Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Walnut Crusted Chicken Breast – It’s all About the Nut Glue

I almost never order a nut-crusted entrée in a restaurant, since they usually use a sugary glaze to hold them on, and/or feature a too sweet nut, like pecan, or macadamia. That’s not an issue here; since we’re going with buttery, subtly bitter walnuts, held on with a very savory “nut glue,” made with a garlic and mustard base.

I like this approach so much better, especially since it allows me to do a little bit of a sweet pan sauce, featuring honey, which is a classic pairing with both walnuts and mustard. Above and beyond the ingredients in your nut crust, the protection this layer of deliciousness provides can actually make a boneless, skinless chicken breast seem like it was just carved off a freshly roasted carcass. As long as you don’t overcook it, that is.

I caused a little stir on Twitter yesterday, when I said (in so many words) that you don’t need to cook chicken breast to 165 F. internal temperatures, as the FDA would like you too. I said, accurately I believe, that 150 F. is plenty hot enough, as long as it holds the temperature for at least five minutes. I think it’s so much better that way, but I’ll leave that up to you, and your probe thermometer. Regardless of how long you cook it, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Servings:
For the “nut glue:”
4-6 cloves finely crushed garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
For the rest:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each)
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
For the pan sauce:
all the pan drippings
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey

- Roast for 25 minutes at 375 F., or until an internal temp of 150 F.
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Friday, September 13, 2019

5-Minute Fisherman’s Stew – Give or Take

Of course this Fisherman’s Stew takes more than five minutes to make, and I’m actually referring to the approximate cooking time once the seafood hits the pan, but as they say, it’s only false advertising if someone else does it. Besides, one taste and I’m sure you’ll forgive any temporal exaggerations. If, that is, you use really great seafood.

A recipe this simple has many advantages. It’s fast, easy, and doesn’t require a ton of prep, but the downside is, there’s nowhere to hide sub-par ingredients. So, unless you’re going to splurge on the freshest, sweetest, most pristine seafood you can find, you may want to look for another recipe.

Above and beyond that very critical directive, you’ll also want to be sure your brothy base is aggressively seasoned before you toss your seafood in. Since we don’t season the fish and shellfish directly, we need to make sure we have enough salt, and whatever else you’re using, to go around. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and assuming there’s some crusty bread nearby, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 Portions:

For the brothy base:
1 cup crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes (if your tomatoes aren't nice and sweet, toss in a teaspoon of sugar)
2 cups fish stock, clam juice, or if time are tough, water
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste

For the rest of the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 very thinly sliced fennel bulb
salt to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped parsley
8 ounces firm white fish, like halibut or sea bass, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
8 peeled and deveined raw shrimp
12 mussels, scrubbed clean
12 clams, scrubbed clean
some crusty bread
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Pear Clafoutis – Almost as Good as it Looks

It sounds odd to say that a recipe’s biggest problem is that it looks too good, but that’s sort of the case with this pear clafoutis. Through no fault of its own, this crust-less, custard fruit tart looks a lot sweeter, and richer than it actually is. So, please be sure to adjust yours and your guest’s taste buds accordingly. Of course, you can make this sweeter, with more sugar, or richer, with some cream instead of all milk, but there’s something to be said for those rare recipes that I would describe as, “just sweet enough.”

Which reminds me, be sure to taste whatever fruit you’re using for sweetness, since you may want to adjust the sugar level based on that. Another key, especially if you’re using pears, or apples, is to make sure you slice them thin; otherwise they will not cook through by the time your custard is cooked.

As I mentioned you could cook the fruit first, but I’ll leave that up to you. If you use the traditional cherries, or something like tender juicy berries, this will actually cook faster than the time is given here, so I’d start checking for doneness after about 25 to 30 minutes. Speaking of different fruits, apparently if we don’t use cherries, this is referred to as a “flognarde,” which I’ll never get tired of saying. Hilarious names aside, I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
(The baking dish I used was 10-inch wide)
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, divided (one for pan , one for top)
3 generous cups thinly sliced sweet, ripe pears
1/2 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds
For the batter:
3 large eggs
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar depending on fruit’s sweetness
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

- Bake at 350 F. for about 45 minutes, or until fruit is soft, and custard is cooked.
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Friday, September 6, 2019

Bloody Mary Burrata – An Experiment in Liquefying Salads

I don’t think there’s actually a difference between a liquid salad, and a cold vegetable soup, but if there is, I’d like this Bloody Mary Burrata recipe to be considered the former. Especially since I already posted a gazpacho this summer. But regardless of what you call this strange hybrid, it really was delicious, fun to eat, and very refreshing.

I was recently gifted some homemade Bloody Mary mix by a couple of new friends, Clayton and Linda-Marie, which unfortunately I haven’t been able to enjoy yet. However, the combination of seeing that on the counter, along with a tub of burrata cheese in the fridge, led to this rather odd attempt. While the Bloody Mary part of the equation completely dominated the tomato and mozzarella salad element, I still found this thoroughly enjoyable to eat, which at the end of the day, is all that matters.

I’m not exactly sure how best to serve this, but a small portion as a starter would seem to make the most sense. Or, maybe a larger serving, paired with a crusty hunk of bread as a brunch item. Vodka sold separately. So, whether you’re going to take this idea and run with it, or you’re just going to do the first part, and make some real Bloody Marys, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions of Blood Mary Burrata:
2 pounds fresh vine-ripened tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup sliced hot or mild red peppers
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 cup water
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoons hot prepared horseradish, or to taste
2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

For Service:
1 cup Blood Mary Burrata base
2 ounces burrata cheese, or fresh mozzarella
sliced olives, celery, and cherry tomatoes to garnish
freshly grated horseradish root for the top
freshly ground black pepper and olive oil to finish, optional
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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Crispy Butcher’s Nuggets – Parts is Parts

While our homemade butcher’s nuggets won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts as the butcher shop, at least they won’t feature the same diversity of meat parts. Seriously, those folks will put anything into a sausage or meatball. All kidding aside, these crispy fried meatballs will have you wondering why non-chicken nuggets aren’t more popular.

I went with a fairly restrained combo of just beef and lamb, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a little more adventurous. Using pork is an obvious choice, and as I mentioned in the video, I think chicken livers would be amazing in this. Above and beyond the meat choices, you also have lots of artistic freedom when it comes to the shape, and what dipping sauce you pair them with.

At Fern Bar in Sebastopol, where I stole the idea, they’ll switch up the ingredients depending on what’s around, as well as change the sauce underneath, although it’s almost always something a little bit on the sweet side. Of course, our “secret sauce” (shhhhhh) goes with everything, but deciding how to tweak that to match your meats is half the fun. The rest of the fun is eating these butcher’s nuggets, and lots of them, which I hope you do very soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 18 to 20 Butcher’s Nuggets:
Note: the scoop I used to portion holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture.

For the nuggets:
3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced rosemary
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 cup milk
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground beef

For the breading (amounts as needed):
all-purpose flour
beaten eggs (I used 2 large eggs)
panko breadcrumbs

For the secret sauce:
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle

- Fry nuggets at 375 F. for about 3 minutes, then let rest 3 minutes before serving.
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Friday, August 23, 2019

Chef John is On Vacation and More

That's right! I'm on vacation for the rest of the week, and the beginning of the next, which usually means a lot of rest and relaxation, but not this time. That's because Michele and I are going to be working harder than ever on a major, top secret personal project. No, not a cookbook, or a TV show, or anything else that you'd probably guess, but major nonetheless. We can't share the details just yet, but I can say it's going to be an exciting Fall! In the meantime, enjoy a few reruns, and I'll be back with a new video before you can say, "Kismet."


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Baked Philly Cheesesteak Sliders – Go Giants!

The Philly Cheesesteak is a simple sandwich to make, as long as you’re making them in a restaurant. To make a proper one, you need a professional meat slicer, and a very hot flattop grill, which aren’t things most people have at home. 

That’s why I loved this baked slider method so much. It’s really close in taste and texture, plus, as I mentioned in the video, the small rolls make me feel like a big man.

I love the combo of provolone and cream cheese here, but if you’re a Cheese Wiz head, you can easily switch in some mild orange cheddar, and you’ll swear you’re at Pat’s. Of course, you could just skip the cream cheese, and actually use Cheese Whiz, but I really hope you don’t. 

Speaking of feeling like a giant, football season is upon us, and I can’t think of a better sandwich to make for your buddies coming over to watch the game. Especially if they’re from Philly, and don’t like the Giants, since you can share my theory with them. Regardless, I really do hope you give these baked Philly cheesesteak sliders a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 10 Baked Philly Cheesesteak Sliders:
10 mini sandwich rolls, or crusty not-sweet dinner rolls
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound top sirloin steak
salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne to taste
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup sliced, or chopped pickled peppers
1/2 cup soft cream cheese
1 1/2 cups provolone cheese for filling, plus at least 1 cup more for tops
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Note: Be sure to taste your filling for salt before stuffing rolls

- Bake at 425 F. for about 15 minutes.
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Friday, August 16, 2019

American Goulash – Just Like the Non-Hungarian Lunch Lady Used to Make

One of my all-time favorite comfort food meals growing up was the beef goulash served in my school cafeteria, which came with a slice of buttered white bread, and an ice-cold carton of milk. Little did I know that it wasn’t really goulash, but an Americanized version, invented, I’m guessing, to stretch a small amount of beef into enough food for a not so small family.

Real goulash is like a beef stew, and I’m pretty proud of this version we posted a while back, but while it’s a wonderful recipe in its own right, it just doesn’t hold the same place in my heart as this version. So, you can imagine my disappointment the first time I ordered beef goulash, and actually got beef goulash. Anyway, live and learn.

Not much can go wrong here, as long as you don’t under-cook, or horribly over-cook the macaroni. So, set your timer for 10 minutes, and start checking. We want the pasta very tender, but not falling apart. By the way, this goes by many names, including American Chop Suey, Chili Mac, Johnny Marzetti, and my personal favorite, Slumgullion. No matter what you call this, I really do hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic minced
2 generous teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
cayenne to taste
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parley, basil)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (24-ounce) jar prepared marinara sauce, rinsed with 1 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 rounded cups elbow macaroni
1 packed cup shredded white cheddar cheese
Freshly chopped Italian parsley
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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Cherry Tomato & Cheese Galette – Perfect for First Time Growers

When people grow cherry tomatoes for the first time, they often make the mistake of planting more than one or two bushes, which a few short months later usually means a ridiculously large harvest, as in more cherry tomatoes than you can possibly use. Well, this cherry tomato and cheese galette might help, a little.

While “galette” sounds a little fancy, they’re actually one of the easier type of pies to make, and above and beyond the simple technique, they are incredibly adaptable to whatever is in season. Whether that’s sweet fruit, or savory vegetables, there are very few things you can’t galette.

Just be sure to bake them long enough, since the bottom needs to brown, as well as you want whatever filling you’re using to dry out a bit. Your oven time will vary depending on the exact size and shape of your galette, so once you take it out, peak underneath to make sure it’s browned. Basically, you should bake this as long as you possibly can, without it burning, so be brave.

This will also work with larger, sliced tomatoes, but just be careful you let them drain on some towels first. Other than that, there’s not much else to worry about, except what to do with those other 5 pints of cherry tomatoes. Even if you have to go to the store to buy yours, I think this is well worth the trip, and I really do hope you give this cherry tomato galette a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 12-inch pizza pan sized galette:
For the dough:
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn meal
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed, frozen
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup ice water
For the filling:
8 ounces soft goat cheese or other fresh cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons sliced basil
For the rest:
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon
sea salt to sprinkle over the top once cooled, optional

- Bake at 425 F. for 30-35 minutes or until well browned. To be safe, place a foil-lined pan on rack under galette to catch any possible drips.
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Friday, August 9, 2019

Easy Chicken Enchiladas – Flatter Wasn’t Faster, But Still Fabulous

I’ve wanted to do a homemade red enchilada sauce video for a while now, and not just one. Eventually, I need to film a proper Mexican-style enchilada sauce, but first, may I present the faster, easier, but still very delicious, Tex-Mex version. Speaking of faster, I thought by stacking these, they’d be a little quicker to make, but they took the same time as rolled ones. That means they’re both fast and easy.

Since we are taking the shortcut of using dried chili powder, be sure to at least get a nice one. I used ground Ancho, which is very nice, but what isn’t nice is that old bottle of chili powder you’ve had in the pantry since the 90’s. If you live in some remote location, go on the Internet and order something fresh. Besides using it in this, your next pot of chili will also be grateful.

If you’re making the sauce ahead of time, it’s a good idea to heat it up first before assembling your enchiladas, so they are warm going in the oven. Otherwise, you’ll need to give them some extra time in the oven, so they get completely heated through. I love chicken enchiladas more than someone probably should, but this same preparation done with shredded, stewed beef, is not to be missed. Either way, I really do hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy! 


Ingredients for 2 1/2 cup Red Enchilada Sauce:
(enough for 4 to 6 Portions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, depending on how thick you like it
2 tablespoons ground chili powder, like ancho
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
cayenne to taste
small pinch cinnamon
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Fillings for each enchilada:
3 small corn tortillas
2/3 cup shredded cooked chicken
2/3 cup shredded pepper or regular Monterey Jack cheese, plus more as needed
chopped cilantro and green onion, as needed
sour cream, and guacamole to garnish
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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Confetti Rice Salad – Celebrating Your Improved Knife Skills

If you don’t do a lot of cooking, this confetti rice salad recipe might be the kind of thing you disregard, since it probably appears to require lots of slicing and dicing, which is true, but that’s a bad reason to not make it. That would be like not using real confetti for your celebration because it’s hard to clean up.

The truth of the matter is, with very little practice, all the veggies for this salad can probably be prepped in less than 15 minutes. In fact, this would be a great recipe to set your benchmark, and then see how you improve over time. Or, just use a food processor to chop everything. Either way, it’s worth the effort.

Obviously, you can adapt this recipe a thousand different ways, and I’m not just talking about which vegetables you toss in. If you want something creamier, you can add some mayo, or sour cream, or any combination of both. If you do, I’d cut back on the oil and vinegar a bit, but either way, make sure you hold back some of whatever you’re dressing this with.

Any dressing you add before it goes in the fridge will be full absorbed, and I think the texture is much nicer if we moisten the salad with more before service. That’s up to you also, but we don’t want our confetti rice as dry as the real stuff. Other than that, not much can go wrong, and I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 portions:
2 cups white long grain rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups boiling water
- Place in 9 x 12 baking dish, cover, and cook rice for 35 minutes, then let rest 10 minutes, before fluffing.
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup sliced blanched green beans
1/2 cup finely diced blanched carrots
2 large red bell pepper, finely diced
1 large orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup red onions
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
cayenne to taste
3/4 cup sherry and/or rice vinegar (add 1/2 cup before fridge, and 1/4 cup after)
3/4 cup olive oil (add 1/2 cup before fridge, and 1/4 cup after)
1/4 cup freshly chopped dill
1/4 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley
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Friday, August 2, 2019

Penang Pork Satay – Maybe Just Like the One at the “Penang Pork Satay”

I’m not exactly sure how much pork satay they eat in Penang, or if they flavor it like I do here, but I’m fairly confident that if I handed one of these skewers to your average pork-loving Malaysian, they would enjoy it. By the way, I did a search, and there’s actually a restaurant in Penang called, “Penang Pork Satay.” It doesn’t get great reviews, but if you’ve happened to try it, please let me know how this compares.

Like I said in the video, a satay marinade usually gets a splash of coconut milk, but I think it’s perfectly fine without. Besides adding a little sweetness, it also apparently helps tenderize the meat, but we have both those things covered here, with the sugar, ginger, and turmeric. Of course, by opening a can, you’ll force yourself to make curry with the rest, so either way is a win.

As far as the grilling time goes, we simply want to cook it through, and then stop, which is going to happen in a relatively short amount of time. That’s what I like a fairly large size chuck of pork, so we have enough time to get that beautifully brown, crusty exterior. If you don’t have, or can’t use a grill, you should definitely make this anyway. It would work just about the same under a broiler set on high, or roasted in a 500-degree oven. Regardless of how you cook it, or whether you tweak the ingredients, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the marinade:
2 to 3 inch piece of fresh turmeric root, peeled, sliced or 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2-inch piece ginger root, sliced
1 large or 2 small shallots
8 to 10 garlic cloves
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons ancho or other ground chili powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves and stems

- Mix and marinate for 4 to 18 hours, then grill until cooked through.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Baltimore Peach Cake – Infested with Beauty and Deliciousness

I’ve never been to Baltimore, so I can’t comment on the current state of affairs, but what I can tell you is that this easy to make, yeast-based “cake” really is amazing, and would have been even more so with a few minor tweaks. I was afraid of it coming out too dry, so I went with a very wet dough, and also didn’t bake it quite as long as I could have, but these are easy fixes, and my next one should be spot on.

As you saw, I did test with toothpick, as you should, but I made the mistake of sticking it between the peaches and not underneath one. If I had, I would’ve popped it back in for a few more minutes, and it would have been fine. Also, I’ve heard a thinner cake would have also helped the situation, which simply means using a larger baking dish. I went with a 9 x 12, so if you have the more standard 9 x 13, that should work out even better.

They say this recipe was brought to Baltimore by German immigrants, who apparently used to top it with caramelized onions, which on one hand seems like it would work, and yet on the other hand, doesn’t at all. Anyway, maybe one of our more adventurous viewers will give that a whirl, but regardless, I really do hope you give this unique Baltimore Peach Cake a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for one 9 x 13 pan:
3 or 4 sweet, ripe peaches
1/3 cup sugar
1 package dry active yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup melted butter, for the dough
1 large beaten egg
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 3/4 teaspoon fine salt)
about 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
3 tablespoons butter to grease baking dish, and to drizzle the top
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, or any sugar for the top

For the glaze:
1/3 cup peach or apricot preserves or jam, heated up with a splash of water to glaze the top
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