Thursday, May 31, 2007

Scrambled Eggs – This is still a test…a soft, creamy, delicious test

Well, I’m still testing, and learning, and fumbling around with the new A/V equipment and software, but at least you can see an actual edible recipe during this experiment. I decided to do some very basic scrambled eggs.

First of all, my sister-in-law Nina requested an eggs demo, and secondly I wanted to see how much better quality the quicker stirring motions would come out verses the old camera. So, this is still officially a test video, so go easy on the comments… I’m getting a real microphone today, and still don’t have Photoshop on the new MacBook to do any decent screen shots with. Anyway, enough excuses, on to the recipe.

I’ve heard Chef Gordon Ramsey say that when he wants to test a young cook’s skills, he has them scramble a couple eggs. He wants to see if they are going to produce a plate of rubbery yellow clumps, or a smooth, creamy, custard-like delicacy. Today’s clip will hopefully show you how to produce the later. Speaking of Chef Ramsey, I’ve included his scrambled egg video recipe below mine. He goes into much more detail than I do (hey, I said this is just a test), so check that clip out also. It’s from a series he did a while back, and he’s quite different from the screaming maniac that you see on Hell’s Kitchen. There he is paid good money to curse and make people cry. On his “real” cooking shows from the BBC, he is a very good teacher and well worth watching.

A few key points before you watch; do not beat your eggs, do not salt the eggs until their cooked, and do not cook on high heat. If you’re going to add cheese, do it near the end when you add the butter. The rest of the tips you can catch while you view the clip. Oh, and serve on a warm plate!!

For larger groups you’ll need a larger pan of course, but the same technique will work; it will just take a bit longer. Also, make sure you have some heat-proof silicone spatulas around. As Alton Brown might say, “melted rubber is not good eats!” Enjoy.

2 large eggs
salt and pepper
2 tsp butter
fresh chives

Chef Gordon Ramsey’s Version

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Everyone remain calm…this is only a Test!

Well, I finally did it. I actually bought a “real” digital camera for the site. Yes, believe it or not, the over one hundred video recipe clips I’ve filmed so far, have been filmed using the cheap, bottom of the line, web cam pictured here. Now, nothing against Logitech, or their fine line of web cams, but they aren’t exactly made to serve as the cornerstone of your video recipe blog. Along with this new camera purchase, I’ve also bought a new MacBook and will be editing the clips with iMovie, a definite step up from the relatively primitive Windows Movie Maker I’ve been using. Why the change in platforms? It was really those Mac commercials; that skinny smartass dude was sooo much cooler than the old PC guy.

Seriously, I am very excited to have these new toys, and it’s going to take a few days to figure out how all this stuff works. I may even have to read a couple manuals! The clip I posted today is a first attempt at figuring out how the new camera and software work together, etc. So, my apologies for the basically useless clip today, but I have to do a little experimenting, and you know you are going to click on it out of curiosity anyway. I’ve included pictures of my new camera (please no emails telling me how much that model sucks), and I even bought a tripod (I was using a spice rack and blender as a tripod for the webcam). Enjoy?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Have a Great Memorial Day Weekend!

This holiday weekend has always stuck me as a bit odd. It is obviously a national day of remembrance for those that have given their lives in military service to this great country. Seems like such a somber excuse to enjoy all those delicious BBQ ribs and cold beer. Maybe we should really honor them by eating some of those freeze-dried, ready-to-eat meals and warm water…chipped beef on toast anyone? They say an army travels on its stomach, so I’d like to make a special request that you also remember all the brave cooks and chefs that have made the ultimate sacrifice for us while feeding the troops in times of war. By the way, I’ve turned off the comment feature for this post. I didn’t want a long thread of anti-war, pro-war, anti-pork, pro-pork comments. This blogs sole purpose is to entertain (even if that means playing pirated TV clips!).

Now, on a less serious note, most of you will be attending some type of outdoor BBQ (whether its juicy pork ribs, or spicy tofu kabobs and some gazpacho), so I picked today’s post because it’s one of my all-time favorite Simpsons clips. Let’s all eat, drink and be merry….and remember, if only for a few moments, the reason for this long weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mascarpone Brulee with Fresh Berries – How did he do that?

What is the ultimate experience for a foodie? Making something that your other foodie friends can’t figure out how you did! They won’t be able to figure out how you “browned” the mini Mascarpone cheesecakes, without it melting into a puddle on the shortcake. I’ll explain further during the clip. This simple summer dessert is inspired by three of my favorite desserts…Crème Brulee, Cheesecake, and Strawberry Shortcake. It’s also the perfect excuse to go out and finally get one of those cool culinary blow-torches!

Since the weather is warming up, two things come to mind; what am I going to make with all those sweet berries, and how can I avoid turning on my oven. This dessert is so fast and easy, and looks “cooked” since we are going to “Brulee,” or caramelize, some sugar on top of the Mascarpone. I’m not a big dessert person, but this is my idea of the perfect finish to that early summer dinner. If you can’t find fresh berries, those mixed frozen berries will fill in nicely. Enjoy!

Important Note: one tip I forgot to mention in the clip. It will help if you refrigerate the Mascarpone-topped shortbreads for 15-30 minutes before you burn the sugar on the top. If the cheese is too soft, it may begin to melt as you Brulee the sugar.

1 pint strawberries
1/2 pint blackberry (or any fresh berry)
1/3 cup sugar
juice of half orange
8 oz Mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) or regular cream cheese
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp sugar
few drops of vanilla
2 shortcakes or plain scones, halved
sugar to Brulee top

Need a Creme Brulee touch? Here is a link for you to check out:
Creme Brulee Torch from BonJour

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shrimp and Vegetable Couscous – Ancient and Easy

Couscous is a tiny, granular type of wheat pasta, which is as delicious, as it is simple to prepare. It’s origins go back thousands of years and while usually considered a Moroccan dish, this is also a staple in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. The amazing thing about couscous is how fast it “cooks,” and how versatile it is. This is one of those recipe clips that should give you lots of ideas regarding ways to vary it to create your own combinations. By the way, this is the “home” version, the real traditional method used to cook this dish uses a steamer called a “kiska,” sometimes called a “couscoussier” in French cuisine.

A few very important keys as you watch the clip: Make sure the “grains” of the couscous are coated with the olive oil, as this will keep it fluffy and separate. Also, as soon as you pour the hot stock over the couscous, wrap with foil IMMEDIATELY and TIGHTLY, and don’t touch it for 5 minutes! Most supermarket couscous will call for the basic 1 to 1 ratio of stock to dry couscous, but be sure to read the instructions.

2 Cups Couscous
2 1/3 Cups Cold Water
1 Pound Raw Shrimp (With Shells)
1/2 Cup Diced Tomato
2 Green Zuchinni
1 Eggplant
1/2 Bunch Tarragon
1/2 Bunch Dill
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
Lemon To Garnish

Monday, May 21, 2007

Simple Broccoli Soup with “Easy” Cheddar Croutons

Here you’ll see the classic, and very simple, technique for homemade vegetable soups. I’m using broccoli, but almost any vegetable will work. I am a disciple of the Gordon Ramsey School of vegetable soups. It’s basically the vegetable, some stock or water, just cooked until tender, pureed and seasoned simply. His “crazy” theory is that the star of the bowl should be the featured vegetable itself.

The cheddar croutons you’ll also see in the demo really make it special, as well as providing an excuse to use my culinary blow-torch!! The chewy, cheesy garnish is a perfect contrast to our minimalist soup approach.

I also hope that after watching this clip you seriously consider getting a good immersion blender, which are also sometimes called stick blenders. They are fairly cheap and an incredibly handy tool for making soup at home the simple pleasure it should be. It’s also fantastic for making salad dressings and sauces, as you’ll see in other clips. By the way, if you don’t have one of these stick blenders, don’t worry. Just carefully use your blender by blending a few small batches at a time to avoid the dreaded “flying scalding soup” situation. Enjoy.

2 heads broccoli
1 tbl butter
1 clove garlic
1 quart chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
sliced bread
cheddar cheese
cayenne pepper
salt to taste

Lost in Translation? We’ll take that chance!

Thanks to AltaVista’s amazing Bable Fish translation service, our blog pages can be translated to almost any other major language (sorry minor languages, talk to AltaVista). Simply click on the flag of the country you wish and “Voila!” (that’s French) every word on the page is in your language of choice. Now, you do have to know what the flag of your native country looks like. Also, since I don’t speak another language (except for cursing), I have no idea how accurate this translation is. I would hate for my subtle humor and brilliant observations to somehow be lost in translation. As you know, I spend a lot of time editing so that the grammar, punctuation and capitalization are really well wrote. I would hate for the translating software to not do this as good as I have did. Oh well, I’ll just have to that chance.

In the sidebar, on every page on the site, you will see the widget pictured below. Just click on a flag, and it will open the translated page in a new window!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Simpson’s Bovine University or PETA Propaganda… who do you trust?

I just received an email, with the photo you see here, in response to my Chicken and Biscuits video recipe clip. Apparently the vegetarian that sent it (I’m assuming they’re a vegetarian) found it in the PETA online newsletter. OK, very amusing. While I’m a devote Omnivore, and feel good about eating any and all living things, I do understand (and respect) the vegetarian point of view. That’s why I’m posting today’s clip, from The Simpsons, called “Bovine University.” It is a very scientific (I'm kidding), and well researched (I'm kidding), instructional video that clearly explains why it’s ok to eat meat (I'm kidding). I think that if the average vegetarian understood more about the food chain, they may change their views (I'm kidding). Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Savory Chocolate Crustini with Maldon Sea Salt Crystals

This short and simple clip may seem a bit strange. The thought of topping a warm, olive oil soaked Crustini with chocolate and sea salt does take an open mind to contemplate. The first time I came across this combo, I too was understandable skeptical, but one bite and I was convinced. It worked. Not only did it work, it rocked!

The blending of the fruity/peppery olive oil, bittersweet dark chocolate, the warm crispy-edged bread, and the tiny crunch of briny sea salt crystals is quite the epicurean experience.

Most good cooks know that a pinch of salt in a dessert recipe is a must to bring out the sweetness of whatever you’re making. So topping the chocolate with flakes of the Maldon sea salt is really not that crazy. I guess it’s the fact that it’s served on top of warm Crustini that makes it seem so unusual.

To me this is a savory recipe, not a dessert. I think these are perfect with a nice glass of red wine or port. It would make for a very unique passed Hors D’ouvre. This is not a sweet bite if you use the bittersweet chocolate I suggest. You could use semi-sweet, but then I think you just crossed the savory-sweet border and now definitely have a dessert item. Anyway, it’s the season of faith, so have some, and give this a try!

By the way, this was NOT inspired by a certain animated TV Chef from South Park, Colorado! If it was, I would have called it, “Chef’s Salty Chocolate Crustini.” I almost provided a link to the song, but discretion prevailed (and hey, you can always google it). Apologies to all of you that are not South Park fans and have no idea what I’m talking about.

Sliced baguette
bittersweet chocolate
olive oil
Maldon sea salt crystals, or other flaky type sea salt

The Maldon salt you see in the clip is a really interesting ingredient and I’ve included a link here, in case you want more info.
igourmet 8.8-oz. Maldon Sea Salt

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Spring Pea and Stellette Pasta Salad with Fresh Mint and Parsley – We’re reaching for the Stars

This simple spring pasta salad is a lesson in culinary restraint. There are so many things we could add to this, but we’re not going to do it. I want to celebrate my tender and sweet spring peas, and delicate star-shaped pasta (Stellette) in a simple salad, and I’m not going to clutter it up trying to clean out the vegetable bins. Everything about this salad is subtle. The tender peas barely get cooked by sitting in the hot pasta for a few minutes. The dressing is nothing more than some lemon and oil. I finish with some fresh mint and parsley, salt and pepper and I’m done. Just stop and back away from the salad. There are many magical food pairings, but one of my personal favorites is mint and fresh peas. There is just something about those two ingredients getting together that makes both shine above and beyond what they are capable of alone.

Sure, usually pasta salads are a great excuse to chop up and use all those forgotten veggies in the bottom of the fridge yearning to be free, but not this one. Save that one for the company picnic. Today’s recipe is you and your lover, sitting on a blanket somewhere fresh and green, enjoying this and several others of life’s simple pleasures.

8oz Stellette pasta
1/2 cup spring peas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1.2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopper fresh mint
1/4 cup chopper fresh Italian parsley
*don’t forget to salt the water you boil the pasta in!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

“Roasted” Tomato and Balsamic Vinaigrette – We really need to concentrate on this one!

I worked with a Chef, way back when, who made this amazingly delicious roasted tomato vinaigrette. He would slice a whole pan of Roma tomatoes lengthwise and slowly roast them in a very low oven until the sugars and acids in the fruit would condense and caramelize and concentrate into a delicious mass. This took about 5-6 hours. Then, these roasted tomatoes were cooled, pureed, and with the addition of some oil and vinegar, turned into a wonderfully complex vinaigrette. It was so good next to any grilled fish, meat, veggies, etc. The only thing I didn’t like was the extended cooking time.

Now, the whole reason for the long, slow roasting was to concentrate the flavors. So, I thought I could duplicate it by using a really good, double-concentrate tomato paste and nicely aged balsamic vinegar. It worked. Is it as good? Who knows? Yet another “subjective mater of taste” argument. Do I always use the shortcut method? No, I do (when I have time) love a nice pan of slow roasted, caramelized Roma tomatoes. They are great served whole on burgers, and as a side dish with many main dishes. In fact, now I have to demo the original method! Anyway, here is a 5 minute version that will pair wonderfully with so many things, and you’re only a few minutes away. I used this on my Pan Seared Perch with Fried Capers recipe, so if you haven’t seen that one, check it out. By the way, this is also very nice with I touch of fresh garlic, which I didn’t use this time…hey, I can’t use garlic in every recipe! Enjoy.

1 tbl tomato paste (double-concentrate)
1 tbl aged Balsamic vinegar
1 tbl rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 tbl olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pan Seared Perch with Fried Capers and Roasted Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette

The most common request I get for recipes are “easy fish recipes.” Well, here’s one that’s not only easy, but healthy and very tasty. I’m using Perch here, but almost any thin, flaky fish will work. I am a big fan of the “fresh-frozen” fish case at the market. The fish is frozen as soon as it’s caught on the boat, and stays that way until I decide to cook it. Many times what you are buying as “fresh” at the market is not so fresh. Sure, it’s never been frozen, but it traveled from the boat to the processor, to the market, and then maybe sat in the case for a couple days. So don’t confuse fresh with always better.

This video recipe clip is only the fish with the fried capers and brown butter. The sauce, Roasted Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette, and the cold salad, Stellette Pasta with Spring Peas and Lemon, will both be demonstrated on the site this week. Sorry for the tease, but today, it’s all about the Perch. The key pre-searing technique to pay special attention to is the small cuts or “scores” I make on the Perch’s skin. This keeps the fish from curling up and also allows the flavor of the butter and capers to really get into the filet. The small filets I used only took a couple minutes on each side, so you’ll have to adjust if you used another fish like sole, or tilapia, etc. Bye the way, even though I use a good amount of butter in the pan, very little actually makes it on to the plate. Enjoy!

boneless Perch filets, skin-on
2 tbl butter
2 tbl capers
salt and pepper to taste

View the complete recipe

Served with Roasted Tomato Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Stellette Pasta Salad with Spring Peas and Lemon. Recipes for both to follow this week, so stay tuned!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chicken Breasts with Herbs De Provence and Mushrooms

Well, I found another one! Yes, another very old clip from my original blog that hasn’t been posted here yet. This recipe is very similar in technique to the Chicken Marsala video recipe that was posted last month. Regarding that recipe, I received several emails from viewers who either couldn’t have, or didn’t want to, use the Marsala wine. This one is wine-free, and just as delicious. One quick note; I used a non-stick pan in the clip since I was using skinless chicken breasts. I always try to film these using the techniques and tools I think will be most successful for the home cook. If I had used a stainless steel skillet (as I would have in the restaurant setting), many people trying this at home, would have had problems with the skinless chicken sticking to the bottom of the pan. I won’t bore you with the details about why in this post, but for most of us a high-quality, non-stick pan would be the safest choice.

This simple dish combines a rich mushroom pan sauce, with moist chicken breasts scented with “Herbs De Provence.” Herbs De Provence is a mixture of dried herbs from the South of France, and usually includes Basil, Thyme, Savory, Rosemary, Tarragon, Lavender, Fennel, Marjoram and Chervil. You should be able to find it in the dried spice/herb section of any major grocery store. Be sure to look carefully before you buy it, it should be a nice fresh green color. If it’s brown and faded, it’s probably old and not flavorful. This herb mixture is a staple in my kitchen and should be found in any serious cook’s pantry. And yes, before you ask, of course you can make the same dish without the mushrooms. Enjoy.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups chicken stock/broth
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tbl herbs de Provence (so not optional)
2 cloves garlic
black pepper and salt to taste
3 tbl olive oil
3 tbl unsalted butter
fresh herbs to garnish (optional)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend!

As most visitors to this blog well know, I do not show myself during these cooking video clips. Why? Is it my “face for radio?” Is it my incredible shyness? Am I trying to be the complete antithesis of the FoodTV Chef? Is it part of the terms of my witness relocation program? I cannot confirm or deny any of these reasons, but I will say that this is my Mom’s number one complaint with the site. While she loves the site, and is very proud of all the hard work that has gone into it, she is tired of her friends constantly asking her, “What does your son look like? “Why can’t we see your son?” “What the hell is wrong with your son?” Well, you get the idea.

So, while all the other video bloggers are filming and posting touching Mother’s Day tributes, sadly I am forced to use someone else’s. Anyway, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms that enjoy this site, especially my Mother-in-law Peggy, and sister Valerie! And, from her anonymous son Chef John…Happy Mother’s Day to my mom Pauline! I love you, and miss you, and hope to see you soon. Enjoy the clip.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Chicken and Biscuits, Chicken Pot Pie, and Chicken and Dumplings – It’s a Chicken 3-way!

I get LOTS of requests. In fact, I did a post regarding all these requests, and how I try to organize and satisfy them. Recently I received requests for Chicken and Biscuits, Chicken Pot Pie, and Chicken and Dumplings. So, I thought I would kill three birds with one stone (now that’s a pun!), and do all three dishes as one delicious Chicken Biscuits/ Dumplings/ Pot Pie hybrid…or hybird if you prefer.

The base for this “Ménage à Trios au Poulet” is a pretty basic stewed chicken recipe. I used plain water to stew the chicken in the first step, but if you want a richer result, go ahead and use chicken broth. Also, as I mention in the recipe clip, you can pretty much use any vegetables you want. I went with the classic carrot, onion, and celery (mirepoix), plus I had a few mushrooms around which found their way into the pot.

Some of you may be shocked to see me use a store-bought buttermilk biscuit dough. Don’t be. I have no problem with the occasional convenience product, and the Pillsbury Grands are actually a pretty good product. Of course it's better with homemade biscuits, so if you have time go for it. If you want an easier version of this recipe, just make the chicken stew part, baked the biscuits separately and serve together. Now, I don't want to ignore our Chicken and Dumpling fans. You folks already know what to do; that's right, drop that dumpling batter, spoon, by sticky spoon, on to the hot chicken stew and go crazy.

1 large chicken (about 4-5 pounds)
2 quarts water or broth
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic
1 whole clove

3 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
3 ribs celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
6 mushrooms, quartered

2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbl herb de Provence
3 tbl fresh tarragon, chopped
2 tbl fresh rosemary, chopped

1 stick butter (4oz)
1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup milk or cream
8 buttermilk biscuits

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spanish Manchego Cheese and Membrillo Quesadillas - Making a Point with Spain's Most Perfect Pair

What’s the one thing everyone knows how to make (besides toast)? The ubiquitous quesadilla. Even the most culinarily-challenged among us can throw a tortilla in a pan, with some grated cheese, and 5 minutes later are enjoying a warm and satisfying snack. In today’s video recipe clip we will give the common quesadilla a delicious twist by using a classic Spanish fruit and cheese combination.

The cheese we are using is called “Manchego.” Manchego cheese, from the La Mancha region of Spain, is made from sheep's milk. It is aged for at least 3 months, but can be aged much longer for a firmer texture and stronger flavor. It is classified as a semi-firm cheese, which means it grates beautifully and melts nicely. The flavor is a bit tangy, slightly salty, and amazingly delicious paired with the Membrillo.

Membrillo is a very firm fruit paste made by cooking down a fruit called Quince with sugar and sometimes lemon. In the raw form, Quince is too hard and sour to eat. But, as it cooks the fruit’s light yellow flesh turns a sexy reddish ruby color. By the way, the seeds are poisonous, which has absolutely nothing to do with today’s recipe, but just another tidbit of culinary trivia you food geeks can use at a cocktail parties to annoy others.

As far as finding these “exotic” ingredients, I don’t think you are going to have much trouble. Any cheese shop will have several varieties of both Manchego and Membrillo. And, any of the upscale chain grocery stores will also stock these two wonderful products. If you can’t find them where you live, I will try to find some online resources for you and link them here, so stay tuned. Enjoy!

large flour tortilla
2-3 oz of shredded Manchego
2 to 3 tbl of diced Membrillo
1 tsp olive oil

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Fresh Cherry Tomato Relish – A Reduction Production

Photo Note: All the decent photos of this recipe were lost in a tragic beer-related editing mishap. The thumbnail you see to the left is the only survivor, and not the best quality. I considered “borrowing” a photo from some unsuspecting online source, but then realized that would not be ethical (and coincidentally didn’t see any I liked) and so I decided to use the one I had. OK, on to the recipe.

Here’s the idea; we take the liquid that’s produced by marinating fresh cherry tomatoes in salt, pepper and vinegar, and strain it into a pan. We then take this already delicious juice, and make it even more so by reducing it over heat thereby evaporating most of the water. This intensified liquid is poured back into the tomatoes and we have a great fresh tomato relish, or tomato vinaigrette (if you want to be all fancy) that we can top some grilled meat, chicken, or fish.

This is an extremely common culinary technique that Chefs have used since the beginning of time to improve the flavor of all kinds of things. A “Reduction” is one of those Chef secrets that most home cooks don’t bother with, or maybe don’t even know about. Most of you have made a basic tomato salad or relish and simply eaten it as is, or topped whatever. That’s fine, and it tasted great, I’m sure. But, by reducing the water content from sauces and dressings, you can produce even more impressive results.

By the way, I suggest ALWAYS using cherry tomatoes for this recipe. Large ripe tomatoes are just too hard to find, even in the summer (unless you have some in your garden of course), and most markets have an almost year-long supply of decent cherry tomatoes available. Look for “Sweet 100’s,” “Red Grape,” and “Sun Gold” varieties, which all are pretty consistently sweet.

handful of cherry tomatoes
clove of garlic
splash of olive oil
splash of red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Smoked Trout Spread with Watermelon Radish – Who needs talent when you have cool ingredients?

I like smoked salmon. I really do, but I’m bored with it. Been there, done that…although I decided not to get the t-shirt. So, while shopping last weekend I put down the smoked salmon and picked up a smoked trout filet. In almost any store that sells smoked salmon, you’ll also most likely see a package of smoked trout. This under-used product produces quite a nice smoked fish spread, and can be used in any way you’d use smoked salmon. In fact, many prefer the slightly sweeter and more subtle flavor.

I think you’ll also enjoy the interesting watermelon radish garnish I came up with. This radish is very common in the better produce markets in California, and I hope you are able to find some. Now, I’m not saying I’m the only chef that has thought of using black sesame seeds to make it look like slices of watermelon, but since I haven’t seen anyone else do this, I’m taking credit!

4 oz smoked trout
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1/2 lemon
1 cup cream cheese
black pepper and cayenne to taste
watermelon radish (or regular radishes)
black sesame seeds

Monday, May 7, 2007

Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chop with Fresh Mint Jelly

Growing up, one of my favorite “special occasion” meals was grilled lamb chops, and of course the always present, bright green, jar of mint jelly. What a great combination! Now, this just wasn’t my Mom’s secret combo, every restaurant we ever dined at, that served lamb chops would always serve the same green (artificially colored of course) jelly, just like at home. So, you can image my surprise and confusion, when arriving in San Francisco to start my culinary career, discovering that there was no green mint jelly.

I remember talking about a lamb special that was going on the menu of a Café I was working, and the Chef and a few of us cooks were throwing around ideas for a sauce. I said something like, “what about a classic green mint jelly?” Wow, they all looked at me like we were at a heavy metal music convention and I just suggested throwing on some Bee Gees. Apparently green jelly was something only housewives still served with lamb and we were way too culinarily advanced to consider such a clichéd pairing. How embarrassing! I learned that day that it’s not enough that certain foods taste good together, but you also have to consider the fashion of the times.

By the way, if you still use the green jelly right out of the jar – stand proud! There’s nothing wrong with you. But, in certain circles (like the entire state of California) you just can’t pull out a jar of mint jelly, so today’s clip is a fine solution to avoid any embarrassment with the food snobs among us (they're everywhere). You’ll see me do a new take on the classic mint jelly, and turn an old cliché into a great, and flavorful, and socially acceptable sauce. Also, I’m grilling lamb shoulder chops, which are a nice, and much cheaper, alternative to the more popular lamb loin chops.

2 lamb shoulder chops (8 oz each)
3 sprigs rosemary
4 cloves garlic
2 tbl pomegranate juice
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tbl white wine vinegar
1 tbl water
1/2 bunch fresh mint
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Greatest Hamburger Commercial Ever Made…and NO it’s not that creepy “where the beef?” lady!

This weekend’s filler clip is a priceless relic from the early eighties featuring Jason Alexander, pre-George Costanza, singing and dancing about McDonalds greatest invention ever…the McDLT. Of course, put the lettuce and tomato in a separate compartment than the hot burger! Genius! Finally, the fatal flaw of fast food burgers was solved. No more limp and soggy veggies as the burger sat waiting for you to order it. Well, so much for that, apparently we like our burgers all wrapped up in one hot wilted bundle since the McDTL lasted about as long as Jason Alexander’s post-Seinfeld sitcom. The 2 pounds of Styrofoam it took to package it didn’t help much either. Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Chicken Caesar Springrolls – The Ultimate Low-Carb Wrap

There are certain magical food products that are just too good to be true. Rice paper, or springroll skins, is one of them. While many of you have enjoyed these at various Asian restaurants, I bet most of you have never tried to use these at home. There’s no need for a long winded post today. What you see, is what you get. Simply dampen the rice paper and roll up some lettuce, and strips of meat and/or veggies.

These are very easy to make once you get the hang of how long to soak the paper. Since these translucent “skins” are so cheap, it’s ok to practice on a few to get the technique down. Once you do, you have an incredibly versatile wrapper for an infinite number of fillings. These are easily found in the Asian section of any large chain super market. As far as low-carb alternative to tortillas and flatbreads, these rice paper skins are like a millionth of an inch thick, and as I joked in the clip, I’m not even sure you can measure the carbs! Although, I’m sure someone will, and post a comment on the site.

If you are making a bunch of these, you can store them wrapped in damp paper towels. Just don’t stack too many on top of each other and you can keep them in the fridge for a few hours and they should be fine.

rice paper springroll skins
baby romaine leave
strips of cooked chicken breast
strips of red bell pepper

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Buttermilk Fried Chicken - Why didn’t the chicken cross the blog?

A loyal, and observant, reader informed me that my almost famous buttermilk fried chicken recipe had not made the move over to this new blog. I was shocked and appalled. But, I recovered quickly, and so here you go. As you’ll see, the secret is getting the spice mix into the marinade, and into the chicken, instead of just the flour.

We’ve made this Southern favorite a lot faster and easier by using boneless/skinless thighs instead of the traditional whole cut-up chicken. The thighs cook much faster and more evenly than the usual array of chicken parts. The buttermilk marinade and spice mix is fairly traditional, but hey, why mess with perfection!

I’m assuming you’ve seen the mashed potato recipe video, but just in case, I linked it here. You can't serve these beautiful thighs with some water-logged,lumpy mashers! Also, I've included a very basic chicken gravy recipe video below.

8-10 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
2 cups low fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
flour, for dredging
vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

Homemade Chicken Gravy

Help us bring down the powdered gravy mix industry! It’s just about as easy as making gravy from a mix anyway. You know that we usually use the de-glazed pan to make most of our sauces, but since we don't have that luxury, this will work for you. So, back away from that powdered gravy mix! This is a VERY basic recipe that you’ll want to jazz up with things like garlic, onions, peppers, etc. Make sure to use a really good chicken stock or broth… any sauce is only as good as the stock used!

1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Quart Chicken Stock Or Broth
1/3 Cup Cream
Salt And Pepper

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Crab, Artichoke and Potato Croquettes – Three of my favorites go Dutch

The croquette is originally a French concoction, but thanks to a Dutch baker named Kwekkeboom it was introduced to the Netherlands where it grew in popularity. He fell in love with the crisp French version, and began producing croquettes filled with beef and other meats and vegetables. In fact, Croquettes are so popular in the Netherlands that McDonalds sells a version in a bun: called the McKroket. No, I’m not Mc’Kidding.

This version is incredibly easy to make and you will love its crisp, crunchy outside and the soft, tasty inside. The secret to the crisp coating is the Panko Japanese breadcrumbs. You can get these at the supermarket, and they really make a big difference. If you can’t find them (well, quite frankly, you didn’t try hard enough), you can use regular plain breadcrumbs and still get a nice result.

There is no secret to the delectable filling inside; you take potato, crab and artichoke, smash it all together. Three ingredients that are certainly terrific alone really enjoy each others company in this satisfying recipe. Of course, you don’t have to keep your mix so simple; adding lemon, garlic, herbs, and/or other exotic spices wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

We served this under our Olive Oil Poached Tuna, but it makes a great main course all by itself. You can even do small half-dollar size and serve them as passed appetizers at that swanky holiday party.

1 large cooked russet potato
1 can artichoke bottoms (14 oz)
8 oz crab meat
1 egg
Salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste
olive oil
Panko or plain breadcrumbs
fresh lemon optional

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Olive Oil Poached Tombo Tuna – Do you have the courage to submerge?

Most people think of poaching as simmering something in a stock or wine, but today I’m going to show you a new way to poach; in an infused olive oil. There are countless combinations of times and temperatures for the oil and tuna. You can use my video as a general guide for the procedure, but it may take some experimenting to get “your” version perfect. As you’ll hear me say in the demo, this is more of an idea, than a recipe. After watching, I want you to try this with different combinations of oil flavorings and spice rubs, and of course, report back to the rest of the viewers.

The method is basic. Infuse some garlic and herbs in a nice olive oil, and then gently poach the spice-rubbed tuna in this delicious bath. I cooked mine sort of medium-rare-medium, so there was a bit of pink inside. But, if you like you tuna cooked all the way through, that’s OK, you’re not a bad person. As you watch this recipe don’t worry about all that oil, since it’s just used to cook the fish in, and very little actually makes it onto the plate.

Another trick with this method is to add the tuna to the hot oil, and then just turn it off and let it cool in the infused olive oil. You can then store the tuna and oil in the fridge and use it to crumble over a salad. You may never use canned tuna again! This is referred to as “tuna confit” by some. By the way, Tombo tuna is also known as Albacore, which is the type of tuna most commonly canned. It’s also easier to find, and cheaper, than Ahi, which is that dark red fleshed tuna you’ve seen me use before.

Also, I served this simple tuna preparation on some amazing Crab, Artichoke and Potato Croquettes, which I will also demo. If fact, the tuna was really just an excuse for making the Croquettes, and when you taste them you’ll know why. Finally, if you haven’t seen Citronette video recipe clip, check it out, as it made for the perfect light sauce for this dish,

2 tuna steaks cut in half (will give you four 3-4 oz pieces)
extra virgin olive oil (enough to cover, about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, smashed but whole
8 sprigs fresh aromatic herbs (anything you like)
black pepper
smoked paprika