Thursday, February 27, 2014

Trout Caviar “Fish & Chips” – And the Oscar for Best Hors d'Oeuvre Goes to…

Sure, you could serve some high-end Beluga or Ossetra caviar at your Oscars viewing party, but the problem with that plan is you’d have to get rich first. I’m not saying you won’t eventually be rolling in it, but the Academy Awards are Sunday, and we don’t want to rush you.

Instead, you can go with a more affordable option like the gorgeous trout roe seen glistening herein. This was only $25 for a 2-oz jar, and that’s purchased in San Francisco, one of the most expensive places on earth, so I’m hoping you can do even better than that.

It’s so obvious that I didn’t even mention it in the video, but of course this will work with any type of caviar. Having said that, when you consider value, it’s hard to beat these golden beads. Trout roe has a fresh, clean, briny flavor, and an absolutely beautiful texture. The feeling of those little, subtly salty eggs popping on your tongue is one of life’s great food experiences.

As far as portioning goes, if you use as much as I did on the first batch (pictured right), which was about 1 gram per chip, you’ll get between 50-60 hors d'oeuvres. If you want to stretch things a little further, then do smaller 1/2-gram portions, and get 100-120 still amazing tasting bites.

If you’re like me, and haven’t seen any of the movies yet, the only good reason to go to an Oscars party is for the food and drinks; and getting to enjoy something like these caviar “fish & chips” will make sitting through all those acceptance speeches almost worthwhile. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 100-120 bites (using 1/2-gram of roe per chip)
2 oz golden trout roe (or any other caviar or roe)
120 potato crisps or chips (I used original flavor Popchips)
about 1/2 cup sour cream
chives as needed

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pancetta-Wrapped Leek Gratin – Simply Amazing

I’m all about simply prepared vegetables, but every once in a while I need to cover them in caramelized pork and cheese, and this stunningly delicious pancetta-wrapped leek gratin was one of those times. I love those times.

This “umami bomb” is so flavorful and satisfying, it almost seems disrespectful to serve it as a side dish. Pair this with a slice of buttered bread, hedge your bets with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and enjoy a truly special lunch.

For extra credit, after you finish your meal, call your best French friend and describe what you had. They will love and hate you for it. So, whether you make this for lunch, or use it to upstage a steak or grilled piece of salmon, I hope you give this great leek gratin a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 portions:
3 large leeks
about 4 oz pancetta
2 tsp olive oil
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup drinkable white wine
1/3 cup heavy cream
finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as needed
chives to garnish

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How Not to Make Roasted Pork Loin with Grapes and Rosemary Cream Sauce

Well, you can’t win them all. This perfectly fine looking pork roast was the victim of a few easy-to-make mistakes, and hopefully by watching this you’ll avoid such mishaps in the future. In exchange, you’ll have to promise not to make fun of me.

The first, and most obvious error was way too much freshly minced rosemary. I always tell people to be super-careful about adding this resinous herb. I wasn’t paying attention, and just added what I had chopped without thinking, and it was pretty much all over at that point.

Adding cream helped nothing, and only made the herbaceous reduction more caloric and offensive. I probably could have added some lemon, mustard, horseradish, or other heavy-hitting condiment, but by that time nothing was going to unrosemary this train wreck.

On the bright side, the grapes were really good, and even after 30 minutes in the oven, had a juicy, still-firm texture. Their warm sweetness went very well with the meat. So, I hope you watch, critique, and maybe adapt this potentially amazing recipe into something worthwhile. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Duck Fat Steak Fries – There’s a New Fat in Town

You know a potato side dish is going to be good when 75% of the name refers to fat or meat. These super-crusty, oven-fried potato wedges, or “steak fries” as they call them where I’m from, are done with rendered duck fat, and while I’m a big fan of ones done with olive oil and/or butter, these really are better.

Not only does this fat help create a great texture, but it also adds a layer of richness and meatiness to the potatoes that’s nothing short of magical. Back in the day, you had to work or eat in a restaurant that served duck to enjoy this special treat, but happily, those days are over.

Thanks to evangelizing celebrity chefs and apparently smarter marketing people in the duck industry, this rendered fat is now pretty easy to find. My neighborhood Whole Foods stocks it, and I’ve seen it at many of the higher-end grocery stores.

By the way, if you’re concerned about that next cholesterol test, relax; duck fat is surprisingly healthy, and a quick Google search should explain why without me having to type any more. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:
2 large russet potatoes
2-3 tablespoons duck fat
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
- 325 F. for 40 minutes
- 450 F. for about 20 minutes or until done

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chicken Kiev – A High Degree of Difficulty Always Scores Extra Points

Unlike virtually every other recipe featured here, I’m not going to say this chicken Kiev is “easy to make.” It’s really not. You could follow this exactly as shown, and still have undercooked meat, or leaking butter, or any number of other tragedies. So, why try?

Because, if and when you pull this off, you’ll be enjoying one of the greatest chicken experiences of your life. It’s also one of the greatest garlic experiences of your life, as well as one of the greatest butter experiences of your life.

What makes this so challenging is that you can’t really cut, or poke into the Kiev to check for doneness. That would release the garlic-parsley butter prematurely, and be anticlimactic, to say the least. So, we go blindly by time. There are also variables like breast size, freezer temps/time, and oven crowding to deal with. 

However, if you use 8-oz breasts, and freeze exactly as shown here, then after a 2 to 3 minute deep-frying, these should take about 15-17 minutes to bake. The good news is that you have a few minutes after that before the meat gets noticeably drier, so you can give it a little extra time if it seems like it needs it.

One rule great of thumb is to listen for the butter. These are generally done when the garlic butter inside is hot enough to be forced out through the seams on the bottom, and when that happens you’ll hear a sizzle, and maybe see some butter leaking on to your pan. This is usually time to pull them out, and let them rest five minutes.

If you’re cooking more than four of these, make sure they are well spaced, and give them a few extra minutes. If I do these for a larger group, I always do a few extra, so I can cut into one and double-check. Don’t worry, it will be our secret.

Anyway, if you’re feeling brave, and want to enjoy something named after a place sort of near where they are holding the Winter Olympics, then I hope you give this amazing chicken Kiev recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

For 4 portions chicken Kiev:

For the butter:
2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley (you can also add tarragon and/or chives)
pinch of salt

4 large (8-oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup flour with 2 tsp salt mixed in
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
vegetable oil for frying, enough for 2-inches in a small pot
*Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until cooked through

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy National Almond Day Eve!

I'm not sure if you've finalized menu plans for tomorrow's big National Almond Day celebration, but just in case you haven't, I hope you'll consider this beautiful almond arugula pesto! 

I know pesto is something that's generally served in the summer, but since arugula is so (too?) easy to find year-round, there's really no need to wait. I hope you give this delicious, and easy condiment a try soon. Enjoy!

Click here to read original post, and to get the ingredient list.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Orange Duck – Orange You Glad I Didn’t Call It Duck a l'Orange?

I don’t think I’ve made Duck “a l'Orange” since culinary school, nor tried to pronounce it, but thanks to a rather enticing photo in a friend’s cookbook, I decided to go full culinary time machine, and I’m so glad I did.

That friend would be award-winning food blogger and author, Hank Shaw. He’s recently published a cookbook called Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild, which was the inspiration for this gorgeous, and very easy dish. Still looking for a sexy Valentine’s entrée? You could do a lot worse.

This is one of those classic dishes that somehow became a cliché, and people stopped making it for fear of looking un-cool, which is too bad, since it’s really good. This is traditionally done with a whole roasted duck, but by using breasts we get pretty much the same results, in a lot less time.

My version is very close to Hank’s, except I don’t use orange juice. I prefer the flavor of the sauce with just marmalade, zest, and Grand Marnier. Speaking of the Grand Marnier, other than other orange liquors, I’ll be offering no alternatives. That’s what literally gives the sauce its soul.

By the way, if you want to raise your “game” game, I encourage you to check out Hank's cookbook. I think it’s very well done, and gets basically all 5-star reviews on Amazon. So, check that out, check this out, and as always enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 portions:
2 duck breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp duck fat or vegetable oil
1 tsp flour
2 tsp grated orange zest
2 tbsp Grand Marnier (orange liquor)
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
pinch of cayenne
1 rounded tbsp orange marmalade (preferably Seville orange marmalade)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
extra zest for garnish

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tiramisu – It Will Pick You Up and Not Let You Down

In addition to being an incredible tasting dessert, Tiramisu also offers the perfect segue when you’re trying to steer the Valentine’s dinner conversation towards spicier subjects. Please feel free to embellish the following history to further enhance the version your sweetheart hears.

Tiramisu was invented in an Italian brothel, where it was a popular snack with customers looking for a little restorative treat after certain strenuous activities. Tiramisu actually means “pick-me-up,” which of course makes it the best culinary double entendre in history.

Besides the great story, it really is the perfect romantic occasion dessert. This heady, mood-elevating concoction is a rich and deeply satisfying, yet remarkably light in texture. I know someone will ask, so yes you can use regular cream cheese, but mascarpone is far superior, and it is Valentine’s Day after all.

As far as the booze goes, I used Marsala, but it also works beautifully with amoretti, rum, brandy, or even Bailey’s. The other key liquid in this is the espresso, and I highly recommend that’s what you use. Regular coffee doesn’t have the same punch. You can use instant, but the last time I checked there was literally a café on every corner of every city.

I did these as two, rather large individual portions, but this could be easily stretched into four cups, or layered in a square baking dish, as is more traditional. Don’t over-think it; no matter what you use, it’s basically three layers of mascarpone mixture around two layers of coffee-dipped ladyfingers. 

They say you can tell how good your Valentine's dessert was, by whether or not you end up also having to cook breakfast. Which reminds me, if you make this, be sure to not use up the last of the eggs. I really hope you give this tiramisu a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
1/2 cup espresso with 2 tbsp Marsala wine for dipping cookies
10 or 12 ladyfinger cookies, broken in half if making cups
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese (6 oz)
2 large egg whites
cocoa for dusting
dark chocolate for shaving

Saturday, February 8, 2014

That Other Meat Sauce

We did a classic Italian bolognese sauce not too long ago, which reminded me that I’ve actually never posted a basic, Italian-American meat sauce. This sauce goes by many names, including Sunday sauce, since that’s the day it’s traditionally made, but for me growing up, this was just called “sauce.”

This is one of those primal recipes that always follows the same procedure, yet almost never contains exactly the same ingredients. I was raised on a blend of beef, pork, and chicken, but any and all leftover proteins can, and must, be added to the pot.

Meatballs are a great choice; as are things like pigs feet, neck bones, and other similar cuts. The tougher the meat, the better it’s going to be in this sauce. Besides playing meat roulette, I’ll also switch different herbs like basil in and out, as well as include the occasional season vegetable.

You can also vary your results here with different tomato products. I went old-school and hand-crushed whole plums, but you can also use crushed or pureed tomatoes as well. The finer and smoother the tomatoes are processed, the thicker your sauce will be, so keep that in mind. Speaking of tomatoes; yes, it is much better to caramelize the tomato paste with the onions before you add the San Marzanos, but I didn't because Grandma didn't, and also, I forgot. 

As long as you cook the meat long enough, and season thoughtfully, there’s really no way this sauce isn’t going to be great. So, while you may not have grown up in an Italian-American home, with this comforting sauce simmering on the stove every Sunday, your family still can. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 beef shank
2 pounds pork ribs
2 bone-in chicken thighs
1 diced onion
6 cloves garlic
3 (28-oz) cans San Marzano plum tomatoes, crushed or blended smooth
(Note - any canned tomato product will work. Try with pureed or already crushed tomatoes and save a step)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups water, more as needed
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Next Up: Meat Sauce

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Don’t Let the Name Fool You

The major problem with this cauliflower pizza crust is that there’s already something called pizza. If you’d never heard about pizza before, and someone served this to you, I think you’d really enjoy it. 

Unfortunately, we’ve all had pizza before, and so this will invariably be compared to the awesomeness of the real thing. You know, sort of like what happens to deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza (said the New Yorker).

Regardless, this was very tasty, pleasantly textured, and contains almost no carbs – in case you’re into one of those alternative lifestyles. For the cheese, I decided on goat after seeing this recipe on Detoxinista. All kinds of cheeses are used for this technique, usually mozzarella and something else, but I figured the tart chèvre would best simulate the fermented dough of a classic pizza.

Another important tip is to make sure you use parchment paper. Because of the moisture and cheese, this stuff can stick to foil, but nothing sticks to parchment, which is obviously a key here. You can find it next to the foil and plastic wraps in any large grocery store. 

Texture aside, the flavor of this final product was very pizza-like, and I’ll be doing further experiments to be sure. By the way, if you have a version that’s clearly superior to this one, feel free to share. Otherwise, I hope you give this cauliflower crust pizza a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one 10-inch pizza crust:
1 head cauliflower (about 3 packed cups ground)
1/2 cup water
- Cook cauliflower with water for 5-6 minutes, let cool, and squeeze out ALL water with a towel. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of dry cauliflower pulp left.
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about a 1-1/2 inch square grated)
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
cayenne to taste
1 large egg

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pan-Roasted Halibut with Clamshell Mushrooms & Lemon Butter Sauce – Long in Name, Short in Shopping List

Above and beyond keeping things simple, and pardon the cliché, letting the natural goodness of the ingredients shine through, the beauty of a recipe like this pan-roasted halibut with clamshell mushrooms, is that there are just less things to possibly screw up. 

That should be great news to people terrified of making fish recipes. Brown some mushrooms, sear some fish, and finish with yet another simple and delicious pan sauce. That’s really it, and much like our famous, “Just Chicken and Mushrooms” recipe, I think you’ll be amazed at how much flavor these few components provide.

Speaking of flavor, you can certainly use a non-stick pan here, which pretty much insures your fish will go un-mutilated; but as you’ll see in the video, if you use cast iron, or stainless steel, a little bit of fish flesh will form a fond on the bottom of the pan, which will give you a much richer base for the butter sauce.

In case you didn't already know, mushrooms and halibut have a natural affinity for each other, and both are wonderful with the lemon-parsley butter sauce. So, whether you fear cooking fish, or not, I hope you give this super simple, yet fabulous recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 portions:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter, melted in oil
2 (7-oz each) halibut filets
salt and cayenne to taste
handful of clamshell mushrooms, or sliced un-cool, regular mushrooms
1/4 cup water
juice from 1/2 lemon, or to taste
1 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 tbsp butter to finish sauce

Sunday, February 2, 2014

You’re Welcome, America!

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks, and to everyone who won money betting on them using our never-fail chicken wing bone prediction! Incredibly, that makes 48 Super Bowls in a row that the bones have been correct! I realize that’s very hard to believe, but in fairness, lots of things are very hard to believe. 

Anyway, you’re more than welcome, and if you did win big, please feel free to break me off a little something. These chicken wings don’t pay for themselves! ;) Enjoy!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Food Wishes' Chicken Wing Collection

Just in case you haven't decided on a chicken wing for tomorrow's Super Bowl party, maybe this will help. Here, for the first time, we've pulled together every single Food Wishes' chicken wing recipe into one, convenient post. Enjoy!

Jerk Chicken Wings

In the spirit of full disclosure, these will be the wings I'll be enjoying for the game.

Garlic Parm Hot Wings

If casual dinning restuarants have taught us anything, it's that people love garlic-parm whatever.

Original Buffalo Chicken Wings

There's no way to prove this is the original recipe, which is a probably good thing.

Clifton Springs Chicken Wings

By far, our most popular and highest-rated chicken wing recipe.

Pastrami Chicken Wings

Sure, pastrami sandwiches are awesome, but they don't have any bones! Now, these on the other hand. 

Spicy Orange Chicken Wings

I can't say who I stole this spicy orange glaze from, but it rhymes with "Panda Express." 

Peanut Butter & Pepper Jelly Chicken Wings

This is no gimmick! Okay, it is, but it's an incredibly delicious gimmick.

Sweet and Hot Mustard-Glazed Chicken Wings

Hey, there's a reason honey-mustard is the second most popular chicken nugget sauce in the world.