Food Wishes Video Recipes

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27 - OCT - 2008

The Best Grilled Ham and Cheese Ever

30 - OCT - 2008

A Sexy, Spanish-Inspired Sneek Preview

02 - NOV - 2008

Great Grandma C's Pane di Granoturco

16 - JUN - 2010

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies!

21 - JUN - 2010

This Pan-Fried Butter Beans Recipe Only Sounds Unhealthy!

22 - JUN - 2010

Favorite Photos from the Food & Wine Classic

13 - NOV - 2011

Turkey Noodle Casserole

05 - DEC - 2011

Merguez Sausage & Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

27 - DEC - 2011

Roast Tenderloin of Beef with Porcini

11 - JAN - 2012

Spicy Peanut Butter & Pepper Jelly Chicken Wings


I’m not a huge dessert fan, so it was a little ironic that the first few things I ever cooked at culinary school were sweet, not savory. It was too long ago to remember why, but I think we divided the class into different groups for our lab times, and I just happened to be in the one that started with basic baking.

I distinctly remember sticky buns being the first recipe we did, but the second one was a pineapple upside-down cake. It’s such a cool recipe for a new culinary student, since it just looks like a simple, rustic fruit cobbler when it comes out of the oven, all browned and bubbling, but a few minutes later, when it’s turned over and that gloriously caramelized surface is revealed, it becomes so much more.

As I basked in the shiny glow of this iconic American dessert, not only did I feel like maybe I knew what I was doing, but I had edible proof sitting right there on the table. Of course, what I’m not telling you is that most of my pineapple slices stuck to the pan, and I had to piece it all back together before the chef came over to see my work, but all’s well that ends well.

I was actually kind of hoping that would happen here, so I could demonstrate how easy it is to simply put all your “puzzle pieces” back in place. So relax. Once the cake cools, no one will be able to tell the difference. As long as the syrup is warm, your reconstruction will be fine.

I may be in the minority, but I don’t like to top this with anything. Of course vanilla or coconut ice cream would be fine, or maybe a dollop of whipped cream, but for my tastes, “as is” works best. Anyway, I hope you give this classic pineapple upside-down cake a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for a 9-inch skillet:
For the pineapple base:
4 tbsp butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp pineapple juice
1 tbsp dark rum
1/2 small pineapple, trimmed, sliced (see video below)
For the batter:
1/2 cup melted brown butter (works same w/ regular melted butter)
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1⁄2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1⁄2 cup milk

How to Prep a Pineapple

As Promised, here's a video on how to peel and slice a pineapple from my friends at Allrecipes. Enjoy!



Let me start by saying that these garlic Parmesan dinner rolls were really great – crusty and cheesy on the outside, tender and garlicky inside, and visually gorgeous. Ironically, it’s that last adjective that may cause problems.

These looks so inviting, so tasty, and so beautiful that it’s almost impossible not to be let down when you bite into one of these and realize it’s just a dinner roll. It’s a great dinner roll, a special dinner roll, but a dinner roll nonetheless.

As I said in the video, when the towel is pulled back (we call that, “breadbasket burlesque” in the business), and these lovelies are finally revealed, your guest’s eyes will send messages to their stomachs to get ready for something way more awesome than a dinner roll.

So, this becomes a classic case of having to manage expectations. You need to make sure your diners know this is a humble bread bun, not some mini calzone, or other stuffed wonder of modern baking.

Anyway, it’s a great problem to have. So the next time you want something a little above and beyond the plain roll, I hope you give these a try. By the way, the leftover rolls make about the best salami sandwich, ever. Enjoy!

1 package dry active yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 cups flour, divided (add 1/2 cup to the sponge, and the rest as shown). 
NOTE: Don't add all the flour at once. Add some, and continue adding until your dough looks like mine. You may need more flour as you go for the board.
1/2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp fine salt
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
freshly, finely grated Parmesan, as needed
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp freshly chopped Italian parsley
black pepper and cayenne to taste
*Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes


I know I may have used a few atypical ingredients in this, but as far as I’m concerned, the only two things that are mandatory to make a “real” Shepherd’s Pie are potatoes and lamb. While the ground beef version is also very delicious, it’s not considered a “Shepherd’s Pie,” since shepherds raise sheep, not cows.

The real mystery is why the beef version is called “Cottage Pie,” and not “Cowboy Pie,” or “Rancher’s Pie.” When I think about cattle, many things come to mind, but cottages aren’t one of them. Okay, now that we have all those search keywords inserted, we can moooo’ve on.

By the way, I know it’s something of a Food Wishes tradition that I do a cheap, culturally insensitive joke about Irish-Americans drinking too much in our St. Patrick’s Day video, but this year I decided not to do any. In fairness, I know hundreds of Irish people, and several of them have no drinking problem whatsoever, so it just didn’t seem inappropriate.

Anyway, as I say in the video, this would make a lovely alternative to the much more common corned beef and cabbage that you may have been planning for dinner. Also, I really hope you find some nice Irish cheddar. I used one called “Dubliner” by Kerrygold, which can be found in most large grocery stores.

If you’re curious about beverage pairings, may I go out on a limb and suggest a nice Guinness, or other Irish beer…just hold the green food coloring, please. Erin go bragh, and as always, enjoy!

For lamb mixture:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 diced onion
2 pounds lean ground lamb
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp ketchup
2 1/2 cups water or broth (use more or less to adjust thickness as needed)
12 oz bag frozen peas and carrots, thawed, drained well

For the potato topping:
2 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 pound Irish cheddar
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tbsp milk


There are few food folks I enjoy and respect more than Michael Ruhlman. He’s a celebrated, award-winning author; an influential and generous member of the food blogging community; and my favorite Iron Chef judge (best perplexed look in the biz). 

However, in this amusing “Had Something to Say” video, produced by friends Diane and Todd from White on Rice, Mr. Ruhlman reminded me why, when it comes to cooking at least, being right isn’t as important as being happy.

Everything Michael says about the rounded wooden spoon’s design in this “Stupid Kitchen Tools” video is correct. A squared-off, flat-edged wooden spoon is the superior stirring implement, but that doesn’t change the fact that my mother used a rounded wooden spoon, which was the same one that my grandmother used, which was exactly like the one that my great grandmother used.

So for me, it looks right, feels good in my hand, and contrary to what Mr. Ruhlman believes, serves as the perfect tasting instrument – lovingly associated with all kinds of delicious memories. I’m sorry, but tasting spaghetti sauce off a square wooden spoon is like a chef using oven mitts instead of kitchen towels; it works, but it’s just not a great look.

Squares and right angles are the work of man. It’s the shape of industry, not art. Nature is round, food is round, and people are, well, you know. Cooking equipment, like life itself, is much more about what you want, than about what you need. Our brains may grab for the square wooden spoon, but the soul of a cook reaches out for the rounded one every time. What say you?

Sincere thanks to Michael Ruhlman, and to Todd & Diane for sharing this great video with us! You can follow this link to get more information and read their original post. Enjoy!


When people make breakfast at home that includes some kind of potato side dish, they almost always go with homefries over hash browns. I’m not sure of exactly why, but I think people assume that hash browns are somehow more difficult, which is simply not the case.

Grating a couple potatoes is not that much harder than cubing them up, and the cooking process is almost identical. If anything, hash browns cook faster than homefries, and in this chef’s opinion are the superior breakfast potatoes. They are crisper, more interesting, and absorb runny egg yolk like homefries can only dream about.

One thing to note when you look at the ingredients below: this is a scalable recipe, with one medium-sized russet potato portioned per person. If you're going to make this for a larger group, you’ll want to use several pans, as you need enough room to get the proper crustification.

Speaking of russets, the potato variety is much more important here than with homefries. Just about any potato will work for those, but for hash browns you need the starchy texture of the russet, as opposed to the waxier texture of red potatoes. By the way, Yukon gold also works okay, but russet is the best.

Anyway, the next time your cooking a proper breakfast at home, I hope you give these “other” breakfast potatoes a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients per person:
1 medium russet potato, grated
1 1/2 tbsp clarified butter (melted butter separated from the milky liquid)
salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika to taste