I’m not sure when or where I started reheating leftover pizza using this stovetop method, but it’s one of my favorite kitchen shortcuts of all time. By the way, since I don’t remember learning this from anyone, I’ll assume I invented it. So, if you’ve been actually been doing this for years, and know many others who do the same, please keep it to yourself, and just let me have my moment. There are so many advantages to using this method. There’s no insufferable wait for an oven to preheat (10 minutes in real time is 45 minutes in “I have the munchies” time); you don’t waste all that extra energy (you’re welcome, Planet Earth); and most important of all, you get Read more...

They say smell is the sense most closely linked to memory recall, and that was certainly the case while making these garlicky, buttery bay scallops on toast. As waves of the wonderful aromas wafted up from the pan, they brought back a flood of vivid memories of my first real kitchen job. Barely a teenager, I was hired as a dishwasher at an Italian steakhouse, called The Depot (pictured below is the train station that predated the restaurant). While it was fun being inside a bustling kitchen, washing dishes was anything but. By comparison, what I saw the line cooks doing looked like the greatest job ever, and this certainly played a role in my future career plans. Anyway, there was Read more...

This black bean soup saved me during a recent attack of, “Oh my God, there is nothing in kitchen to cook with!” Even though it sometimes seems that way, there’s rarely, literally nothing to cook with. I quickly found a few slices of bacon, a couple cans of beans, and an onion, and with the help of a spicy lime and green onion relish, turned it into a very decent bowl of soup. It got me thinking about all those long shelf life, must-have pantry and fridge staples you can count on to produce a meal when lacking supplies. My short list is olive oil, beans, pasta, bacon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, eggs, tomato sauce, anchovies, salami, capers, garlic, onions, potatoes, and fresh Read more...

These bacon ranch chicken skewers were intended to star at your next football tailgate cookout, but since these are made with sharp, wooden sticks, they could be used to inflict the true death to smaller, slow-moving vampires at your Halloween party as well. Regardless of your party’s theme, these tasty chicken skewers are easy, interesting, and incredibly adaptable. As I sometimes do when showing a new technique, I’ve kept this recipe ultra-simple, and only used ranch dressing and hot pepper as my marinade. I was hoping that as you watched, your mind would be racing with ideas on how to make this already delicious meat-on-a-stick even more amazing. This is the kind of thing Read more...

As promised, here is the cream cheese frosting recipe that co-starred in our red velvet cupcakes video last week. If you’re a regular cake baker, you may be wondering why a video is even necessary for such a simple frosting? I used to think like that. When I posted the red velvet recipe on YouTube, and teased the fact that I’d show the frosting in a future video, I was instantly met with a huge wave of panicked comments, all having a similar message; something to the effect of, “When the hell is the frosting video being shown? I want it now. I need it now. Give it to me now!” So, not wanting an angry mob of people waving pitchforks and unfrosted cupcakes in front of my Read more...

I don’t make a lot of cupcakes, but since I’ve always been fascinated by the red velvet cake, I decided to try a version based on this venerable American classic.  I’ve gotten so many requests for cupcakes and red velvet cakes that I figured I’d kill two food wishes with one video. They came out really well, and as I tasted, I actually caught myself daydreaming about being on Top Chef Just Desserts. I imagined I’d furiously finished frosting these red velvet cupcakes just as time expired (I think the faux-hawked prima donna with the Jacques Torres tattoo next to me hid the cream cheese to screw me over). I bring them up to the judge’s table, and watch as the lovely Gail Read more...

This sausage country gravy recipe comes from a time before cooks tried to think of ways to trim a few calories, but rather, thought of ways to sneak more calories into a dish. This was a meal that was meant to fill you up and keep you satisfied for a long time.

In addition to the astronomically high calorie count, another advantage of a milk gravy that’s been thickened with a roux made from the rendered fat of meat scraps, is it’s very cheap. So, when you combine “cheap,” with “filling,” and “delicious,” you have all the makings of a diner classic, which this certainly is.

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While Canadian Japanese fusion cuisine may not actually be the most popular dining trend right now, this tasty combination of cultures suggests maybe we should explore this further. The salty and very savory miso paste is a perfect match for the sweet Canadian sap. The rice vinegar marries the two, and a few drops of hot sauce are all you need to complete this incredibly easy, yet sophisticated preparation.

Cooking fish this way is virtually foolproof, and will take less than 15 minutes start to finish. As you’ll see, by searing the fish briefly in the pan before going under the broiler, the filets will cook much faster and more evenly. This is the perfect recipe for beginners to get over their fear of cooking fish, and will work with a wide array of seafood.
When I told Michele I was making a grilled chicken recipe using a jar of chilies from Calabria, she said, “Well, you’ll have to call it stubborn chicken then!” We both laughed. You see, when Michele first met my father, John, he asked her what part of Italy her family was from. When she answered, “Calabria,” he said, “Oh, so you’re really stubborn.”

Michele laughed, and agreed that she was, but asked what that had to do with being Calabrian. My father explained that where he was from, “Calabrese” was jokingly used as a term for a stubborn person, apparently stemming from an inappropriate, yet possibly accurate stereotype.

Far from being insulted, Michele embraced this revelation, and it’s been a source of pride ever since. I know, that’s so Calabrese. Anyway, now that I’ve taken three paragraphs to explain the inside joke with the title, I can finally get to this recipe.

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A friend sent me a nice note recently that his wife had made these pumpkin pancakes for dinner, and that they were thoroughly enjoyed by all. I always appreciate those kinds of messages, especially since they often serve as a reminder for doing seasonally appropriate recipe re-posts.

This was the week pumpkin made its yearly appearance into my life. On restaurant menus, on television, in store windows, on neighbors’ steps, and all over our living room…and dining room…and kitchen…and, well, you get the idea. So, to celebrate the beloved American gourd, I decided to rerun this tasty winter treat. Enjoy!