Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Food Wishes is a Finalist in the 2011 Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards!

It is with much pride and happiness that I announce Food Wishes has been chosen as a video category finalist for the 2011 Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards! Thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate us! This is an extra special honor since the finalists were actually chosen by a panel of live human editors, and not simply by most online votes.

Speaking of which, this final round IS done by popular vote. You've all been so supportive in the past regarding various awards and recognitions, and I'm sure I can count on you again! Please go to the 2011 Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards page, and cast your vote. Thanks!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Snackpicks' No-Bake Macaroni & Cheese with Crunchy Cheez-It Gratin

One thing a cook never stops searching for is the perfect macaroni and cheese topping. If it's crunchy, or has the potential to be crunchy, we'll try it as a topping. This time, a handful of Cheez-It crackers, toasted in butter, are taking their turn, deliciously covering this creamy, no-bake mac and cheese.

By the way, just because I'm using this on a no-bake recipe, doesn't mean you can't use this in the traditional way. If you want to try this cheesy topping for a regular macaroni and cheese, just toss the crumbs and Parmesan in melted butter, but don't crisp it up in the pan. The topping will brown during the baking time, and will come out just as nicely.

This recipe is part of a series of eight snack videos I did for Kellogg's When you click on the video player below, you'll be taken to their great snack-filled website to view the video and get the written instructions. If you have questions or comments, please come on back and post them here. Thanks, and enjoy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken with Chipotle and Green Onion Gravy - Practice Makes Pan Sauces Perfect

I know it's Easter Sunday, but the show must go on. I was going to wait until tomorrow to post this delicious chicken with chipotle and green onion gravy recipe, but this week is so insanely busy, I wanted to get it up as soon as it was ready.

Nothing groundbreaking this time, just a simple exercise in pan gravy perfection. If I only had one day to teach someone how to cook, you better believe this archetypal sauce recipe would be one of the first things I'd demonstrate.

This entire procedure takes about 20 minutes, and the basic technique can be adapted countless ways. I usually avoid those yawn-inspiring, "Easy Weeknight Dinner" recipe lists, but this fits that description perfectly.

It's also a great random chicken recipe generator. You could make this same dish every Thursday night for a year, and by switching up the flavorings and spices, never have the exact same recipe twice. You can also recklessly rotate the starchy, gravy-absorbing side dishes, as this shines with any manner of rice, pasta, or potatoes.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your holiday, don't eat too many leftover Easter eggs, and the next time you're looking for an easy weeknight dinner, give this chicken and gravy recipe a try. Enjoy!

2 chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup chicken broth, or as needed to adjust thickness
1/2 teaspoon chipotle, or to taste
2 tablespoons minced green onions

View the complete recipe

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Some Happy Easter Lamb Ideas

I want to wish everyone who celebrates, a Happy Easter tomorrow! No fresh new holiday-appropriate video to post today, but since lamb is such a classic Easter dish, I wanted to share some of my favorite lamb recipes from posts past.

All of these would make for a lovely Easter dinner tomorrow. For dessert I'd go with hollow chocolate rabbits and marshmallow peeps. Enjoy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Melty Butter Sizzle Slide

I just filmed a tasty chicken with chipotle/green onion pan gravy video, but I won't be able to finish editing it until this weekend. It was a short and crazy week, with returning from the Club Sandwich event in NYC, and getting ready for our humongous wine and food pairing event in Sonoma (stay tuned for details). So, I was just happy I had time to film a new dish.

With that said, I give you another installment of random food porn. This is "Melty Butter Sizzle Slide," and comes fresh from the aforementioned video recipe. There are so many great visual meditations that happen while you're cooking, and this is one of my favorites. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Throwing Down with Bobby Flay at Hellmann's Club Sandwich

No, it wasn't actually a throwdown, but this is as close as I'm ever going to get. Here's a little video recap of my Hellmann's Club Sandwich experience, where I joined eight other food bloggers for a private sandwich-making demonstration by the one and only, Bobby Flay.

Getting advice on how to make a sandwich from a star chef like Bobby Flay may seem like a little bit of overkill; kind of like having Michael Phelps help you with your treading water skills, but as the Iron Chef told us in his intro, making a great sandwich is not as easy as it looks.

In addition to some great adaptations to three classic sandwiches, he also showed off a couple neat twists, like adding mayonnaise to the olive relish for an extra creamy muffaletta, and replacing the traditional sauerkraut in the Rueben with fresh coleslaw.

My favorite trick was something that I'll be demonstrating in an upcoming Club Sandwich post, regarding a very cool way to slice a sandwich. It's basically cutting the sandwich at an angle and on a bias, but it will but much easier to show than explain.

Other key sandwich making commandments include spreading your mayo and other condiments on both slices of bread; and being sure to cover the entire slice all the way to the edges. By the way, if you happen have any secret sandwich making tips or tricks of your own, don't be holding out on us.

After the demo, we got to create our own signature sandwich, and as you'll see in the video, I was very happy with how mine came out. I really think the "Mitzeflaywich" could become a bona fide sandwich sensation. Not only is it delicious and easy to make, but the name is super catchy! 

Stay tuned for upcoming posts dedicated to helping you build your perfect sandwich. Speaking of which, be sure to head over to the Hellmann's website to enter the Build Your Perfect Sandwich Sweepstakes where you can win a $5,000 grocery gift card.

Disclosure: This post was created in connection with my appointment as an Ambassador in Hellmann’s Club Sandwich Program. I'd like to thank Bobby Flay and Hellmann's for such a fun and informative trip to New York City, and for making this post and video possible. 

I hope you enjoy the video!

For more great sandwich-making tips and tricks check out these links from my fellow Hellmann's Club Sandwich members: Amanda Bottoms Kevin and Amanda, Shaina Olmanson of Food For My Family, Katja Presnal of Skimbaco Lifestyle Caryn Bailey of Rockin’Mama, Liz Latham of Hoosier Homemade, Kim Vetrano of She Scribes, Sarah Caron of Sarah’s Cucina Bella, and Daniel Garcia of Consumer Queen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Heading Home from Club Sandwich

Just a quick note to say I'll be flying back to San Francisco today after a fun, and quite delicious three days in New York City. I'll be back in the office tomorrow and I'll try and catch-up on the comments and emails ("try" being the key word). The Hellmann's Club Sandwich event went very well, and I learned a couple cool tricks from Iron Chef Bobby Flay, which I can't wait to share. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Prick Your Tongue with Chicken Piccata

As with any old recipe, there are numerous theories as to how the dish came to be named. The one I subscribe to claims it's an Italian adaptation of the French word "piquer," which means to prick or poke with something sharp. This makes absolutely no sense, until you taste it.

The "to prick" is apparently a metaphor for the sharp, intensely flavored sauce. Thanks to lots of lemon, capers, and wine, this sauce is about as subtle as a right hook (apologies to non-boxing fans for the reference).

Here, I've demonstrated a very basic version of a recipe that begs for variation. I'll sometimes add minced shallots, or garlic; sometimes I'll use wine, other times just straight lemon. Italian parsley is wonderful as the finishing herb, but switching that out for tarragon or basil will also bring much pleasure.

One note about the chicken: I like to use larger breasts, pounded to about 1/2-inch thick. If you are using small 6-oz chicken breasts, there's no need to pound out. Most versions I've seen call for the meat to be pounded extremely thin, but I believe this comes from the fact that the original recipe used thin veal medallions, aka scaloppini.

At home we have the luxury of a few extra minutes, and I think the slightly thicker chicken gives you a little nicer bite. Anyway, I hope this post "piques" your interest, and you give this quick and delicious recipe a try!

Chicken Piccata Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
salt and fresh ground black pepper as needed
cayenne to taste
all-purpose flour for dredging
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained (tip: for more intense flavor, mince 1 teaspoon of the capers, leaving the rest whole)
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/4-in slices
2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hello from New York City – The Sandwich Capital of the World!

I just arrived in New York City to take part in a very exciting campaign called, "Club Sandwich." Hellmann's invited me, along with eight other food bloggers, to be brand ambassadors, and we'll be sharing our favorite recipes, construction tips, and other sandwich-related esoterica.

The campaign officially kicks-off on Monday, and will feature a demonstration by Bobby Flay. I don't think it's going to be a sandwich "throwdown," but nevertheless, I will have to make my own creation in front of the Iron Chef. Should be a lot of fun! Stay tuned for more information, and I invite you to follow along with me on Twitter. The event hashtag is #clubsandwich. Enjoy!

This post was created in connection with my appointment as an Ambassador in Hellmann’s Club Sandwich Program. Visit to share how you build the perfect sandwich.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's Green, Misunderstood, and Full of Hot Air? Asparagus Souffle!

We also would have accepted the answer, "Al Gore." This video recipe demonstrates my basic game plan for any savory, vegetable-based soufflé. Contrary to popular belief, soufflés are not very difficult, as long as you respect the laws of physics.

The cartoon cliché of the housewife crying over a fallen soufflé (because her stupid husband slammed the door) has become an iconic scene of culinary incompetence. Well, I have some good news… these types of soufflés are supposed to fall down.

If you're doing a big cheese soufflé for a dinner party, or the classic Grand Marnier soufflé for dessert, then yes, by all means, bring it to the table straight out of the oven and fully erect. After a minute of oohs and aahs, you serve your highly impressed guests.

But these vegetable soufflés are a simple, seasonal side dish, and all that pomp and circumstance isn't necessary. You don't need to serve this right out of the oven, and you really shouldn't. To really appreciate the taste and texture, the soufflé should cool a bit.

Having said that, if you are doing these for a dinner party then you'll get the best of both worlds; since your guests will invariably be milling about the kitchen while you're cooking, they will see you asparagus soufflés in all their inflated glory anyway.

I hope you give this recipe a try, and also experiment with other vegetables. Broccoli, artichokes, leeks, spinach, or any other edible plant you can puree, should work with the same basic procedure. You can also play around with your cheese options, and as I mentioned in the video, a sharp, white cheddar is my fromage of choice. Enjoy!

Bonus Asparagus Souffle Coverage: This recipe was inspired by an Asparagus Souffle recipe I saw on my friend Elise's blog, the always outstanding, Simply Recipes. Check out her great post here!

Asparagus Souffle Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, (about 12 ounces by weight)
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine table salt)
cayenne to taste
1 cup cold milk
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 cup finely grated cheese
4 eggs, separated

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coming Soon: Asparagus Souffle

You could see this later tonight, but it's more likely this lovely asparagus souffle will make its Food Wishes debut tomorrow. Things are a little hectic around here as I'm getting ready for a short, but exciting trip to New York City, where I'll be making sandwiches with Bobby Flay. Hang tight for more details on that, and stay tuned for this!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!

I can't believe it's already National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! April 12 seems to come faster and faster every year. Anyway, what better way to celebrate than with one of our famous Inside-Out Grilled Cheese Sandwiches? These crispy, cheesy works of art are not for everyday use, but today, they are not only appropriate, but necessary. Enjoy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mystery Noodle Experiment: Operation Crepenoodlespaetzlecini

This bizarre and quite possibly useless video recipe is what happens when I don't have the good sense to not film what I'm cooking. What started as some innocent experiments with semolina dumplings, somehow turned into a surreal crepes-pasta-spaetzle-noodle-chowmein hybrid.

As I cooked and edited this freak of nature, I kept going back and forth between thinking this was a giant waste of time, to actually thinking we may be on to something. I think the basic idea of using a denser semolina crepe as noodles is worth exploring further, but not until I hear what you all think.

By the way, some of you may be wondering why I didn’t mention what it tasted like during the video. I have no idea. It was pretty good – kind of like fried macaroni, only a bit softer and richer. I think I was just so confused by the whole exercise, it never occurred to me. Anyway, I hope some of you do some experimenting of your own, and together we can take this to the next level…or not. Enjoy!

1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt, and maybe sugar
1/2 cup semolina flour
2 teaspoon olive oil (not shown in video, but add it in)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

American Kobe

This short film about beef came about during some recent recipe testing. The magnificently marbled American-style Kobe beef is flat iron steak from Snake River Farms, and while this doesn't qualify as a video recipe (sorry, the cooking part is missing), I still wanted to share. Enjoy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ditalini with Roasted Tomato Sauce, Oregano, and Goat Cheese - More Than Meets the Eye

At first glance, this roasted tomato sauce recipe may not seem like something that's worth the trouble. That is, until you realize it's actually less work, and about the same amount of time as a stove-top version.

However, don't make this because of any procedural advantages, make it because it tastes awesome. What the hot oven does to the deep red San Marzano tomatoes is a wonder to behold, and produces a pasta sauce with some serious depth of flavor.

After it's post-roast re-hydration, this sauce is ready to rock. This would be amazing for a chicken parmesan or beef pizzaiola, or even more simply showcased, as it is here. The always entertaining ditalini are a perfect medium for the rich sauce, smoky oregano, and creamy, tangy goat cheese.

By the way, this is a great trick when you already have the oven on for roasting some meat or chicken. While your roast is cooking, you can also be making the sauce for your pasta side dish. Also, the sauce will add moisture and aroma to the oven, so it's a win-win. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

1/4 cup good olive oil
28-oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes, regular or packed with basil
1/2 onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2-3 springs fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups cold water

View the complete recipe

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Grilled Korean-Style Beef Short Ribs – It's So Flanken Good!

After weeks of damp and dreary weather, the sun is back in control of San Francisco's blue skies, and that means it's time to grill. This video recipe for grilled Korean-style beef short ribs is not so much about the specific recipe, as it is about this lesser-known cut of meat.

It's most commonly sold as "flanken-style," and is nothing more than thin-sliced beef short ribs. We've done several beef short rib recipes on this blog, but all those were cooked low and slow, so the meat's considerable connective tissue has time to breakdown and become tender.

Here, we are only grilling for a few minutes per side, so we're relying on the much thinner cut, and an Asian pear-spiked marinade to achieve a similar succulence. I welcome you to copy my marinade recipe below, as is, but I have to be honest and let you know I never do this the same way twice.

I always include the pear for its sweetness and purported tenderizing abilities, and the soy is pretty much required, but as far as the other ingredients, I play fast and loose. Instead of rice vinegar, sometimes it's lemon and/or lime. Sometimes I'll use ketchup instead of hoisin, or honey instead of brown sugar – you get the idea.

As I say in the video, this is one cut of beef you don't want to grill too rare. It's a very flavorful, but chewy piece of meat to begin with, so in my opinion it needs to be cooked to at least medium to ensure the optimum mouth-feel. By the way, all you "I want mine well-done" people are in luck. This should still be fairly juicy even if cooked all the way through.

Anyway, go talk to your friendly neighborhood butcher, and tell them you want some "flanken-style" beef short ribs, and then give this great grill technique a try. Enjoy!

4 pounds "flanken-style" beef short ribs, fully trimmed
1 large Asian pear
3 cloves garlic
few thin pieces of fresh ginger
2 packed tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup sherry wine
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sambal or other Asian-style hot sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

View the complete recipe

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nominations are Open for Saveur's Best Food Blog Awards!

As many of you know, Food Wishes won Saveur Magazine's 1st Annual Best Food Blog Award for Most Innovative Video Content. Well, nominations are now open for this year's awards in case you want to help Chef John retain the crown.

To nominate Food Wishes, simply go to the official 2nd Annual Best Food Blog Awards page, and enter the required site info. I've included a little guide video that I posted for my YouTube viewers today. As always, thank you for all the amazing support!

Update: Some of you are asking if it has to be a nomination for the video category only. No! You can nominated me in whatever category you see fit. Thanks!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Couscous Primavera – Because I Don't Get Enough Hate Mail from Morocco

Well, it started before I even posted the recipe. Here's a comment from the couscous primavera tease post I did yesterday:

Soukaina said... "plz plz plzzzzzzzzzz !! I am begging you !! stop massacring couscous !! I'm a Moroccan ; been born there , lived there my entire life so I know what I'm talking about !! there's one way and one way only to make couscous , and yours is just not it !! but if you prefer changing some ingredients or adding some stuff to it? that's fine ! do as you wish !! just don't call it couscous."

First of all, I'm only calling this couscous because the package says, "Couscous," and the stuff inside the package was couscous – or at least what we Americans get as couscous. 

Secondly, as with all my ethnically inspired dishes, I don't claim this is in any way authentic. I'm sure it's not, but not having ever had "real" Moroccan couscous I can't argue which version is better, so I'll just assume mine is.

Anyway, the point is, we're not trying to "massacre" anyone's cultural/culinary heritage. This is how we do couscous around these parts, and it's tough to knock a healthy, delicious, and easy side dish that takes about 10 minutes to make.

I'm obviously borrowing the name from the ubiquitous spring dish, Pasta Primavera, which like this recipe hopes to take advantage of fresh, seasonal, green produce. Speaking of which, you are highly encouraged to use whatever vegetables look good at your local (hopefully farmer's) market.

Please note: check the instructions on whatever package of couscous you happen to use. Times vary from 5-10 minutes depending on the brand. Enjoy!

Couscous Ingredients:
2 cups couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
big pinch of cayenne
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup freshly shucked green peas (or sub frozen like me)
2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, or other sweet herbs

View the complete recipe

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I've Been Hacked! Please Help Me Find and Kill Those Responsible

"Hacker" by Luiso
Okay, just kidding, I don't mean killed, but maybe hurt badly, or at least tied to a chair and forced to watch Hell's Kitchen. Someone has used my email address to send a whole bunch of spam, some of which you may have received.

As much as I'd like to help you get a great deal on Viagra and/or mail-order brides from Thailand, I had nothing to do with these emails, and have taken measures to insure this doesn’t happen again.

Speaking of which, besides changing my mail account password(s), should I be doing anything else? Sorry, and thanks!

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Few Random Scenes from my All-Clad Demo at Macy's

I feel pretty good these days when I get two new recipe videos posted in a week, and I was hoping to sneak in a third one today, but due to tax preparation, the opening of baseball season, spring fever, and other forces beyond my control, you'll have to settle for this. Here's a little glimpse into the duck sous vide demo I did for All-Clad at Macy's in San Francisco. This is dedicated to all of you loyal, but possibly-misguided souls who keep emailing me, telling me I need to have my own show. Enjoy!

A very special thanks to Lenny Ferreira, from, who filmed this segment! Also, a big thanks to Megan, from Macy's, and Earl from All-Clad for taking such good care of me, and to everyone who came down to watch!