Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Getting Under the Skin for Great Big, Beautiful, Buttery Breasts!

Yes, this is the actually photo of my Thanksgiving turkey. It was probably the most perfect looking bird I've ever roasted, and I owe it all to a simple trick that I usually use on roast chicken. It's putting a flavored "compound" butter under the skin before cooking. Here is a link to the recipe that I just posted on my American Food site.

Below is the video recipe I did of the chicken demo, which uses a different butter mixture, but shows the same technique. By the way a compound butter is just a fancy culinary term for a flavored butter. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dear Santa, I've Been a Very Good Chef This Year. Can I Please Have a Large Block of Wood?

That's right, if you don’t have one yet, a large, thick (at least 4-inches) wooden butcher block cutting board should be on every cooks holiday gift list. One of the great pleasures in the kitchen is cutting on one of these sturdy boards. The feeling of working on these butcher blocks, compared to the thin plastic versions, is hard to describe. It's like the difference between sitting in a large leather recliner and a flimsy folding deck chair. By the way, the prices have really come down the last few years, and they are surprisingly affordable. I really like the combination of the butcher block cutting board as part of a kitchen cart. I actually included this in a list I just did on my American Food site entitled "The Top 10 "Must Haves" for Cooking Great American Food." If you follow that link you can also see some of the models I've suggested with brands and prices.

This video clip produced for shows an easy 3-step method for cleaning and caring for these great cutting surfaces. I just had a question posted about the safety of wood vs. plastic. Both have pros and cons, and I do use both, but very much prefer the wooden butcher block for general use. If cleaned and sanitized, you should have no problems. As you'll see, I use a simple vinegar solution to sanitize. Some prefer a diluted bleach solution instead. There are many online articles regarding these issues, and I invite you to investigate for yourself. No mater how you clean and sanitize them, the third step, sealing the board with mineral oil, is the real key to a long happy relationship with your butcher block. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Introducing Ron Jeremy's Omelet Diet - Warning: This May Be the Most Disturbing 10 Minutes in Culinary Video History!

Adult film star Ron Jeremy, inspired by Christopher Walken's chicken video recipe, decided he would film his "famous" vegetable omelet. What follows is ten minutes of horrific cooking technique, lame jokes, and Ron's mullet in all it's dyed glory. The reason I called today's post the "Ron Jeremy's Omelet Diet" is for the simple fact that this video recipe is guaranteed to make you lose your appetite for several days after each viewing. With all the food you ate over the Thanksgiving holiday, this is the perfect way to trim off a few pounds before the Christmas feasts. Every time you feel like eating something you shouldn't, simply watch this clip and your hunger will quickly dissipate.

By the way, you can now finally admit you've watched a Ron Jeremy video! I was going to warn everyone to not let the kids watch this clip, but he butchers the attempts at dirty jokes so badly they are indecipherable. I'll apologize in advance for the nightmares this video will cause to viewers of all ages. Someone will have to explain to me how this man became the most popular adult film star in the world. Actually, I changed my mind; please don't explain this to me. Lastly, I should warn all of you right now, any comments regarding Ron's resemblance to me, only with longer hair, will be deleted immediately!

Due to a bug with the Safari browser on the Macs I had to remove this embeded video clip. It was playing automatically without the play button being pressed which rendered my warning useless. If you want to see the clip you can click here. Sorry, Ron.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Get a Grip and Have a Great Thanksgiving: How to Properly Hold a Knife

With all the chopping, slicing and dicing that's done around the Thanksgiving holiday, it's no wonder that there are more culinary-related knife wounds reported this time of year than any other. It's a well-known fact that Emergency rooms all over the country stock up on extra supplies to stitch-up these once-a-year chefs (actually, I just made that fact up, but I bet it's true).

The two causes for 90% of cuts in the kitchen are dull knives and wrong grips. I can't do anything about that dull knife you've been using since I had hair, but I can help with the grip.
When you take a tennis or golf lesson the first thing that's checked is your grip. This video demo I did for shows you the proper way professional chefs grip a knife. This is so important to safe, fast, and accurate cutting. Enjoy

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Squash the Thanksgiving Dessert Competition with this Delicious Brulee!

Yes, yet another gourd-related crème brulee. I did a version of this using canned pumpkin a while back, and while I love the pumpkin version, this is even better! So, since there are going to be all those pumpkin pies around this holiday, why not go with another gourd, and try some butternut squash crème brulee. Why another brulee video recipe so similar to the pumpkin one? Because I was offered money to film it! I told you I've sold out to my corporate masters.

This video recipe, produced for, uses a roasted butternut squash as the base for this "healthy" dessert. Sure it's loaded with cream, sugar and egg yolks, but its squash… come on, it has to be good for you. Besides, since you'll only need half the squash for this recipe, you can also make a nice soup. Stay tuned for a nice butternut squash soup video sometime soon. Enjoy!

1 cup butternut squash puree

3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

pinch of salt

Monday, November 19, 2007 American Food is Live!

Just a quick post to let you all know that the website project I've been working on with About went live on Friday. Thanks for all your patience, support, and kind words of encouragement. If you have been a visitor to this blog for a while you will see some of the content from this site repeated over there, in recipe form, so don't be surprised if you get that 'deja vu' feeling as you look around the site.

Here is the address:

It's still very new, obviously, so there's not a ton of content and recipes, but hopefully that will change as I add to it each week. If you have an
y American regional recipes you would like to share please email them to me. By the way, a Guide's success at About is partly based on the number of page views, so please check out the site, as well as spam all your friends and relatives and tell them to explore it as well! I will also send out an email to everyone in my address book, so I apologize if that info is redundant. Thanks, and I hope you enjoy!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Your Salad Forecast: Cool and Crisp with a 100% Chance of Blue Cheese "Snow"

This is one of my favorite restaurant tricks ever. I invented this technique in 1985, after seeing another chef do it at a small café in San Francisco. It is an amazing way to distribute blue cheese over a salad without messing up your fingers, and without having the cheese end up alone at the bottom the of bowl when the lettuce is gone.

This simple trick guarantees a perfect blue cheese portion with every forkful. As you'll see in the video recipe, it does require a plastic rotary grater, which is very inexpensive and easy to find. These graters are great if you ever need to grate large amounts of Parmesan as well, so I think they are a nice thing to have in the kitchen, even if you don't plan on using it to stun your foodie friends with the best blue cheese trick ever! Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's Almost That Time! So, Make Your Own Crust and Don't Screw-up the Mashed Potatoes

Those daunting holiday dinners are just around the corner, and while I'm unfortunately still in "can't film any new clips" mode for a few more days, I thought I would post some reruns that may be of use this time of the year. No, I'm not doing a turkey demo. That's the easiest part of the meal. The Food Network's army of talking heads will be doing every recipe and technique ever invented, ad nauseum, for the next few weeks. Not to mention the 8 million how-to-cook-the-perfect-turkey web pages.

So, I'm showing you some of the "harder" things. How to make a simple piecrust, my technique for perfect mashed potatoes, and a few vegetable sides to serve instead of the canned green beans with the canned fried onions. Anyway, here are some links to check out before it's too late:

Home-made Pie Crust: It's NOT that hard.
Mashed Potatoes: Please don't serve gluey potatoes
Roast Sweet Potatoes: So easy, so delicioius
Herb Potato Wedges: Tired of mashed? Check out this old, but delicious clip
Broccoli Gratin: Don't even try to count the calories
Spaghetti Squash: Healthy can be tasty!
Brussel Sprouts: Stop making that face
Stuffed Squash: An excuse to eat more goat cheese
5-Spice Carrots: 5 times better than 1-spice carrots

Enjoy! Lastly, I'm sorry if I don't reply to your comments instantly. It just means I've passed out for a few minutes and will get back to you as soon I come to.
photocredit (c) purpleslog

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WANTED: American Regional Recipes - Don't do it for me, do it for your country!

I'm just about finished with my American Foods site for and I need some help. I'm now trying to gather as many regional American recipes as I can. I have lots of the old standard regional recipes, such as a Cobb salad for California cuisine region, and Johnnycakes for New England, so what I am hoping for from you, my loyal readers/viewers, are lots of interesting local recipes and/or specialties from your hometowns. I know just about every community around the country has one or two unique "local favorites" that would be interesting to share with the rest of the country (and world). The classic example of this would be something like Buffalo Chicken Wings, which started out as a very localized, Western New York oddity. By the way, to all my international visitors, unfortunately I can only use recipes and dishes developed in America.

So, if you have a recipe you can send me please click this link and email me the text. The preferred format would be a MS Word document attachment, but it's fine if you just put it in the email body text. If there is a story that goes along with the recipe, that would be even better (even if you have to make one up). Please let me know where this recipe is from (what part of the country) and include your full name if you want the recipe credited to you. I can only accept "your" recipes, I can’t use anything you just copy and paste from a website. Thanks in advance for anything you would be able to send me, and anything that makes the site will feature you as the recipes creator and you can brag to all you friends that you are now a published culinary author!

photo credit: (c) Flickr user Rick

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Escargot Bourguignon – My Slowest Video Recipe Ever

This video, produced for, features snails cooked in the traditional style of the Burgundy region of France. Do I like snails? No. Do I like Escargot Bourguignon? Yes, because the escargot are drowning in copious amounts of garlic and parsley butter. Do I think that most of the viewers will make this recipe? No. Do I think that some viewers that always wanted to try them will now go for it? Maybe. Do I think this is the most question marks every to appear in the first paragraph of one of my posts? Yes. Should I stop writing like this? Yes.

This is the classic French method for preparing the slow-moving (which makes them easy to run down) delicacy. While it is true these are basically common garden snails, the ones you buy canned, imported from France, are especially plump and flavorful. I believe they are fattened on a special diet of foie gras and truffles before meeting their fate, but I’m not positive about that part. Anyway, this holiday season, when you’re in that fancy gourmet shop buying that gift basket for the person that you can never figure out what to give, pick up a can of snails, some tiny forks, and a very large bottle of wine …and enjoy!

1 stick of softened butter
1 tbsp minced shallots
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
black pepper to taste
salt to taste, I used about 1/2 tsp
*this is enough for about 32 snails

Monday, November 5, 2007

I Am American Food! …and Other Blog Updates

I did it! I'm just not sure what "it" is yet. I graduated from About's guide program and will now be the guide for the new "American Food" site. I still have to complete a certain amount of content before it goes live in a week or so. Once it does go live, I will have a better idea of how the balance between the two sites will work. As those of you that visit's sites, all the guides have regularly updated blogs. So, eventually you will be able to get your daily-recommended amount of Chef John from two sources.

Good News, Bad News

The bad news first; for the next week or so, I will pretty much will be working exclusively on finishing the American Foods site. I will also be filming some video clips for About, but for the near future no "Food Wishes only" clips. I will, of course, post the About clips I've already done for them as soon as they go live (like the Tuna al Tonno). I will be posting an Escargot video that just aired. Mmm…. snails, I mean, mmm… garlic butter!

The goods news is hopefully the income from the About site, along with the clips I produce for them, will be enough to keep this old chef out of a real job in a professional kitchen (60 hour work week = no blogging), and will allow me to continue to grow and expand this site, and it's foodie resources. Once the About site is build, it's just a matter of maintaining it, and I will be able to get back to a normal schedule, except now I will be able to pay my bills with money, instead of ravioli!

Culinary School Update

Yes, I still plan on putting all the large corporate culinary school out of business. Unless, of course they make me a huge offer to buy my site. I am working with someone right now in determining whether the course should be done as online classes, or as a collection of DVDs. As far as a time frame, I don't expect to have anything available until April 08. This also is related to the newly found income sources, as I will be able to afford to take off some time and just work on the culinary course, as I have done in acquiring the About gig(s).

And the Winner is….Me!

For the second consecutive month I have won the coveted "Member of the Month" competition! I didn't announce anything the first time I won (I wanted to make sure it wasn't a fluke), but now that I've won two months in a row, I'm going to start rubbing the other competitors faces in it! If you want to check out the site,click this link. It's run by Niall Harbison, one of Ireland's best chefs, and they award points for uploading video clips and photos, etc. Quite frankly, I have crushed the field thus far.


I would like to thank Google, and their army of robots (that will eventually take over the world, and enslave us all) for raising my page rank to a 5 out of 10!! No, I don't really know what that means either, but hey, 5 is higher than 4, right? If any web-marketer techno geeks care to explain the ranking to us normal folk, please do.

Flagcake photo credit: Flickr user Owwee