Saturday, August 30, 2008

Slow Food Nation '08: Friday Night's Sneak Preview

Here's a little slide show of photos I took at last nights SFN'08's Taste Pavilion sneak preview. A select few VIP's (and myself) were invited to see an impressive array of organic, sustainable, and more importantly, delicious food products that are the edible centerpiece of this weekends event. Sorry for the less than detailed narration, but I wanted to get something up quickly, and only had a few minutes free time.

Michele and I will be officially eating our way through the Taste Pavilion on Sunday evening, so stay tuned for much more. Today I'm off to the San Francisco's civic center for three different lectures from the Food for Thought program. Speakers include Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, and Slow Food International’s founder Carlo Petrini.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Slow Food Nation '08: San Francisco Attacked by 50,000 Foodies - City Under Delicious Siege

It starts tonight and goes throughout this long, and what looks to be very warm, Labor Day weekend. Here's the link to the Slow Food website in case you haven't heard about this potentially historic event. If you are in the area, there are many free, open to the public, events and exhibitions planned - so come on over - the revolution will not be televised, but will be catered.

I am covering events Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, for this blog and others, so I'm not quite sure when articles, photos, and/or videos will be up. However, rest assured that I'll be sharing as much as I can possibly manage - as soon as I can manage. Stay tuned, and take it slow.

If you are interested, here is a three-part video that cover the origins of the Slow Food movement.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Classic, Traditional, 100% Completely Authentic Peruvian Ceviche - This is Exactly How They Make it in Peru, for Real

Most gastronerds credit Peru with giving us the marinated seafood salad called "ceviche," but I imagine that most coastal fishing cultures developed similar dishes. In fact, tuna poke, which is a very popular appetizer here on the West Coast, is a very similar idea.

I've already posted one ceviche recipe on the blog, called "Bay Scallop and Mango Ceviche." It was originally posted to Youtube, where it caused a virtual riot among my Peruvian friends. Ceviche is their national dish, and they don't take kindly to people like me adding things like mango, and still calling it ceviche. Apparently, there is only one way to make ceviche, and no variations shall bear the sacred name, ceviche.

I tried to defend myself with the usual, "it's my recipe, and I'll call it whatever I want." This only infuriated them more, and it almost turned into an international incident as I ignored their demands to change the name. While this recipe is much more traditional, I'm sure I did something wrong, and undoubtedly the title will be gently challenged. Enjoy!

Click here for ingredients and transcript

Late Summer Haiku Challenge

To me, the photo below really captures what this time of year looks and feels like. It also inspired the following haiku. There is something enigmatic about the haiku. Its strict 5-7-5 syllable structure somehow bringing an openness to the poem. I look forward to reading your submissions.

Peaches wait for fall,

Getting sweeter all the time,
Moving into earth.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some Good Frickin' Paprika Chicken

My non-fat yogurt kick continues with this yogurt and paprika marinated grilled chicken. The name in the title is an homage to one of the best chicken take-out joints in San Francisco, called "Good Frickin' Chicken." I've always loved the name, so I'm stealing it for this recipe.

While this is a pretty straightforward grilled chicken recipe, the vinaigrette trick you'll see at the end was a last minute touch that worked out nicely. I really like oil and vinegar-based sauces on grilled meats. They work beautifully with the smoky, caramelized exterior. It's this part of the recipe where you can summon your inner chef and decide what oil, vinegar, and other flavorings you'll use to bath your chicken.

I mention in the clip to use a fresh Spanish paprika to get the best results. The cheap, rusty-brown dust in the back of the spice shelf you use to sprinkle on the deviled eggs once a year is not going to cut it. There's really a major difference in taste and appearance - it's like using bacon bits instead of real crumbled bacon. You wouldn’t do that, would you? Enjoy.

1 cut up chicken
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp paprika
pinch of cayenne
1 tbsp hot chili sauce
6 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp ketchup
dash of hot sauce
pinch of paprika
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back By Popular Demand: Robert Rodriguez Does Puerco Pibil

Gee, if I knew the reviews of RR's cooking skills were going to be so great I wouldn't have featured him! As you know, I work alone, but I guess I can share the spotlight for one more day. Here is something called Puerco Pibil, which I've never made, or know anything about, so I'll let Chef Rodriguez take it from here. Enjoy!

(Rated NC-17)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Robert Rodriguez Makes Breakfast - Finally, a Celebrity that Can Cook!

While checking messages on YouTube, I got a tip about some cooking videos done by Robert Rodriguez, who directed such films and Spy Kids, and Sin City. I usually jump at the chance to post celebrity video recipes, like I did for Paul McCartney, and Christopher Walken. They are fun to watch, easy to ridicule, and usually generate some interesting conversation. But, much to my surprise (and slight disappointment) this Rodriguez guy can cook! He not only makes a great looking breakfast taco, but he makes his own tortillas. That's some serious cooking chops. Check it out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is this a Juxtaposition, or What?

This photo was taken the night of the Foodbuzz San Francisco food bloggers dinner. I'm posting it because I don't believe I've used the word "juxtaposition" in the blog yet.

I like this photo because in one frame you have San Francisco's oldest restaurant, the Tadich Grill, right next door to Perbacco, one of the City's newest.

The contrasts in colors, shapes, textures, signs, fonts, and materials are fascinating to me. As I snapped the picture I wondered if Perbacco will still be there in another 156 years?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update on an Upbeat Jim

Jim just posted this comment under the "Calling All Foodies" post, but I wanted to make sure all you wise foodwishers got to see it. Thanks again for participating, it was a great exchange on the various philosophies of cooking.

"Hello Everyone! Thank you for your amazing and insightful comments. You (and Chef John) have helped transform my thinking about cooking and food. What a difference my new attitude is already making in the kitchen. I am now back in touch with why I went to culinary school to begin with. Thanks again for your wonderful thoughts! :) - Jim"

Phoenix Foodie Feeds Friends a Food Wishes Feast

Tho X. Bui sent me this photo of him feeding five foodie friends a food wish feast. The menu included yogurt grilled chicken, a Cabernet-cherry sauce to serve with smoked turkey, and barbecued shrimp. Looked like a great meal, but what I enjoyed the most was the fact that he was wearing my "A Hollandaise can sense fear" t-shirt! You go Tho.

Monday, August 18, 2008

This Lamb is My Lamb, This Lamb is Your Lamb… Grilled Lamb Chops with Orange and Fresh Mint Sauce

As you know I'm big on cooking fresh, local food whenever possible. But, there are times when you have to make exceptions, and these lamb chops are a great example. While browsing the local market I saw a sale on Australian lamb chops. They were perfectly trimmed, exactly the same thickness, and neatly packaged in one-pound containers. These lamb chops are basically the same cut as a beef T-bone steak, with a strip loin on one side, and a tenderloin on the other. In this chef's opinion, they are the ultimate cut for grilled lamb.

I decided on a mish-mash of Mediterranean herbs and spices, with the secret ingredient being a small dash of cinnamon. There is something about cinnamon that really pairs perfectly with grilled lamb. I also love mint jelly on grilled lamb, but I have a reputation to worry about, so instead of the green stuff in the glass jar, I made a quick, homemade version that you will love. This was the best tasting lamb I've had in a long time, and while it wasn't local, it was damn good. Enjoy!


2 lbs lamb loin chops
3 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cumin
pinch of cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried mixed herbs - Italian, Greek, or French blend
salt as needed

1/4 cup orange marmalade
pinch of hot chili flakes
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chopped mint

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cooking Isn't Life and Death - It's Much More Important Than That

This is my response to Jim and his recent letter. His comment are in bold.

" I feel very nervous when it comes to flavoring food."

I've got good news for you - the food is already flavored. You are nervous because you're trying to push and pull ingredients, force them to submit to your recently acquired skills and techniques, instead of following them to see where they go.

A bowl of perfectly cooked spaghetti, tossed with good olive oil, garlic, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and chili flakes, is an "awesome meal," as your friend put it. True, your training is why the water had enough salt in it, the pasta was drained at the right moment, the basil was a beautiful green chiffanade, instead of an ugly black pile - but, the "awesomeness" of the meal, the "flavoring food" part, had little to do with you - it was the inherent goodness in the ingredients.

Don't try to make the food do tricks. Sliced leeks slowly melted with a strip of bacon, topped with grilled salmon is done - why are you trying to make a béarnaise sauce? Because you know how? Don't take credit (or blame) for the foods flavor, only for bringing (not forcing) it out.

Young painters use too many colors, young musicians use too many notes, and young cooks use to many ingredients.

"But the challenge to "make an awesome meal" out of random ingredients (i.e. without a recipe) made me want to throw up."

There is no harder task than trying to cook in a strange kitchen. Even the most experienced chefs lose that precious confidence stumbling around a foreign pantry. The key words in your sentence are "the challenge," because that's exactly what it is - a challenge, as in a fun, exciting, and dangerous dare.

Feeling like you want to throw up before the meal is understandable. Especially if you confuse "challenge" with "necessity " And, if after cooking the recipe, it really is bad, pretend to drop it on the floor and call for pizza.

"Is it just experience? I hope not!"

It's never "just" one thing, but, experience is a big part of it. Your 1,000th hollandaise will probably be better than your 4th. There's a reason people start as cooks, and then become sous chefs, chefs, and finally executive chefs. What's your hurry?

Old experienced chefs are expected to put out stunning food; cooks right out of culinary school aren't. This is why you should be cooking with relaxed abandon, free to mess things up royally. That whole "learn from your mistakes" thing was invented in a kitchen.

"Maybe I am looking for the holy grail of cooking, but…"

Get in line. We're all looking for it. And, even though you won't find it, never, ever, stop looking.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Turning Barbecued Shrimp Outside In

One thing that took some getting used to after moving to San Francisco was the summer rain. There isn't any. From June to late fall, besides the very occasional light drizzle, it just doesn't rain…at all. We get dew, fog, wind, mist, and dark clouds, but never any of those thundering downpours that the rest of the country gets on a regular basis.

Where I grew up, in western New York, whether you were planning a game of golf, or getting friends together to grill some shrimp, dodging the rain was always part of the deal. I'm sure most of you can relate - the shrimp are thawed, the potato salad is made, and it begins raining so hard the neighborhood pets start to pair up. Next time that h
appens try this unbelievably easy, and fast, indoor barbecue shrimp recipe.

This recipe will work with peeled shrimp, but the "ready to peel" raw shrimp called for in the recipe will allow you to really get that char-grilled look without worrying about dry shrimp. The other thing I love about this recipe, besides the simulated barbecue effect, is the fact a batch only takes about 6-7 minutes to cook, so you can do multiple batches in between complaining about the weather. Wet enough for 'ya? Enjoy!

1 pound (16-20 per lb.) jumbo shrimp, shell-on, deveined (sold as "raw, ready to peel")
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chili powder (or sub 1/2 chipotle pepper and omit cayenne)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
lemon wedges

Ask and You Shall Receive

I'm putting the finishing touches on a shrimp recipe that will air later today, but I wanted to post a quick note regarding the overwhelming response to Jim's letter. At the time of this posting there have been over 40 responses - all of which were detailed, thoughtful, heartfelt, and sincere. I will be giving my take on this young chef's crisis of confidence soon, but I'll say now how impressed I am, and how proud I am, at the level of passion and knowledge the readers of this blog have shown. Well done!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jazzy Watercolor Mussels - Painting by Numbers; Ones and Zeros

Come with me on a jazzy journey into colors, shapes, and sounds. Old broken footage has been filtered and folded, softened and slurped. The unusable made useable, and now playing. Watch tapping, bobbing, swaying to swimming spoon, and fresh fills.

Close your eyes and watch the magic. Smell the notes, smell the teen spirit, and smell the garlic. Come with me on a jazzy journey into open shells and closed fists. Go ahead, brush your shoulders off.

2 pounds mussels
1 cup of wine
1/2 stick butter
lots of minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
pepper flakes
1/2 cup Italian parsley
bread and lemons

Eddie Harris "Compared to What" Part 1

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Calling All Foodies! Your Help is Desperately Needed!

I'm asking for help answering this young cook's difficult, but thought provoking question. I will post my official response in a few days after comments, and discussions, from you foodwishers.

There are no wrong answers to this question (or right ones for that matter), so please chime in with any and all advice for this future chef. Thanks!

Photo Credit (c) Flickr user tracyhunter

Hello Chef,

You were kind enough to respond to some simple questions I emailed several months ago. I hope you will take a minute to respond to this more involved question.

I have finished my education at Johnson & Wales University. I am very confident with my knife skills and my understanding of the wet, dry, and combination cooking methods. However, I feel very nervous when it comes to flavoring food.

Recently, a friend of mine invited me over and said, "Oh, since you are a big culinary school graduate, make me an awesome meal with whatever you find in my fridge, freezer, and pantry." I turned white.

I can prep any ingredient. I can make any recipe. But the challenge to "make an awesome meal" out of random ingredients (i.e. without a recipe) made me want to throw up.

My question is this: "What approach did you use to learn to transform random ingredients into awesome dishes/meals."

Is it just experience? I hope not! I am trying to develop a framework to carry with me anywhere I go that will help me "make a daily special", "make an awesome meal", or just simply put some common ingredients together so they taste good. I hope you won't reply and say this is what the whole business is about...because that is the answer I have received from the best culinarians in Charlotte, NC!

Maybe I am looking for the holy grail of cooking, but I am hoping you have more insightful and instructive words. After all, I have told you in the past (and I still believe) your approach to cooking is the most simple, flavorful, and intuitive of any public chef I have investigated. :)

Thank you Chef for whatever words you can share.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fried Green Tomatoes - Better Than the Whistle Stop Cafe

This video recipe for the southern classic, fried green tomatoes, was made using the giant green tomatoes picked at the Wild Boar Farms tasting. They almost went unpicked when we felt how hard they still were, but then the idea for a green, green fried tomato came to mind.

I always assumed that this recipe was nothing more than a way to use up those unripe green tomatoes before winter's chill, but, origins aside, it's interesting, uniquely flavored, and surprisingly light for a fried item.
I've always had a bad attitude about this recipe thanks to the movie of the same name. I'll pretty much go and see any movie with food in the title, figuring that even if the movie stinks, at least it will have food in it.

So, you can image my disappointment that the movie didn't have very much green fried tomatoes information in it. What it did have was women talking to each other about other women talking to each other.

Anyway, I've gotten over it, and can now enjoy this recipe without thinking about whether Ninny was really Idgie, or not. I hope you can find some large green tomatoes, and give this recipe a try. Enjoy!


4 (1/2 inch) slices green tomato
1 cup flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup corn meal
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter

equal parts sweet relish and mayo
hot sauce to taste

View the complete recipe

Monday, August 11, 2008

I Say Tomato, and You Say Tomato

Here's a short film (along with some photos) from the fabulous heirloom tomato tasting at Wild Boar Farms on Sunday. It was a great event, and the tomatoes were as delicious as advertised. After gorging on these just-picked beauties, the thought of eating conventional tomatoes seems ridiculous.

You just can’t fight Mother Nature. There are only a few months a year when you should eat fresh tomatoes. Sorry, that's just the way it is. But, the good news - this is one of them!

So, after watching this, figure out when the next local farm
er's market is, and get some real tomatoes. As far as ways to eat them - keep it simple - it doesn't get much better than olive oil, salt, maybe some fresh basil and cheese, on crunchy grilled bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tasting Tomatoes and Celebrating the Woman that Changed the Way American Chefs Cook

Thanks to fellow foodies Annie and Nate, of the House of Annie blog, Michele and I are going to a special heirloom tomato tasting at the Wild Boar Farms, in the Suisun Valley of Northern California. I will be investigating whether the amazing things I've read and heard about their tomatoes are true.

Wild Boar Farms has the reputation for growing the finest tomatoes anywhere, which they credit to their ideal location, and describe as, "a perfect combination of the Central Valley heat mixed with some cooling at night from the bay breeze. The soil is outrageous, class 1 topsoil runs 90 feet or more in places, ten feet is considered excellent." It sounds like tomato heaven on earth.

This farm's tomatoes are prized by many of the Bay Area's top chefs, including the Queen of California Cuisine, Alice Waters. For those of you who haven't heard of Alice, she and her restaurant Chez Panisse, are credited with revolutionizing the ways chefs procure food and plan menus. It was all based around using locally produced, seasonal foods, purchased from farmers she knew by their first names.

This California cuisine movement wasn't started to change the world, it was created so she could feed her customers the freshest, best tasting food she could find. What was considered revolutionary back then - a chef dealing with small organic farmers directly - is now commonplace, and American cuisine is much better for it. Here is a short clip of Alice speaking with Charlie Rose. Enjoy!

Tomato basket photo (c) Flikr user heydrienne
Tomato sandwich photo (c) Flikr user Crystl

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Plum Pan Sauce - An Exceptional Recipe

It's been stone fruit nirvana around here lately - peaches, apricots, nectarines, pluots, and plums stacked high in gravity-defying piles. Whether eaten outside, or over a sink, the sweet juices running down your chin a sign you've chosen well. A part of me thinks it wrong not to eat every one of these fruits raw because before you can say "Happy Labor Day," they'll be gone for another year.

But, cooking is all about exceptions and compromises. Just as in winter, when we convince ourselves that there's nothing wrong with using canned peaches - in summer there are times when we have to talk ourselves into sacrificing a few fresh plums for the sake of the roast. This video recipe for pork tenderloin, featuring roasted plums, is so good that any feelings of guilt will disappear like the butter we use to finish this delicious sauce.

When shopping for this recipe be sure to choose plums (or any other stone fruit) that are fairly firm, so they keep their shape after roasting. You know that selfish jerk that has to feel-up every piece of fruit before deciding on one? This time, be that jerk. I've also included some links below to other video recipes that use pork tenderloin - one of the best, and easiest, protein choices there is. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 servings:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pork tenderloin (not loin)
1 red onion
2 shallots
fresh thyme springs
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
2 firm plums
1 tsp cold butter

Check out these other pork tenderloin video recipes:
Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cider Dijon Pan Sauce
Black Pepper Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Black Cherry Reduction

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Not Quite Wordless Wednesday

I'm right in the middle of a couple big projects, one of which has to do with a potential sponsor for the site. This summer's a critical time for the blog, as far as monetizing to the point of sustainability. My mission has always been to provide free culinary instruction and inspiration, and I continue to explore ways to keep that dream alive.

I will also have news soon regarding a special limited edition DVD of my favorite video clips (and a few other fun things), to sell on the blog. Hopefully this will help generate enough funds to keep the blog cooking for the rest of the year. And, by "limited edition," I mean I will only press as many as ordered.

I'll leave you with a photo of a super delicious fresh summer veggie pizza I made a few days ago. It had cherry tomatoes, fresh corn, poblano peppers, basil, fresh mozzarella, reggiano, and sourdough crust. Do you self a favor and shave some fresh corn on a pizza. Incredible. Click the photo to get intimate with it. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

El Paso Pizza - Alliteration and Geographical Convenience Never Tasted So Good

I did something today that has always bothered me when done by large food corporations; I named a recipe based solely on geography and alliteration. This video recipe for a Tex-Mex style pizza was called "El Paso Pizza" because Paso and Pizza both start with P's, and El Paso is in Texas. I've never been to El Paso, nor do I have any knowledge about their pizza - if they even eat pizza.

Not many people realize that there are absolutely no laws or guidelines on the authenticity of food packaging names, claims, and histories. Those cute little stori
es that you always see on the back of labels about how Aunt Tillie invented her "Bakersfield Brownies" during the Depression, using chocolate smuggled into to the country by trained hawks. It's all made up. The name, the location, the part about the hawks - all invented in some marketing meeting.
I realize that none of you really care why this is called El Paso pizza, but I wanted to call your attention to the whole "amazing but true story behind the name" scam at the supermarket. Just another reason not to buy prepared foods! Anyway, this video recipe is quite tasty and a great idea when you can't decide whether to have pizza or tacos.

In the video I mention to try and use grass-fed beef, which is now available, ground in one-pound packages, at most major supermarkets. Here is a link that explains the many health benefits of this, over the conventional corn-fed beef. I'm also linking to the Pizza Dough video, in case you want to make your own. Enjoy!

1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle pepper - more if you likes it spicy
1 tbsp ancho chile powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sliced Poblano pepper, or Anaheim, or other green peppers
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 oz pepper Jack cheese
one crust or pizza dough for a large pizza

View the complete recipe
El Paso sign photo (c) Adriano Agulló

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Foodbuzz Buzz - Busy Foodies Can Now See and Be Seen!

One of the few drawbacks of being a professional blogger is the lack of time available for surfing other foodie sites online. That gnawing sense you're missing out on exactly what inspired you to blog in the first place. Gone are the days of cruising carefree across the vast plane of culinary content. If only there existed an online resource that pulled together, and organized, all this edible information into a delicious digest. And then, I found Foodbuzz.

Remember the feeling you had the first time you saw a food court at the mall? Corndogs next to pizza, next to burgers, next to ice cream - ah, the simple brilliance of its design. You no longer had to walk from one end of the mall to the other before deciding which form of high-fructose corn syrup you were going to feast upon. That's the same feeling I had when I came across Foodbuzz.

Foodbuzz allows you to search for, and browse, a huge collection of culinary content including; recipes, videos, news, photos, restaurant reviews, blog posts,
new restaurants, and forums. You've probably noticed the Foodbuzz badge on this blog's sidebar, which pronounces me as a "featured publisher." Through this program, they're helping promote top-tier food blogs, as well as sharing in the revenue generated.

Since they're based in San Francisco, I was fortunate enough to attend a dinner last night they hosted for a group of Bay Area featured publishers. The meal was at Perbacco, an Italian restaurant downtown, where we enjoyed good food (see here), great wine, and even better conversation. It was a chance for the Foodbuzz staff to meet bloggers they'd only previously seen on-screen, and for the bloggers to meet each other. It was a rare, and very much welcomed, change from the normally impersonal online interactions.

The Foodbuzz staff could not have been nicer, and displayed a genuine love of food (I was dubious at first glance, since they were all so thin and healthy looking), and passion for what they're trying to do. You can't fake the funk when it comes to foodie websites, which is why I'm so encouraged by this company's future,
and this blogs participation in it. Thanks to Doug (aka DFresh), Ryan (aka ryanthegirl), and the rest of the fabulous Foodbuzz team!

Photos from top to bottom:
- Housemade breadsticks
- Ravioli stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and soft egg yolk
- Roasted red and gold beets, arugula, Castelmagno cheese, white balsamic vinaigrette
- Chicken, mushrooms, and gnocchi
- Seafood risotto
- Chocolate cake (not sure of the details, as I forgot to take the menu!)
- Raspberry peach crostata with gelato