Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This is a great seasonal twist on the restaurant classic, and also a really great reason to use a blow torch! I recently had a request for a pumpkin flan. While I love to satisfy my viewers every culinary whim, sometimes I just can’t do it. The problem with a pumpkin flan is that the starchy, slightly grainy texture of the pumpkin puree would ruin the smooth, silky mouth-feel which is what makes a flan, a flan. You would basically be left with a crust-less pumpkin pie.
So, I decided to show this delicious Pumpkin Brulee whichs makes for a great winter dessert. The texture is actually closer to a pudding than a classic crème Brulee, and of course, the star of the dish is the crisp, “Brulee,” sugar top. This is great for your busy holiday schedule, since you can make them the day before and then finish torching the sugar before you serve. Crème Brulee blow torches are very easy to find in any kitchen store or online. You also should have a set of oven-proof ramekins. I use mine for many recipes, both hot and cold.
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Friday, October 26, 2007
By the way, regarding the title of the post; my sister Val and fiancé Rick first met when she was a new police officer and received a call that a large truck carrying cattle had the back gate come open and dozens of very large and annoyed cows were running all over the road and terrorizing the surrounding areas. Rick, who is also in law enforcement, happened to be in the same area, and got a call from the dispatcher to help the local cops (Val) round up the cattle. So, that’s how they first met, and the rest is history!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
As you know from the last few posts, I’m in the middle of a very intense and time-consuming try-out for a position with About.com. If I get it, it would allow me the freedom to continue producing a steady supply of free video recipes for your viewing pleasure. I’ve been up working late into the night, and generally feeling overwhelmed, as I try to get as much done as I can before leaving for my sister's wedding Wednesday. So, the following email came at just the perfect time. Thanks Ginny, you made my day, and I feel like I have gotten my second wind, and will actually somehow pull off finishing this project during my trip. By the way, the email was inspiring enough, but the “P.S” about Rachel Ray made me laugh out loud, and is what really pushed me out of the darkness and into the light. From one former starving, Top Ramen-eating student to another, thanks again!! Here is the email verbatim, followed by an old post I did about Ms. Ray,in case you've never heard of her.
Hi Chef John,
I discovered you on you tube and you are quite a comfort. Just want to say thanks for the great/ entertaining/ informative/delicious videos on your website. I love cooking but find myself short on cash occasionally. Some nights when all I’ve got around are some ramen noodles or a frozen T.V. dinner, (and I just can't bear to eat one more) I turn on the computer and watch a few of your videos. Somehow, it is possible for me to live vicariously through the screen. Basically I feel more satisfied just by watching your food rather than eating mine. Trust me, if I had the extra cash I would be sure to send some your way so I could get some Culinary Karma. Keep up the good work,
P.S. Who is Rachel Ray?
Mmm..mmmm…mmmm, Rachael Ray
I like Rachael Ray. There, I said it. It’s not her cooking, or her bubbly on-air personality, or her ubiquitous EVOO, or her 30-minutes meals (wow, she made a tuna melt in 30 minutes!). It’s simply the fact that every other “real” Chef in the country hates her. They talk about her like she is somehow ruining the entire culinary landscape like some kind of inedible weed. She doesn’t claim to be a Chef; she’s just a cute, perky home-cook that has fun in the kitchen, cooking simple, easy to make food. So, to these high and mighty, foam-making, agar agar-loving, sous vide-obsessed, micro-green sprinkling “real” Chefs, I say lighten up! Come on, she just made little meatloaves in cup cake tins! Yummmoo!
Now, I have to admit, I don’t watch her 30-minute meals show, or her talk show (is it still on?), but I do watch her “$40 a day” show. Why? For one reason, and one reason only… the sound/noise she makes after taking that first bite of every meal on the show. It goes a little something like this, “mmm…mmmm.” Whether you’re a fan of the show or not, I hope you enjoy this clip I found on Youtube. Mmmmmm, enjoy!
Friday, October 19, 2007
Photo credit, top left, © divenmisscopa
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
So, don't be alarmed if you see days go by without any updates. This blog is in no danger. It's healthy, the traffic is continuing to grow, and as soon as I get back, and finish my assignment for About.com, I will resume my regular schedule of prolific production.
I know, I've gladly spoiled you over the last 9 months with almost daily updates, and hundreds of free video recipes. So, I really blame myself for all the emails and comments I'm about to get about me being a lazy, selfish bastard who would rather attend his sister's wedding than stay in San Francisco and film recipes. I completely understand, and it was very tough to choose between my only sibling, and total strangers that I only know through anonymous online comments. I hope you understand my decision, and thank you in advance for your patience. ; -)
Speaking of large gourds the 34th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off was just held in
Remember when pumpkins were round and orange? How am I supposed to steal that thing and smash it on the neighbor that used to give us apples for Halloween's porch?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Now, as far as the story behind the Puttanesca sauce's origins, there are many stories, some more "colorful" than others. It is pretty much agreed upon that Naples was the birthplace, but that's about all that people don't argue about. What follows are the most common explanations of this delicious sauce; the ladies of the night made this pasta sauce because the irresistible aroma would help draw in customers. It was created as a quick and cheap meal the ladies could eat in between customers. It is hot, spicy, and fast, as are the woman for whom it's named.
Regardless of the true origin, it's a great sauce, and one that should be part of your regular pasta rotation, no matter what your own personal level of virtue happens to be. I've made this version much lower calorie by reducing the usual amount of olive oil and replaced it with stock and wine. Enjoy!
1 pound fresh cod
2 cups chicken or fish stock (or water)
1 pound pasta
1 cup white wine
2 tbl anchovy paste
2 tbl red pepper flakes
6 cloves garlic
2 tbl olive tapenade or chopped olives
1/4 cup capers
1 bunch Arugula (about 2-3 cups)
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan
Friday, October 12, 2007
Every homemade pancake recipe, and almost every store-bought mix, calls for eggs. In almost every case the eggs are simply mixed into the batter and the recipe relies on the baking powder to make the pancakes rise. This is usually fine, but if you use the little extra step of separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, you will create "soufflé" pancakes that will rise to a whole other level...literally. By "folding" in the stiff egg whites, you are introducing millions of tiny air bubbles that expand when the pancake is flipped. As you will see in the video, the site of the pancake rising in the pan is pure magic. Well, actually it's pure physics, but people like magic better than physics.
So, I'm not sure if this is a "folding" video with a bonus pancake recipe, or a pancake demo with a bonus cooking technique included. But, who cares, you're making soufflé pancakes! By the way, this trick will work for any pancake mix that calls for eggs. Enjoy!
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups milk
2 eggs, seperated
Monday, October 8, 2007
Just like omelets, you can use almost anything in these, but this classic combination of bacon, Swiss chard, and potatoes I used is highly recommended. Bye the way, I don't want you to think of this as a breakfast item. It's a wonderful meal anytime of the day or night. You'll hear me mention my Grandfather at the end of the video. He used to make frittatas quite often, but instead of finishing it under the broiler, he would cook it halfway, then put a plate on top of the pan, flip it over and slide it back in the pan to cook the other side. Sometimes it would stick, and only part would "flip," and other times the hot oil would drip on him as he performed this somewhat high-risk maneuver. It was during these moments that I learned all the really good Italian curse words I still use to this day. Enjoy!
6 strips bacon
1 clove garlic
1 bunch Swiss chard
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper to taste
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Okay, I’m sure this sounds like a fish tale, and it is. Well, at least the part about looking for a gift for a Sushi-loving friend. I ran across this very ironic gadget (raw fish on a timer for cooking things?) in the same shop I found the Mario Batali toy, WinkSF. I figured I would post this is case you actually do have to find a gift for a Sushi-loving friend (you know…the one that’s always forgetting things in the oven).
Friday, October 5, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
The complex layers of flavors that can be achieved by mixing and matching different fruits and vinegars is what makes this such a fun sauce to make and serve. You could use the exact same technique you’ll see in the video and make a new version every time you serve this for the rest of your life. By the way, if you have any smoked duck breast laying around, the combination of Black Currant preserves and aged Balsamic vinegar I used was perfect. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
First of all, if you are going to put a picture of the real chef on the package, then at least make the toy look the sort of the same. Somehow the metal, wind-up Mario lost about 80 pounds. Teresa, the owner of the store offered to wind him up and I filmed a little clip of Mario showing you how to flip a pancake (or whatever Italian for pancake is, I’m sure they have their own word for it).
I should add, before all you Mario fans attack me, I'm a big fan of his. He is a complete stud on Iron Chef, where he’s almost unbeatable.
I can see a whole line of these wind-up celebrity chef toys; An Anthony Bourdain version that smokes a cigarette and eats a kidney, a Bobby Flay version that, once wound, rubs Chipotle pepper on something, etc. If you have an idea for a wind-up version of your favorite chef, please post a comment.
One day, if this blog really takes off, maybe I'll even have my own wind-up action toy! And, you better believe, it's going to have a nice head of hair.
Monday, October 1, 2007
The most common blend is equal parts ground cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cloves, and pepper. Some versions also use ground ginger and other spices. In fact, as you'll see (and hear…warning: gratuitous sound effects ahead) in the video clip when I looked at my 5-spice bottle's ingredient list I got 7 spices! It had the usual five, but I also got ginger and licorice. I actually could have called it 8-spice, but I only counted the two peppers as one ingredient in the clip. Seven is my lucky number, so that's what I went with.
To me, roasted carrots are so far superior in flavor and texture to the usual boiled or steamed versions. The dry roasting intensifies the sugars and when combined with the Chinese 5, 7, or 8 spice mix, the results are quite delicious. This is the perfect holiday veggie side dish. If you watched the Cider-braised brisket video recipe, you saw these luscious carrots surrounding the bowl. Enjoy!
6-8 large carrots
2 tbl vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice
salt to taste