a tiny bit your first time, and work up from there. By the way, this grilled cheese was inspired by a cold pear and brie sandwich I had at a café many years ago, and I’ve been doing it hot ever since.

Butter is kind of a key here. It looks like a lot, but you want a seriously crispy crust to fully enjoy the soft, warm cheese and sweet pear. So, if you’re celebrating National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, like any normal person who spends any time on Twitter is, then I hope you consider giving this buttery beauty a try. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

City Chicken – Hey, Nice Legs!

This fascinating pork on a stick recipe is American cuisine in a nutshell. City cooks, who couldn’t get chicken, would take scraps from much-cheaper-at-the-time pork, and build something similar to what you see here; but that’s not what makes this delicious mock drumstick so American.

Why this represents the true spirit of American food, is that long after chicken became cheap and plentiful, people kept making and eating this anyway. Yes, in cities across the Rust Belt, people decided that the only thing better than one kind of fried chicken leg, was two kinds of fried chicken leg. It’s hard to argue.

As you’ll see in the video, I like to lay out my pork slices so that the larger slices will be in the middle of the skewer, and smaller pieces at the bottom, to maximize the drumstick effect.  Of course, I guess you could poke the pork in any old order, but there just won’t be as many oohs and ahs.

I used pork tenderloin, which is fantastic for this procedure, but traditionally pork shoulder trimmings are used. Regardless of what you make this with (just please don’t use chicken), I hope you give this American classic a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 City Chicken drumsticks:
1 whole trimmed pork tenderloin (not loin), sliced as shown
6 bamboo skewers (6-inch are best)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
dried thyme to taste
flour, beaten eggs, and panko breadcrumbs as needed
vegetable oil for frying

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Ol’ I-Want-to-Watch-Food-Porn-Instead-of-Going-to-the-Gym Workout

A viewer named Julie has invented a brilliant workout routine based on which familiar catchphrases she might hear during a video. I figured I'd share this with the rest of you since bikini season, or in my case Speedo season, is right around the corner. That’s right, the more you watch, the more you lose! Thanks, Julie!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Miso-Glazed Black Cod – Nobu for You

This is my take on the oft requested miso-glazed, black cod, made famous by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, although I will be improving on the master’s world-famous preparation. 

Okay, that was a joke, but my version does have a major difference; I only like to marinate the fish for a short time, as opposed to the more traditional one or two days.

I’ve had it both ways, and both are fantastic, but black cod is so sweet and succulent, that I prefer the less-marinated approach. The glaze is so flavorful that waiting two days to eat seems unnecessary. This will work on any similarly sized chunk of fish, but seriously, try to find some black cod. It’s also known as butterfish, and for very good reason. It’s like butter.

In addition to a taste and texture to die for, this is one of the easiest fish recipes of all time. A couple minutes to make the sauce, some brushing, a short wait, and you’re broiling. By the way, I don’t like to cook both sides. I like the heat to only penetrate from the top down. This makes for a lovely caramelized top, and a super juicy interior. Cooking times will vary, but simply broil the fish until the bones pull out with no effort, and the meat flakes. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Portions:
2 black cod filet (about 7 oz each)
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp white miso
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sake
1 tbsp brown sugar

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Great Flank Steak Roulade Experiment

I don’t remember exactly why, but for the longest time I’ve wanted to try stuffing and braising a beef flank steak, and this very brociale-like roulade was the result. And while the outside was an unsightly mess of frayed meat fiber, the overall dish was a delicious success.

Braising a flank steak seems counterintuitive since it’s almost always cooked briefly and served medium-rare, but so is top-sirloin, and I’ve used that cut for beef roulade before, and it worked fine. Flank steak is also one of the “beefiest” cuts on a cow, and has a decent amount of fat, so I felt pretty confident going in.

The only thing I hadn’t considered was the appearance, and that ended up being my only real complaint. Because flank steak has such large, pronounced meat fibers, after a few hours of simmering, my roulade had a bad case of split ends. As I mention in the video, we may try and wrap the meat with some type of protective layer, and by protective, I mean fatty.

Other than that, it was a fairly straightforward procedure. Feel free to stuff with anything you like (just not too much), and the same goes for the braising liquid. No matter what you decide to simmer this in, once you’re done, simply reduce it, and use it as a sauce. That means be careful with the salt. I generously salted the roulade, so I didn’t need to heavily season the braising liquid as well. Best to adjust that later.

Anyway, whether you use my specific ingredients or not, I hope you give this technique a try soon. All you need is a flank steak, a sharp, thin knife, and you’re ready to roll. Enjoy!

1 trimmed beef flank steak, butterflied, and pounded flat (please note: you must cut and roll the meat in the exact way shown, so the grain is going the right way for slicing!)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp black currants
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 ounce pancetta, slice into thin strips
2 tbsp finely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
For the braising liquid, I used:
3/4 cup white wine
3 cups tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
enough water to just cover