Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post at Just Prepare It Deliciously: Old School Movie Popcorn

Old School Movie Popcorn

Today is the first Monday of the summer! Did you see any movies over this past weekend? If so, I bet you ate something that has become synonymous with movie going: Popcorn. I believe the snack has gotten an undeserved reputation of being unhealthy, so when Rose of Just Prepare It Deliciously asked me to write a guest post for her, I seized the opportunity to demonstrate how quick and healthy popcorn can be. Rose started her website, in part, to hold herself accountable to execute at least 1 new recipe each week. She and I differ because she primarily profiles weeknight meals so check out our contrasting styles. In addition to her blog, please 'Like' her facebook page, and/or follow her on twitter, pinterest, and G+.

The Challenge

Sucessfully execute a dish for someone else while leaving a good impression on their readers.

The Source, Ingredients and Method

...can all be found at Just Prepare It Deliciously.


Once again, I'm not able to determine this on my own.

Finally, did you see last night's episode of Next Food Network Star? I'm not surprised that Lovely was eliminated and was pleasantly surprised this post fit in so well with this week's theme. My lingering question continues to be where's Bob and Susie? I'm bewildered by their absence and amazed the authority to eliminate contestants has been given to Bobby, Giada and Alton.

In addition, Food Network's Star Salvation which is their version of Last Chance Kitchen, the four eliminated contestants faced each other again with Danushka and Lovely left standing. I'll continue to monitor it until Danushka gets eliminated again.

Speaking of Food Network in general, their decision to not renew Paula Deen's contract upon expiration made sense from a business standpoint. Her admission of the racist slur she used in the past was just the most recent controversy. (Remember the diabetes uproar 18 months ago?) I think her missed appointment with Matt Lauer to explain herself was the last straw so to speak. What will be interesting to watch is the fate of her other endorsements, not to mention her newest cookbook that was scheduled to be published later this year. Time will tell.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Potato Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon

Potato Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon

Surfing the net one evening, I came across this YouTube video published by the Culinary Institute of America that caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, it featured Gary Danko. You might not know the name, but he owns a restaurant that bears his name in San Francisco which was awarded a Michelin Star in 2007 (the first year Michelin Guides started reviewing restaurants in the San Francisco/Napa area) and has maintained it every year since. Secondly, my curiosity was piqued because the dish sounded peculiar because I was thinking why would the dish have two starches: rice and potatoes? As I watched the video, I noted Chef Danko substituting potatoes for the Arborio rice.

The Challenge

Apply the risotto method to a rice substitute.

The Source

I adapted the recipe found on, but I used the YouTube video noted above as a guide. Chef Danko noted that sautéed mushrooms can be added but didn't demonstrate it so I used the mushroom component from the mushroom risotto I published this past February.


4 ounces bacon (approximately 4 slices), cut into batons, then each baton cut in half
2 shallots, minced and divided
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces white button mushrooms
3/4 cup white wine divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 russet potatoes (approximately 1 pound each) cut into a brunoise
3-4 cups chicken stock, brought to a gentle simmer
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon chives, minced


1. Prepare your risotto flavorings: Add the bacon to a medium sauté pan and place over medium heat. Cook the bacon, rendering it's fat until crisp, approximately 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon to a towel lined plate. Increase the heat, then add garlic and half of the chopped shallots to the rendered bacon fat. Cook until translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until wilted. Deglaze with 1/2 cup white wine and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over high heat until the wine has absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sweat the remaining shallots until soft and add the potatoes. Deglaze the pan with white wine and stir until evaporated. Add the warm stock, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring occasionally-ensuring the potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan and brown. Continue the process of adding stock and stirring until the potatoes are al dente.

2. Reduce heat to low and stir in the butter and Parmigiano, then remove from heat and fold in the mushrooms and bacon. Spoon into warmed serving bowls. Garnish with chives and black pepper, then serve immediately.


Readers that have been following me for a while might remember I struggled with a risotto I published about a year ago. If only I could have encountered this dish then because my appetite to alter a risotto would have been satisfied with this version. This dish's preparation difficulty is solidly at an intermediate level and I would recommend it only after you're familiar with a standard risotto method. (A good example is the mushroom risotto I referred to above.) I can also see the appeal of this dish to a culinary instructor because it highlights the importance of a evenly cut brunoise. Some of my potatoes were uneven in shape so I some potatoes were more al dente than others. (I feared the smaller pieces would dissolve into the risotto.) The dish was strangely reminiscent of a loaded baked potato or a hash but ultimately, both Mrs. Stuntman and I enjoyed this dish and she requested I prepare it again.

In other news, since I published two dishes before it aired on Sunday I didn't have an opportunity to discuss the most recent episode of Next Food Network Star. I'm obviously pleased Danushka has left the competition but let's look at the remaining contestants:

My early prediction of Nikki still stands but Chad has started to grow on me. I evaluate these contestants by answering the question which contestant's TV show would I regularly watch? He has yet to have a negative evaluation and his POV is the most easily marketable across the country with wide appeal. I'd also like to see him contrasted with Bobby Flay because there is a difference between barbecue and grilling, despite the fact that the two terms are incorrectly used interchangeably. To round out my top three, I'd pick Stacey just because she has performed consistently well up until the most recent episode.

My middle three are:

Damaris: She been inconsistent in presentations.
Lovely: She has camera presence but I hate her POV.
Chris: because he has a relatable underdog story, as we discovered this week.

That leaves my bottom three of:

Viet: He doesn't have much to say beyond his victory over Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America.
Rodney (the pie guy): I'm intrigued by his POV but doesn't appear to have the culinary expertise to execute it.
Russell: In this country where it's population is increasingly demanding healthier foods, his POV will be a tough sell and he doesn't have the charisma to keep an audience interested.

Am I wrong? Comment below.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

#recipesfromtheheart Arugula Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms plus a Giveaway!

Arugula Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Huh? Two dishes within hours of each other? What's going on here?

Today's event is being hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita's Cocina. They teamed up with their blogger friends to help raise awareness and support for Cancer and Hospice today in memory of Kim's dad. We encourage everyone to read the posts and share their own experiences with cancer. We also would like to encourage everyone to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society and also to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. Hospice was a key element during Kim's father's battle with cancer. They made it possible for Kim to care for him at home. So please show your support and donate if you can. You can also contact your local Hospice and donate directly to them if you wish. A little goes a long way!

If you wish, call it a side dish for the beer can chicken I published earlier. Oh, and there's a giveaway too! Details are below.

If I can be candid for a moment. I struggled with this for a while conceptually, but I committed to participate because I admire Kim so much. I have been lucky because my family hasn't had anyone die of cancer within my lifetime, because an easy way to relate a dish to cancer is to profile one that a victim loved. I finally found direction when I did some research on my own. The American Cancer Society noted that everyone should eat healthy but the importance is amplified for cancer patients. It recommends a diet of plant based foods, especially foods of varying colors, so I thought this salad would be perfect.

The Source

Taken from page 203 of Fabio's Italian Kitchen by Fabio Viviani with Melanie Rehak.


3 cups baby arugula
1 cup sundried tomatoes, coarsely julienned
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced thin
10 leaves fresh basil
1/2 cantaloupe, flesh scooped with a melon baller
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Whisk together both vinegars with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and dress with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Important Information, Other Participating Bloggers and Giveaway Details

We are hosting a pinchatlive event on Saturday June 22 at 2 pm EST. The event will be live on G+ and also on Pinterest. You can join us by following along on G+ Hangouts on Air, and also by following the Pinterest Board #recipesfromtheheart. The winner of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer and Ice Cream Attachment will be announced live. There are bonus prizes up for grabs during the pinchatlive for those who participate in it. We're giving away 1 Vanilla Infused Box Set, 1 Lemon Infused Box Set and a $30 Amazon Gift Card. So make sure you join us for this event!

Before I get to the giveaway details, please check out the other participating bloggers in this special event:

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Home-made Strawberry Topping by Cravings of a Lunatic
Chili Verde by Juanita's Cocina
S'Mores Brownies in Jars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins by The Dutch Baker's Daughter
Boston Cream Pie by Pass The Sushi
My Fathers Day Recipe Round Up by Curry and Comfort
Tropical Smoothie by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
Mini Gugelhupf by Masala Herb
Sauteed Strawberry and Sugarsnap Salad by Cook The Story
Cranberry Cashew Breakfast Muffins by In Fine Balance
Arugula Salad with Sundried Tomatoes and Mushrooms by Crazy Foodie Stunts
Spicy Beef Sliders by Katie's Cucina
Thai Red Curry Soup by Damn Delicious
Suman (Sweet Rice and Banana Leaves) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Fresh Vegetable Salad by White Lights on Wednesday
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Sundae by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Cinnamon Chip Cookie Butter Bars by The Messy Baker
Berry/Cherry Fro-Yo Ice Cream by Cookistry
Honey Beer Bread by Hungry Couple
Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Pancakes by The Spiffy Cookie
Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars by Sweet Remedy
Cookies and Cream Brownies by Cooking in Stilettos
Blueberry Lemon Cake by Roxana's Home Baking
Angel Cake by Ninja Baking
Knit (or crocheted) Grey Brain Cancer Mustache Pin by Knit, Purl, Damn!

Enter for your chance to Win an Artisan® Series KitchenAid®  Stand Mixer in the color of your choice (there are 26 to choose from) as well as an Ice Cream Maker Attachment. A sweet choice for all,  this creative attachment features the largest ice cream bowl capacity in the industry. Prepare 2 quarts of ice cream, sorbet, gelato or other frozen desserts. We're pleased to announce the giveaway is open to Canadian residents, as well as U.S. Residents. Winner will be chosen and announced during the pinchatlive event, described below. Winner will also be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond another winner will be chosen. 1 Stand Mixer and 1 Ice Cream Attachment are being given away as a group, not 1 per blog just to be clear for our readers. 

There are bonus prizes for the pinchatlive event. We are giving away 1 Vanilla Infused Gift Box Set, 1 Lemon Infused Gift Box Set and a $30 Amazon Gift Card.  In order to participate in this event follow the Pinterest Board #recipesfromtheheart. Hop on the Pinterest board on June 22 at 2 pm Est to follow along. We'll ask questions and those who comment are entered to win the bonus prizes. There will be a G+ Hangout on Air during the event as well. Winners of the pinchatlive event must be Canadian or U.S. residents.
Visit and click on the “More than a Mixer” tab to explore all 12 attachments available for the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beer Can Chicken for a Father's Day #SundaySupper

Beer Can Chicken

Happy Father's Day!

This dish is one of my all-time favorites. I love beer can chickens for several reasons:

1) They are great fun for backyard barbecues in the summer. What's funnier than a chicken with a can of beer up it's backside?
2) When prepared properly, it tastes great and the meat is juicy.
3) The preparation is simple which frees you to focus on your side dishes.

For a while, it made it into my regular rotation of dinners (I prepared one once or twice per month), but I haven't prepared it as frequently in recent months because I don't have a grill. The principles are still the same. I brine the chicken beforehand to add flavor and moisture.

The Challenge

Adapt a traditionally grilled dish so it is prepared in the oven

The Source

The ingredients are a Foodie Stuntman original, but I was helped along with the method from


4 quarts cold water
1 cup sugar
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 whole fryer chicken, (I used a 5-pound bird)
1 12-fluid ounce can cheap beer
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon each of fresh herbs


1. Brine the chicken: Add 1 cup sugar and salt to water and stir until dissolved. Place the chicken in an 8 quart (or larger) container and pour the brine over the chicken. (You might need to put something on top of the chicken to keep it fully submerged.) Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight.

2. Season and cook the chicken: Remove one rack from the oven and place the other on the lowest level possible. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub the olive oil into the skin of the bird on all sides. Combine the salt, pepper and herbs into a bowl and rub underneath the skin of the breast, inside the cavity and on the skin on all sides.

Remove the top of the can of beer with a can opener and discard about one-third of the beer (or drink it). Add the red pepper flakes and a couple of leftover sprigs of herbs into the beer. Put the beer on a baking sheet and position the chicken over the beer so that the opening of the can is inserted into the cavity of the chicken so that the chicken stands upright. Tuck the wingtips behind the breasts similar to how you would truss the chicken. Place the chicken in the oven and cook until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching the bone) reaches 175° Fahrenheit, approximately 75 minutes to 90 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes to allow for carryover cooking. Carve and serve.


I chose to keep the brine simple but you can flavor it with other ingredients if you wish. You might also wonder why I didn't specify which herbs I used to season the chicken. I had leftover herbs from the chimichurri sauce but it can vary with whatever is on hand at the time you prepare the chicken. Also, freeze the leftover carcass to make some chicken stock.

Other Sunday Supper Participants

And finally, please check out this week's other Sunday Supper contributors:

Dad’s Favorite Main Dishes:
Dad’s Favorite Appetizers and Sides:
Dad’s Favorite Desserts

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Light Stunt: Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

I prepared this dish out of curiosity, more than anything. I had seen it prepared by a number of Food Network personalities and even a local TV journalist put one on her personal blog. Chimichurri sauce originates from Argentina and traditionally pairs with grilled beef but can also be paired with chicken, fish or used as a marinade. From the recipe, I could determine that it's similar to a Genovese pesto with similar ingredients (raw herbs, garlic and oil) but I also noted that, because this sauce is served cool, it would be a refreshing contrast to grilled proteins.

The Source

The sauce was taken from page 26 of the recipe guide of Top Chef University DVD set.


1 flank steak, about 2 pounds
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 shallot, peeled and chopped roughly
1 small clove garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 pinch lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 bunch fresh chives
1/4 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1. Remove flank steak from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, no more than 30 minutes. Pat the steak dry with paper towels and season it with salt and pepper. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Sear the steak over the grill about 6 minutes per side for medium rare, but check for doneness.
Once the proper temperature has been reached, remove and set aside for 5 minutes to allow for carryover cooking.

2. While the steak is resting, blend the shallot, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon olive oil in a blender until the ingredients form a smooth paste. Add the herbs with the red pepper flakes and pulse until the herbs are chopped and the mixture forms a textured pureé. Add the oil and blend until the sauce is emulsified. All of the remaining oil may or may not be needed. To plate, slice the flank steak across the grain and serve topped with the sauce.


I had a little difficulty categorizing this dish because I originally planned to just practice my presentation skills, but I also noted how quickly the dish came together which would make it perfect fir a weeknight meal.

In other news, did you see episode two of Next Food Network Star? I have a couple of questions: 1) Where was Bob and Susie this week? 2) How is Danushka still competing? The only explanation I can offer is that her burger was better than her competitors this week. I like the format of the challenge because it forced the contestants to effectively communicate their message but I was a little bored by the topic of burgers.

What are your thoughts? Reply in the comments.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sole Meunière

Sole Meunière

I had a taste of summer in the last week locally with the weather getting warmer. It's been a struggle for me this year because I miss my grill. I do have a grill pan but it's not the same because, while I can still prepare grilled food, I can't cook in hot weather without heating up the kitchen. Sure there's dishes I can prepare such as ceviche and Vichyssoise but both you and I would get pretty bored quickly.

One way I've been able to beat the heat is to prepare lighter dishes. In reading Manuela of Manu's Menu post of a sole meunière dish recently, I was reminded of seeing the dish in Chef Bastianich's cookbook.

The Challenge

Prepare a dish that will soften the blow of not having a grill at my disposal.

The Source

Pages 132-134 of Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali. I had to paraphrase Chef's Bastianich method because I find her style too wordy.


5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
6 fillets gray or lemon sole (approximately 2 1/2 pounds)
All-purpose flour
5 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
12 slices lemon, thinmy sliced (approximately 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsly, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 250° Fahrenheit. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the fillets in the flour and sear them in the oil, in batches if necessary, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side. Remove them from the pan and place them on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

2. Remove the oil from the pan and melt add the remaining butter and oilve oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon slices and cook until lightly browned. Add the capers to heat through, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil, then reduce by half. Add the stock, return to a boil until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 2 minutes, then season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. To plate, spoon the sauce over the fillets, then garnih with lemon slices and parsley.


If I were to prepare this dish again, I'd season the fillets with salt and pepper. Overall, it was still pretty tasty, however I still haven't filled the void. I also couldn't help but notice the similarities of this dish with the piccata di pollo.

In unrelated news, have you seen the first episode of the new season of Next Food Network Star? I almost consider this show more difficult than others such as Top Chef because the contestants need to have a marketable point-of-view, be likable, and able to communicate it to an audience in addition to culinary expertise. It is for this reason that I think Nikki is the early favorite to win, since she has experience in both. Who do I want to win? Not sure yet. Need to see more.