Saturday, January 31, 2015

When in Doubt, Dip

Still deciding what to serve at or bring to that Super Bowl party? You can’t go wrong with a great dip. Here are some of my favorites, and trust me, they've all been extensively tested. Just click on the title, and away you go. Enjoy!

Baked Crab and Artichoke Dip

Nothing says, “this party rocks” like a creamy, cheesy, baked dip, and when you’re talking about a hot crab and artichoke dip, people have been known to put an extra choice word or two before “rocks.”

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Not only is this baked spinach artichoke dip easy and delicious, but it's also a first in culinary history.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip

Arguing about what salad dressing is more appropriate for a baked Buffalo chicken dip recipe is kind of like debating about which shoes to wear with that Hawaiian shirt.

Clams Casino Dip

A big tray of hot clams casino would make a handsome addition to your Super Bowl spread, but that sounds hard, so make this dip instead.

Here are some additional Super Bowl resources
from my friends at Allrecipes. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bagna Cauda – A Real Bathing Beauty

I’m more of a shower guy, but Bagna Cauda is one “hot bath” I’ll take any time. While this qualifies as a warm dip, it has nothing in common with the typical versions that will grace snack tables across America this Sunday.

It doesn’t contain pounds of melted cheese, or come in a bread bowl, but what it does have going for it, is simple, rustic goodness, and proven crowd appeal. Besides, unlike those other "hot dips," this one actually stays hot.

If there were ever a recipe to tweak to your own tastes, it’s this one. You can adjust the amounts of garlic and anchovy, as well as the proportion of olive oil to butter. You can also control how long you cook the mixture before it’s presented.

I think about five minutes is perfect, but many people cook it much longer. Other than that, the hardest part of this recipe is deciding on what to drunk in this ancient dip. Anything goes, but as I mentioned in the video, some chunks of crusty bread are highly recommended. I hope you give this bagna cauda a try soon. Enjoy!

UPDATE: I'm hearing from my friends in Northern Italy that they use TWICE as much anchovy and garlic as I did. So, be advised. 
Ingredients for 1 1/4 cup Bagna Cauda
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
6-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
6-8 anchovy filets
2 tsp red wine vinegar
chili flakes to taste

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

2015 Super Bowl Prediction Using Chicken Wing Bones

Once again, it’s time I let you cash in on my magical method for picking the Super Bowl winner, using the ancient art of chicken wing bone reading. I can't tell you how I learned this, or why anyone would take it seriously, but I can tell you the bones are NEVER WRONG.

As you’ll see, the Seattle Seahawks will beat the New England Patriots. It's a guaranteed lock. Bet the farm, the house, and the farmhouse. Many people are saying that the Pats are going to lose because of bad karma, but that can’t be the reason. Have you ever seen a Bill Belichick press conference? If that were true, they'd never win a game.

Anyway, good luck, and I’ll apologize in advance for all those relatives bothering you for loans after you collect your winnings. Good luck, and as always, enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reclaiming Your Cast Iron

I get a lot of emails asking for a video showing how we clean and season our cast iron pans. One of these days, when I burn whatever I was supposed to be filming, I may do that demo, but in the meantime, check out this great article by Noel Christmas from Allrecipes. This is pretty much the exact system I use, and I've never had a problem with rust or food sticking. Enjoy!


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Quick Pickled Pepper Onion Relish – Not Just for Mini Philly Cheesesteaks Anymore

As promised, here is the pepper and onion relish you saw me accessorize my bite-sized cheesesteaks a few videos ago. The whole trick here is to find peppadew peppers, which have a very vibrant, sweet-hot-tangy flavor, and quickly and easily turn a pan of sautéed onions and jalapeños into a world-class condiment.

Pretty much any large grocery store that has one of those self-serve salad/olive bars will have these peppers. Just be sure to ladle in some of the flavorful pickling liquid, as that’s what really brings this all together. You'll also sometimes see them in jars on the shelf, as well as online.

You can certainly use any jarred, pickled pepper, but this works best with something that’s on the sweet and spicy side. No matter what pepper you use, you can always adjust with salt, sugar, and/or vinegar. Like I said in the clip, even if you don’t do the mini Philly cheesesteaks, I still hope you give this versatile relish a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 1 cup of relish:
2/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup diced jalapeño
1/2 cup diced Peppadew peppers, or other sweet-hot pickled pepper
1/4 to 1/3 cup of the reserved Peppadew liquid, or as needed

Thursday, January 22, 2015

“Loaded Baked Potato” Super Bowl Dip – [Insert Deflated Football Joke Here]

Any decent Super Bowl snack table has to have a few substantial dips, and this “loaded baked potato” dip, with its three pounds of bacon, is nothing if not substantial. 

It’s also shaped like a football, which of course has been proven to taste better to people drinking beer than dips in a bowl. Speaking of beer, I think will pair nicely with something cheap, domestic, and in a can. Save the Pliny for the Kobe sliders. 

Needless to say, you can doctor this dip any way you see fit. There are so many ways you can “Tom Brady” this football, and change it to your liking. Some roasted chilies would be great, or maybe even some of that pickled pepper-onion relish I’m about to show you.

If you do want a stiffer mixture, for sculpting a more realistically shaped football, you could use part cream cheese, but I liked the lighter texture, and we still got enough height to qualify as 3-D. So, if you’re looking for a fun and delicious Super Bowl dip recipe, I hope you give this a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 48 servings:
3 pounds bacon
3 pounds (6 cups) sour cream
1/2 pound grated extra-sharp cheddar
1 cup chopped green onions for dip, plus more chopped green parts for the “grass.”
pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
lots of potato chips

Jury Duty Update

I was asked to leave. Apparently, I'm not "jury box material." Oh well, I think we're all probably better off. Anyway, I'm working on a new Super Bowl dip recipe now, which should be up later tonight. And, yes, of course I'm going to predict the winner of the Big Game using chicken wing bones. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mini Philly Cheesesteaks – Winning the Super Bowl Snack Table

Miniaturized sandwiches don’t usually float my boat, or submarine, as they’re almost always not as good as the full-sized versions, but these mini Philly cheesesteaks really captured everything I love about the classic.

Thinly sliced rib eye is traditionally used, and it’s fried and chopped on the grill, before meeting cheese and bread. Since we’re going to “grill” these in the oven, we’ll use a nice, juicy skirt steak instead, which has a big beefy flavor, and great marbling.

It will brown up around the edges, yet stay moist and tender because of the fat and connective tissue. I also really enjoyed the double shot of the sliced provolone and provolone “cheez whiz,” which provided a great creamy, richness. The peppers and onions brought everything together, and long story short, I ate the whole tray.

This was great hot, warm, and cold, and that alone makes it a perfect choice for your Super Bowl snack spread. Also, stay tuned for the quick and easy pickled pepper and onion relish recipe I mentioned in the clip. I hope you give these mini Philly cheesesteaks a try soon. Enjoy!

Enough for about 48 mini Philly cheesesteaks:

12 ounce skirt steak, or flap meat, or rib eye, or NY Strip
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of pickled pepper and onion relish (stay tuned for video), OR 1/2 cup of sautéed onions and sweet peppers
*once mixed, be sure to taste and salt the final diced steak mixture!

For the “cheez whiz” sauce:
2 generous tablespoons flour
2 generous tablespoons butter
1 cup cold milk
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
salt to taste
2 thick slices provolone cheese (about 2 to 3 ounces), torn up

48 slices of baguette
sliced or grated provolone to top the cheesesteaks

Once assembled, bake at 400 for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is browned

Chef John Has Jury Duty!

The Jury by John Morgan
That’s right, instead of entertaining you with my free (and worth every penny) videos, I’ll be trying to convince a court in San Francisco that I’m the last person they want deciding anything.

By the way, why do busy cyber chefs have to serve, when there are so many people who’d jump at the chance? Shouldn’t we honor our wise seniors by letting them populate America’s jury boxes? They’re retired, and they sure love those judge shows.

Plus, I heard on the news we have lots of them, and were getting more all the time. Anyway, it’s something to consider. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

I hope you're all enjoying a nice, long holiday weekend, and in honor of Martin Luther King Day, I thought I'd post his famous "Dream" speech, on the rare chance some of you have not seen it. If you haven't, you must; and if you have, watch it again. It never fails to inspire. Enjoy!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Crispy Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings – Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Winner

Every year about this time, I get a bunch of emails asking which of our previously posted oven-fried chicken wing methods is the best. I never know how to respond, since I think they’re all pretty close, but now I finally have a definitive answer…this one!

By the way, the honey-sriracha glaze is quite delicious and incredibly simple, but merely an afterthought here. The real star of the show is the strange, but effective technique of coating the wings with a baking powder-laced spice rub before baking. Through the magic of chemical reactions, the surface of the chicken becomes bone-dry, and eventually crisps up to something very similar to what would come out of a deep fryer.

Instead of the soft, slippery skin associated with most oven baked wings, we get a crispy, blistered surface that really holds onto whatever glaze you decide to toss your wings with. The surprising thing is, once these are cooked you would never know baking powder was involved.

I’m not exactly sure who originally invented this; I heard about it via America's Test Kitchen, but that doesn’t really matter, since the only thing that really matters is who people 10 years from now think invented this. And if this is video somehow goes viral, that could be me. To that end, I really hope you give this unusual, and highly effective method, and honey-sriracha sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 1/2 pounds chicken wing sections
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp baking powder (aluminum free)
- Coat wings, and bake at 425 F., turning every 15-20 minutes, until they are browned and crispy. Total cooking time will be about 1 hour, but that depends on the size and temperature of your wings.

For the Honey Sriracha glaze:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup Sriracha
1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sesame oil
sesame seeds to garnish

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Next Up: Honey Sriracha Buffalo Wings

Why is there a video of our street being torn up on a tease post for Buffalo chicken wings? Because until this stops, which I assume isn't going to be until much later today, I can't finish the voice-over. The level of noise you hear in this clip is after going through very thick, double-pane windows. The good news is, the wings came out amazingly well, and the video should be up later tonight, or early tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Going Butternuts

I’m not sure when National Butternut Squash Day is, or if that’s even a thing, but if it is, I bet it’s right around this time of year. Things like sweet corn and vine-ripened tomatoes are now a distant memory (except in bad restaurants where they just serve that stuff all year anyway), but thankfully we have this delicious and nutritious winter alternative to tide us over.

My friend Carl Hanson has put together a great collection called,One Winter Veggie, 11 Deliciously Inventive Recipes,” which I invite you to check out. You’ll see a few old Food Wishes favorites, as well as some new offerings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pasta con le Sarde – Small Fish, Big Flavor, Long Shelf-Life

I’m no survivalist, but like any responsible chef I like to have a few cans of sardines stocked away, just in case. If times ever get tough, I could survive for hours, maybe days on them; but since things are going pretty well, I decided to dust off a can, and show you my version of Sicily’s famous, pasta con le sarde.

This will work well with many kinds of pasta, but I think bucatini is the best. It’s hollow, which sucks in the sauce, and flavors the noodles from the inside out. And, there’s a lot of flavor to suck. Speaking of which, be sure to get sardines that are packed in olive oil.

The flavor and texture is going to be better, plus you get sardine-infused olive oil that comes packed with the fish, which makes a great addition to our sauce.  By the way, if you can’t get fresh fennel, you can crush up a teaspoon of fennel seeds, and make a pretty decent version using that.

Like I said in the video, if you can get fresh sardines, they’re amazing in this. Fresh sardines are common around here, and they are such a delicious and under-appreciated fish. However, I honestly enjoy this version just as well, and seriously hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 appetizer sized portions:
1/4 cup extra virgin oil olive
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced fennel
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 anchovy filet
1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
small pinch saffron
1/4 cup white wine
2 cans (4-oz each) sardines packed in olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
pinch red chili flakes
salt to taste
1/2 pound bucatini pasta, or thick spaghetti
1/4 to 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, as needed
3-4 tablespoons roughly chopped fennel fronds, toss some in pasta at the end, and save some for the top
toasted breadcrumbs to garnish

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bluetons (Blue Cheese Croutons) – Trademark Pending

As promised, here are the blue cheese croutons you saw floating on top of the roasted apple and parsnip soup we posted yesterday. They were just perfect together, and as I ate my soup, dozens of other, “perfect togethers,” easily came to mind.

We only use three ingredients here, which is why this works so well. Try to resist the temptation to add salt, pepper, or other spices, as the blue cheese will provide all the punch you need. We’re going for pure blue cheese flavor in a buttery, crunchy package, and anything else would just get in the way.

Another tip here is to use bread that’s not too stale. I find that dry bread makes a crispy-hard crouton; verses fresher bread, which has more crispy-brittle texture. You can file that one under theories I can’t prove, but don’t need to.

The type of blue cheese really doesn’t matter to the technique, but the sharper, and more intense the flavor, the better. Like I always say, you're the boss, so use whatever you like. Speaking of which, Michele gets credit for the, "Louis Vuitton of your blue cheese crouton" line. I was going to go with "the Chef John of..." but hers was much better.

I guessed at some amounts below, but you don’t need those, since this is simply as much butter and cheese as you feel comfortable with. I hope you give these blue cheese croutons a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 8 portions Blue Cheese Croutons:
1/2 loaf fresh or day old bread (try to use something not already dry and hard)
5-6 tbsp hot melted unsalted butter
2-3 ounces strong blue cheese, placed in freezer until firm
*bake at 350 F. until browned and crisp. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Roasted Apple and Parsnip Soup – A Creamy Lesson in Seasoning

Besides being a delicious and comforting winter meal, this roasted apple and parsnip soup is great for honing your seasoning skills. With its mild, earthy, slightly sweet, gently aromatic flavor, it’s the perfect vehicle for tasting the effects of salt on food.

As I mentioned in the video, most “bad” soups are the result of under-seasoning. Nothing makes me sadder than reading an online recipe review, where someone is complaining that a soup recipe was too bland. Hey, Captain “Two Stars,” did ya' ever think about putting a little more salt in?

When you make this, salt the vegetables when you roast them, but then wait until the soup is done before adding any more. Once the soup is finished, and you’ve achieved your desired texture, then taste and add salt, a pinch at a time. As you do, take a minute in between samples, along with a sip of water, and you’ll really notice how small additions of salt amplify the flavors. Continue until it sings.

Speaking of seasoning, one reason I chose blue cheese croutons for the garnish was their sharp, salty finish, and it was a beautiful combination. I look forward to showing you how to make those in the next video. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime, I hope you give this delicious roasted apple and parsnip soup try soon.  Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 Portions:
2 lbs parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
2 green apples, peeled, cut in thick slices
Note: a diced yellow onion could be added to the roasted vegetables. I didn’t want this too sweet, so I tried without one, and it was amazing, but I'll try the next batch with that addition.
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 russet potato, peeled, cut in 8 pieces
6 cups chicken broth (or combo with water)
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of cayenne
- Garnish with croutons, crumbled blue cheese, and chives

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


When was the last time you were really excited about cauliflower in a recipe? Never? That is correct. We would have also accepted, “Are you kidding?” and, “What?” However, my friend Carl Hanson put together a great collection called, “Undercover Cauliflower…Dressed Up In 10 Delicious Disguises,” which may change all that.

Several of these ideas, including our own Cauliflower Pizza Crust, could generate actual excitement, or at the very least a raised eyebrow. If you think your heart can handle it, click here and all will be revealed. Enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Crispy Fried Boudin Balls – De-Casing A Cajun Classic

The first time I had Cajun-style boudin sausage, I was confused. I’d ordered something called “sausage,” but that’s not what I got. Instead of the firm, meaty tube I was used to, I was served a tough, rubbery casing filled with a soft, wet, paste-like meat and rice mixture.

It had pork and alligator in it, among other things, and had I not been in one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans, I’d have thought the chef had done something drastically wrong. It was incredibly delicious, but the texture, and the fact you had to squeeze it out of the casing to eat, took some time for me to process.

I’ve come to understand how and why it’s done that way, and it’s become one of my favorite foods. However, since the casing is nothing more than a delivery system, I much prefer to form the boudin into balls, and fry them as seen herein.

The textural contrast between the crispy outside and moist, savory inside is a wonder to behold. The taste is just as impressive. Intensely flavorful and satisfying, these boudin balls would win any Super Bowl food table on which they appeared. Hint, hint.

Just don’t leave out the liver! I know you “hate” it, but I don’t care, put it in anyway. It makes this wonder of American cuisine what it is. I really hope you give these boudin balls a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 48 Boudin Balls, depending on the size:
1 3/4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut in 1-inch cubes
6 ounces chicken livers, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1/2 cup diced poblano chili or green bell pepper
1/2 cup diced jalapenos (seeded first)
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons kosher salt (1 1/2 to 2 tbsp if using table salt)
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 or 5 cups fully-cooked white rice,
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh chopped green onion
Enough seasoned flour, beaten eggs, and plain breadcrumbs to bread the balls

- Fry at 350 F. for 3-4 minutes until browned, crisp, and hot inside.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hello, it’s Chef Dijon, from!

Instead of New Year’s resolutions like, “lose weight,” or “learn French,” I decided to knock a few items off the video recipe bucket list, and “making Dijon mustard” was first on the agenda. I’m not sure if I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution before, so this is a new and strange experience. It’s also great on hot dogs.

This recipe comes from my friend, and’s Food Preservation Expert, Sean Timberlake. Since I’m a newbie, I wanted to use a recipe from someone I could harass in person if need be. That won’t be necessary, as this came out pretty well for a first attempt.

By the way, Sean says you can start to taste the final flavor profile after three days, but I recommended a week in the video, just to play it safe. It really does take some time for the rawness to wear off, and that familiar mustard flavor to emerge.

In hindsight, I should have used a real blender to grind the soaked seeds. I opted for the hand-held for a better shot, but I don’t think I extracted as much flavor as I could have. I really enjoyed the texture, but I think I will try another batch in the blender, and go for something smoother, and even stronger.

As with all condiments, you can and should adjust this to your taste. This style of Dijon doesn’t contain any sweetener, but a little sugar or honey are common additions these days. You can also adjust the acidity, and I did add a little more than called for, since I tend to like things on the sharper side.

Speaking of acidity, I just canned mine using the hot mustard to seal the sterilized jars. This is not a product that will spoil easily, but for any kind of long-term storage, you’ll want to can in a hot water bath (see instructions here).

So, if you were looking for a totally doable, and completely edible New Year’s resolution, then this might be for you. Thank you to Mr. Timberlake for sharing his recipe, and I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted ever so slightly from this one by Sean Timberlake/
Ingredients for four (8-ounce) jars of Dijon:
1 1/2 cups white wine
2/3 cup white wine vinegar (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup)
1 cup water, plus more as needed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup dry mustard
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

I want to wish you all a happy and healthy New Year! The holiday break has been very nice, but I'm ready to get back to work tomorrow with a brand new video featuring one of my New Year's resolutions. Stay tuned!