a food blog by samwellsphoto.com

Archive for 'recipes'

March 13, 2015

Hummus is awesome, but it can be expensive. The ingredients are so cheap and the process is so simple, that I refuse to buy it at the store. Plus, if I make it, I get the luxury of leaving out the ingredients I can’t pronounce. I’ve been experimenting with different hummus recipes, and this was one of my favorites. I roasted a big tray of bell peppers and garlic to use throughout the week, and used some for this recipe.

If you have a pressure cooker, you can cook your beans in half the time. I like to overcook them a little so they become creamy when blended in the food processor.

  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup roasted bell peppers
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves
  • 1/2 caramelized onion
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  1. Soak beans overnight. Drain water and rinse beans. Cover beans with fresh water. Bring to boil and reduce to low heat. Cook for 40 min.
  2. Roast peppers in an oven at 350 for 30 min. Put in bowl and cover with clear wrap and let cool. The clear wrap will trap steam and separate the skins from the meat of the pepper. Peel off skins. (you can also buy jarred roasted peppers)
  3. On low heat, caramelize onions until golden but not burnt. You can add the garlic with the onions if you don’t want to roast them in the oven.
  4. In food processor, blend garbanzo beans, roasted peppers, garlic, onion, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth. Add a little more olive oil or lemon juice if it’s too dry. Season to taste.
  5. Top with leftover roasted peppers and caramelized onions. You can also sprinkle smoked paprika on top for more flavor.
March 2, 2015

Every Fall I tend to get a little carried away and I buy a ton of pumpkins and squash. They are so cheap and they last the entire winter if you take care of them properly. This year I got some unique ones I’ve never tried before. One memorable one was called Musque de Provence. I bought a huge 15 lb one at the farmer’s market for $8, and it turned out to be the most delicious pumpkin I ever ate. I tried to find more to photograph, but all were sold out. I ended up getting a ton of different varieties, and we are eating the last of them this time of year.

It might seem a bit overwhelming cooking a huge pumpkin because then you have to eat a huge pumpkin, but don’t worry because it freezes perfectly. Just cut it into chunks and boil it in a huge pot. Then puree the chunks and pour into wide mouth mason jars. One quart is perfect for pumpkin soup for 2 people, and 1 pint is the perfect amount for making bread or pancakes. Freeze and use over the next few months. Do NOT freeze standard mouth jars because they break easily, and definitely do not freeze 1/2 gallon mason jars because they definitely break. After several mistakes, I only freeze liquids in a quart and pint wide mouth mason jars.

Storing them is very important. You need to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place with plenty of airflow in between. Make sure to check over the entire surface for areas that might rot or are already rotting. If you suspect anything might go bad, just eat it as soon as you can to keep the rest clean. I don’t have a root cellar in CA, but if you have one, I’m jealous and you should use that to store them.

Here is the recipe for 15 small pancakes.


  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardomom


  • 1.5 cup milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Combine the dry with the wet. Don’t over mix. Less mixing the more fluffy they will be
  4. Let sit for 10 min.
  5. I found that a cast iron pan makes the best pancakes, but any pan will do.
  6. Top with honey and roasted pumpkin seeds.

My chef friend Mikel and I made this video to teach people how to create their own recipes based on common techniques found in various cuisines around the world. Check it out.

December 4, 2014

It seems like a lot of people I know don’t like mushrooms. They flee from them like the plague. They’re probably traumatized from multiple experiences with terribly cooked button mushrooms, so they refuse to try them anymore. Or they might not like the texture – don’t get me started on that. It’s a shame because there are so many varieties that offer such wildly unique flavors, and everything deserves a try.

At the San Francisco farmers market I found a farmer selling unique organic mushrooms. I got some Nameko, Lion’s mane, hedgehog, black trumpet, king trumpet, oyster, and maitake mushrooms. I cooked them over the campfire when I was passing through Big Sur.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that these mushrooms tasted better than bacon juice injected beef dipped in butter. I used my favorite method frying in a dry pan (explained below) with the added bonus of oak smoke from the fire.

Here are some tips on how to properly prepare mushrooms so you can convert some mushroom haters you know.

1. Pick some interesting varieties. We all know what button and crimini mushrooms taste like, so try something different. There is usually someone specializing in mushrooms at most farmers markets, and all Asian markets have a more interesting selection of dried and fresh.

2. Don’t wash them!!! Please refrain from ruining the mushrooms. They are like sponges that pickup all the water you put on them. This makes them chewy and water logged. Most come pretty clean because they don’t really pickup that much dirt – depending on how they are grown. If they do have dirt on them, simply wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth or paper towel. This is very important.

3. Dry pan fry. Try adding them to a well seasoned cast iron pan or nonstick WITHOUT oil on medium heat. Let them fry to evaporate the moisture. This will allow you to brown them a bit and even make them crispy if you like. I like to add oil and garlic after 5 minutes in the pan. If you add the oil too early the mushrooms soak it up right away.

4. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Moisture will come out of the mushrooms as they cook, so to avoid boiling them in a puddle of water, leave space so the moisture can evaporate quickly.

5. Keep it simple. I like to just add salt and pepper. Sometimes I might add creme, garlic, or butter.

6. Ultra crispy. Slice some giant trumpets ultra thin on a mandolin slicer and add them to the pan wiped with a little oil and cook them on low until they dehydrate and crisp up. This makes an epic garnish.

7. Mushrooms on toast. Toast some good bread and rub with a garlic clove cut in half. Then add the mushrooms on top and garnish with some spicy greens (I used nasturtium leaves in this photo).

8. Marinate. You can marinate even boring button mushrooms to make them interesting. I use a mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic, minced shallot, salt, and pepper. Marinate for a few hours and then saute.

November 11, 2014

After reading (and by reading I mean I listened to the audio CD) Michael Pollan’s book Cooked, I was more motivated to cook than ever. He describes in depth how to cook with fire, cook with water, preserve by fermentation, and bake rustic bread. His section on slow cooking tough cuts of meat motivated me to learn more about the technique of braising. The cheapest cuts of meat can be just as flavorful as any expensive cut, but they require careful slow cooking technique to make the meat tender.

The basic science is that the most exercised parts of an animal (leg, rump and shoulder) have more collagen which makes the meat tough and chewy. With enough cooking time at around 150 degrees, the collagen transforms into gelatin, so the meat becomes soft and breaks apart. So it is all about time and temperature – low and slow. It’s time to slow down and cook more.

This brings me to lamb shank. It is one of the cheapest cuts, but it requires some slow cooking. It’s basically the equivalent of a chicken drum stick, which is one of my favorite cuts. Here is my recipe for lamb shank.

  • 2 lamb shanks (one per person)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper (more than you think you need)
  1. Add smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper along with some olive oil and rub into the meat. Marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Chop carrots, celery, and onion. Rough chop garlic.
  3. Saute carrots, celery, onion and garlic on med-low. Don’t let it burn. Add to crock pot.
  4. Add oil to cast iron or stainless steel pan and brown the lamb shanks on med to med-high until you have brown all over.
  5. Add wine to deglaze pan. Make sure to get all the sticky brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Those are all good flavor.
  6. Put lamb shanks on top of vegetables in crock pot and add the wine liquid along with 1 cup of vegetable stock.
  7. Cook on low for 3-5 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.
  8. Garnish with any herb you have. I used mint because it goes well with lamb and I have a ton of it in my garden.



May 2, 2014

Sorry I haven’t posted in a long time. It’s been a busy season in my life and even though I’ve been cooking a ton, I haven’t posted anything. Don’t worry, I’m not eating out at Applebee’s everyday. That place is…. Anyway, here is my version of chicken cacciatore. I love making this because it is so easy and doesn’t require much prep.

Fresh herbs are key to this recipe. If you don’t grow your own, stop what your doing, go to home depot, and buy some plants. Otherwise, this recipe (and all other Italian recipes) will cost you $5 more than it should. These plants are so easy to grow. Rosemary and thyme are some of the more hardy plants and are very versatile.

Here is one final note about cooking I recently learned from a chef friend. The last thing you put in is the first thing you taste. This means that if you like the taste of garlic, put it in last NOT first. If you like the taste of fresh herbs, put them in 5 minutes before it’s done cooking. You can alter the balance of flavor by timing ingredients to your liking. Try some variations. I’m also not a fan of adding garlic to the oil before I add the chicken because it tends to burn. If you like that flavor, try sauteing the garlic to a perfect crispiness and then taking it out to add in at the end.

Recipe for 4 servings

  • 4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 – 24oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 5 handfuls of penne pasta
  • 3 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  1. Add oil to pan on medium heat and bring to temp.
  2. Add chicken and cook on medium-high. After a few minutes lower temp to med-low to cook for 5-10 min per side. Make sure it is low enough so it gets crispy but does not burn. Don’t move the chicken around until it comes loose on its own. Lower heat is important here so it releases before it burns.
  3. Puree roasted tomatoes and add to chicken along with herbs, minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle some more olive oil on top and mix everything in.
  4. Simmer on low for 20 minutes
  5. Add diced zucchini 3 minutes before serving.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and add to pasta.
July 2, 2013

Peppers were super cheap, so I bought a ton and roasted them to use in a bunch of recipes. I like roasting big batches, so I can eat some right away and freeze the rest. I love to use them to make tapenades, put in sandwiches, and rough chop them to add in rice or beans. Check out this method of roasting peppers so you can remove the skin leaving you with a smooth and silky sweet pepper.

Here’s how to roast peppers for maximum flavor:

  1. Toss whole peppers in a large mixing bowl with enough olive oil to coat. Add salt and pepper. You can also add a peeled onion cut into quarters and a whole bulb of garlic broken into pieces if you like.
  2. Put on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. They taste better if they char black in some spots (but not too black). You will peel off the skin anyway. If they don’t darken, you can add them to the broiler for 5 minutes on high.
  3. Turn them half way through to get color on the other side.
  4. Remove from oven and IMMEDIATELY put back in mixing bowl and cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap to lock in the steam. The plastic wrap will start to puff up if you’ve created the seal correctly. It usually takes 2-3 pieces to seal the bowl.
  5. Let sit in the fridge until cool. They get better after a day in the fridge, but you can move onto the next step as soon as they cool down.
  6. Uncover and peel the skins off by hand. They should just peel off like butter. Remove the stems and seeds.
  7. Add to any recipe.
  8. To freeze, add to a mason jar and cover with the juice left over in the bowl. Fill 70 percent of the way, add cap, and freeze.

Here is a pepper tapenade recipe:

  • 4 roasted bell peppers
  • 1/2 roasted onion
  • 3 roasted garlic gloves
  • handful of basil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Roast peppers, onions, and garlic and peel.
  2. Rough chop everything with a knife or use a food processor.
  3. Add olive oil to get the consistency you want.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Eat with high quality bread.

When we were in Hawaii we tried this macadamia nut encrusted mahi mahi, and I fell immediately bought some fresh fish and tried to imitate it. My version is a much more simple and fresh version that requires much less ingredients. We got some epic macadamia nut oil while we were there, so I used that in the recipe instead of olive oil.


  • 1/2 lb Mahi Mahi
  • small handful raw macadamia nuts
  • any veggies
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • macadamia nut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut up vegetables of your choice and partially boil.
  3. Crush mac nuts into fine powder by placing them in a plastic bag and bashing them with a bottle.
  4. Place vegetables in an oven proof dish and toss with some mac nut oil.
  5. Place fish in center of dish and spread honey over the top.
  6. Spread crushed mac nuts over top and drizzle a little more mac oil on top.
  7. Back for 20 minutes or until done at 350 degrees.
April 29, 2013

Miso paste has been a very versatile ingredient for me over the past three months. It lasts a long time in the fridge, and I love making soups with miso as a base. I’ve even braised white fish in miso and it’s incredible. Here is a quick and easy recipe using miso. Asian markets will have a wide assortment of miso pastes. I always go for a more expensive organic brand, but you only be paying anywhere from 3-6 dollars for enough to last you months. To make the ultimate miso soup, get some dried herring powder. It sounds fishy, but you’ll see that adding a teaspoon of it will give you that classic miso taste. If you can’t find it, then you can use the chicken bullion cubes.

Cabbage Miso Soup Recipe for 2:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 half savoy cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground herring or chicken bullion
  • 2 shredded carrots
  • soy sauce to taste
  • sriracha to taste for spice
  1. Bring water to boil. Add miso and ground herring.
  2. Rough chop cabbage and finely slice carrots.
  3. Add cabbage and carrots. Cook for 15-20 minutes until cabbage is very tender.
  4. Add soy sauce, sriracha, and cilantro to taste.


My dad’s kale garden was growing like crazy, so he cut me about 5 pounds of prime kale. I juiced a ton of it, but I thought I’d try making kale chips. I used kale and tree collards, and I liked the texture of the collards better. These are super easy to make, and don’t worry because you don’t need a dehydrator. A dehydrator is be optimal way to preserve the nutrient value because you can set it at under 120 degrees. The hotter you bake them, the more enzymes are killed. If you do it in your oven, just turn it to the lowest temp and bake for a few hours. My oven only goes down to 170.

One important thing to note is that these chips are extremely crispy when they come out of the oven, but if you let them sit out they will absorb moisture and go soft quick. Put them in a mason jar and seal them tight to keep them super crispy.

I’ve been obsessed with sriracha chili sauce, so I thought I’d create a recipe using it as a primary flavor. I added a little of soy sauce and grated ginger to balance it out.

I tried some plain and soaked them in salt water. They were good, but I preferred the flavored ones.


  • 1 lb fresh kale or collards
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sriracha chili sauce
  • thumb size grated ginger
  1. break kale into bit size pieces
  2. add soy sauce, sriracha, and ginger
  3. scrunch the kale together hard so they kale starts to break down and soften. This will force the flavor in. Let sit for a half hour.
  4. Dehydrate at a temp less than 120 degrees for 3-4 hours or bake in oven on a cookie sheet at the lowest temperature possible for around 2 hours. Just bake them until they are brittle and crispy.
  5. Store in a mason jar.