Monday, October 29, 2007

Foodie Alert

Airline Food with a WOW!

The ‘Next Iron Chef’ took to the sky on this episode. The four remaining contestants tried their hand at airline food. They traveled to Munich, Germany to prepare new menus for Lufthansa Airline, which is launching a new fuel-efficient Airbus A380. The Airbus A380 will launch in 2009. Scenes of the plane’s first class and business class looked quite different from most planes. The meals which are provided by LSG Sky Chefs looked pretty different, too. It wasn’t the usual bag of peanuts and crackers that I am used to. In honor of the new plane, Lufthansa was pulling out all the stops and wanted a new menu for the flight. The winner of the ‘Next Iron Chef will be offered the chance to collaborate with Lufthansa and LSG Sky Chefs in creating a signature menu for their premium dining program in 2008.
The chefs learned to appreciate airline food after they found out how it is prepared. Bernd Schmitt, Executive Chef for Menu Design at LSG Sky Chefs, explained a few differences in preparing airline food. He explained that taste buds change at high altitudes, foods need to be spicer (which some chefs took into account in preparing their menus, but the judging took place on the ground). Food is cooked and then chilled, then reheated and plated on board the plane. Dishes must appeal to a large segment of passengers, as LDG Sky Chefs serve almost 150,000 premium meals every two months. Schmitt also helped judge this episode.
Amid the running around and chasing camera people out of the way, we saw raw fish dishes, venison, and white asparagus. Michael served tuna crudo and Aaron served scallop ceviche. Chris served severly undercooked cauliflower (Michael
Ruhlman described it as a crudite). Michael Ruhlman also had a problem with John Besh’s watermelon consommé (which wasn’t clear enough). Michael Symon won the challenge with perfectly cooked salmon (which wowed the guest judge). The episode ended with a decision of whether to send Chris Cosentino or Aaron Sanchez home. For a moment, it seemed that the title of episode loser was up for grabs, but the ‘whiner’ won that title. The competition is down to three. The next stop is Paris. Without a miracle, it looks like Chris Cosentino will be the next to go. Which will leave John Besh and Michael Symon to battle it out in kitchen stadium. Either one of these two will make a fine ‘iron chef’. I really like John Besh, but I like Michael Symon even more.


Emeril has a special show airing on Saturday, November 3rd at 8 p.m. Emeril will return to Harlem’s Children’s Storefront School to prepare lunch for the students. Do you think that he will like the cafeteria? He should, he designed it. Not only does he make lunch, but he invites the students back to his studio for pizza, tacos and an ice sundae bar.


Food Network and Chelsea Market Baskets announced they will launch a Food Network-branded area in the front of the Chelsea Market Basket store in the Chelsea Market building in Lower Manhattan. Chelsea Market Baskets is the first retailer beyond Food Network’s online store to provide a physical space and sell Food Network products including DVDs and cookbooks. The retailer will also sell Food Network talent cookbooks and other related items.
“We are thrilled to partner with a proven retailer like Chelsea Market Baskets, at the home of Food Network, Chelsea Market,” said Lia Buffa, Director of New Business & E-Commerce, Food Network. “They have been here since the building opened and we know they are the right partner to represent the Food Network brand locally in New York City.”
The branded space will launch in early November. Other items for sale will include Food Network-branded soft goods such as aprons, oven mitts, canvas tote bags, t-shirts and track jackets. In addition, they will also offer spices, rubs and olive oil from Food Network talent.


New Episodes on America’s Test Kitchen start in January.
This is the most watched cooking show on public television with three million viewers per week. A new series called America’s Test Kitchen: Cook’s Country will air next year in July. The 13 episode show was filmed from September 21st to October 5th in a Vermont farmhouse with practical no-nonsense food.


Check out the website, Serious Eats.com for Mario Batali.
Mario is producing a video series called ‘Mario Batali Unclogged’. This original on-line video content will feature a new one to two minute episode every Tuesday. Mario also has a PBS show coming out where he and Gwyneth Paltrow will cook Spanish food. http://www.seriouseats.com/mario-batali


Food Network is everywhere.
You have seen all the ads on TV about being able to buy Food Network products at Kohl’s. What if you don’t have a Kohl’s close at hand: go on-line to Cooking.com for a look at 20,000 products. They will also carry hard to find recipe ingredients.


Chef Robert Irvine is back for another season of “Dinner: Impossible”. Chef Irvine and his two sous chefs take on the seemingly impossible and make it happen. In case you haven’t seen it, the premise goes something like this: Hello Robert. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, will be to feed 100 people,
P.S. Bring heavy clothing.
And he ends up at the North Pole. Or feeds 2000 people at a ball game. Anytime that you are having a bad day in the kitchen, just be thankful that you didn’t receive his mission. But Robert knows his chops, he has cooked for the British Royal Family and four U,S. Presidents. I enjoy his show.
The show airs on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on the Food Network with 26 episodes.



Have you watched the online webisode series called ‘Top Recipe: The Wong Way to Cook’? This is such a great idea. Thank you Bravo TV for thinking of it.


Do you have what it takes? The search continues in Miami.

This is what they are looking for:

• Cooking know-how: You must have strong cooking skills. Cooks, Restaurant Chefs, Caterers, Personal Chefs, and Foodies are encouraged to apply!

• Personality that pops: Let yourself shine and show us who you really are. Don't be shy. We are all about personality-show us yours!

• Teaching skills: Bring the world of food and cooking to life in your very own passionate and unique way. Please be clear about your cooking point of view.

From a pool of finalists, one winner will receive their own six-episode show.

To Apply:

Please e-mail us your name, age, phone number, e-mail address, city, a brief summary of why you want to be on the show, occupation (if not cooking professionally how do you continue to keep your passion for cooking alive), and a picture of yourself to: CastingNFNS4@yahoo.com

Or Meet the casting team at our Miami, FL Open Call!

Date: 11/6/07
Time: 10am-3pm
Metropole
635 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Ohio Foodies

If you are into Food, mark November 9-11 on your calendar. The Fabulous Food Show will be at the I-X Center in Cleveland. With the likes of Alton Brown, Giada DeLaurentiis, Duff ‘Ace of Cakes’ Goldman, Rick Bayless and Jason Roberts, what’s not to like. Local talent will also be there, including Brandt Evans of Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern in Twinsburg, Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood and Matt Swingos of Swingos Grand Tavern in Avon Lake.
For more information or to order tickets, visit http://www.fabulousfoodshow.com. Tickets are $25 in advance, $27.50 at the door.
If you can wait until January 16th, you may want to travel to North Canton for the ‘Hearty Boys’, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh. The two will appear at Fishers Foods’ Loretta Paganini School of Cooking for a cooking class and book signing. Their first book, “Talk with Your Mouth Full” was released in September. The class is $75 and is limited to 40, so early reservations are encouraged. Call 888-748-4063.




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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Five Chefs and a 'Whiner'



It’s 9:00 Sunday night and I’m glued to the tv, watching the “Next Iron Chef”. Why do I watch? I like reality cooking challenges. I am watching real chefs at the top of their game. I may learn something ( I hope so anyhow, I am always in student mode). And naturally, I want to know who the judges consider to be the best. They are all among the best and as Alton Brown says, “Anyone can have a bad day” and we all know that feeling. You already know who I want to have a bad day – the whiner.

There are six contestants left. Tonight’s challenge is to cook outdoors on a charcoal grill with no electricity, no running water and no gas. As if that weren’t challenge enough, guess who gets to choose your secret ingredients – the other challengers. Alton Brown tells the contestants that this is their chance for sabotage and to use that chance wisely. Who will throw who under the bus? Chris Cosentino won the last episode, so he will select pairs of chefs to select the ingredients. Chris selects Michael Symon as his own partner, Morou versus John Besh and Gavin Kaysen versus Aaron Sanchez. One by one, the chefs secretly pick out ingredients for their opponent. What did the chefs do to each other?

Chris chose quail, berries and something green that Michael had never heard of before. Michael grilled the quail, made juice out of the Jupiter berries and a blackberry salad with the green things he had never heard of before. His claim to fame was making polenta from the cornmeal in the pantry.

Michael chose squab and dandelion greens for Chris. Chris grilled the squab breast with Jupiter berries and made a dandelion greens salad. The judges really liked the salad.

Morou gave John Besh rabbit and lots of flowers as his main ingredients. John made chicken fried rabbit as his entrée and a salad. The judges commented that he did not use the rabbit is both dishes and the rabbit tasted like wet tissue.

John gave Morou venison, which Morou marinaded and grilled, served with a blueberry sauce. The judges liked his dishes, but said that his plating was routine.

It’s a given that the selection at the ingredient table was growing smaller and smaller, but Gavin and the ‘whiner’ did their best for each other. Gavin picked snails for the ‘whiner’. And what did the ‘whiner’ do? What he does best, whine. He couldn’t believe that he got snails. He couldn’t get his fire hot enough. The trials and tribulations in the life of Aaron Sanchez. The fire situation was remedied and just to see if it was hot enough, the ‘whiner’ tried to pick up a steel skillet without his side towel. What a goof! Anyhow, he prepared escargot pierced with garlic scapes and a mushroom salad.

Gavin got frog legs and quail eggs. What to do, what to do. Gavin confessed that he had only cooked frog legs twice before. He grilled frog leg lollipops with a raspberry sauce and poached quail eggs for a salad. Again the judges commented that the main ingredient was not used in both dishes. Judge Michael Ruhlman had a problem with his seasonings.

Even though the judges thought Chris Cosentino’s presentations were boring, he got a pass. John Besh also got a pass. Michael Symon was declared the winner of the challenge. Go, Michael!
(OH-IO).

This left three, Gavin, Morou and the ‘whiner’. Two would be eliminated. Who got to stay? The WHINER. Are you kidding me!!!!

Next stop is Munich.










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Sunday, October 21, 2007

French Cooking Can Be Easy! Just Ask Amy.

The Gourmet Next Door

Amy Finley has struck again. I really enjoy her recipes. She has a little bit of Alton Brown in her. She explains not only what she is doing, but why she’s doing it. I really don’t watch a cooking show to be entertained as much as learning a new idea or technique. I like to understand the concept of cooking or baking. Five people could use the same ingredients and recipe, but yet the dishes won’t all taste the same. They will be close, but someone who understands food science has an edge on all other cooks. Harold McGee wrote a wonderful book called “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen”. If you have been to culinary school, this is required reading.

Today’s episode featured an endive and roasted red beet salad with Chicken Piccard and roasted potatoes. A mocha terrine rounded out the meal for dessert. Amy pointed out that she offset the slight bitterness of the endive with the sweetness of the beets. She picked dishes that included some of the same seasonings to save time and as a theme for the restaurant style meal. Amy talked a lot about the aromas of the dishes. You use two of your senses to judge a dish before you ever taste it, your sense of sight and your sense of smell. If you walk into a home and you smell something that just doesn’t smell right and then you look at it thrown on a plate. You pretty much know that it isn’t going to taste good. Amy’s food looks very good, so we are assuming that it tastes good too. Last week, she bashed some potatoes and cooked them on top of the stove. This week, she roasted them in the oven. For dessert, she made a three layered ice cream dish.

I like Amy’s show and I wish her much luck with the remaining episodes.




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Monday, October 15, 2007

The "Next Iron Chef" - episode 2




RANT: I have to say it and get it off my chest. Chef Sanchez, why do you think the rules apply to everyone else, but not you? Maybe, you have a hearing problem. You just don’t hear that time is up. Maybe, you are just a whiner. That would be my guess. You are not Iron Chef material!!!!

That said, I can now get on with the rest of the story. I really enjoy this show. I am always sorry to see someone have to leave. (That would not include Chef Sanchez) I like the competition and the camaraderie among the chefs. The chefs seem to have a good time until the JUDGEMENT.

The themes for episode two were Simplicity and innovation. In the first challenge, the chefs were supposed to produce one bite that revealed everything about their culinary style and personality. Since John Besh won the last competition, he was allowed to select his ingredients first. John sauntered to the table and then invited everyone to join him. They were to make six plates. The reason for the six plates, they were to judge each other.

John Besh made a seared scallop with truffle and Jerusalem artichoke.

Chris Consentio made ahi tuna cured in olive brine, basil and tomato juice.

Aaron Sanchez only got one bite plated, so that is all he was judged on. He made ceviche, which John Besh said was perfect.

Gavin Kaysen made a clam dish, which John Besh said tasted flat after eating the ceviche.

Michael Symon made a lamb tartare with citrus zests and heirloom tomato and Greek yogurt.

Jill Davie had some issues with her dish. She ran out of time and kind of threw everything on the plate. It was also commented that her bite had a peanut butter and jelly flavor.

Morou made duck with orange and cumin. His bite was very tender.

And the winner is Michael Symon with three votes.
On to the second challenge.
Innovation
Do you have this gadget in your kitchen? The elimination challenge focused on gadgets and chemicals. Michael Symon commented that all of his career, he has tried to take chemicals out of food and now they were asking him to put chemicals in his food.

A company named PolyScience came up with innovative gadgets for the chefs to play with.

Some of the Gadgets:
‘Anti-Griddle’ freezes sauces and purees instead of heating them. You can either freeze the sauce or puree solid or have a crunchy outside and creamy centers.
‘Vacuum Packaging System’ makes ‘Food Saver’ look like a toy.
‘Smoking Gun’ can be used as either a finishing tool to add smoke or used a marinate to add that smoky flavor.
‘Thermal Circulating Baths’ are really quick ways to cook.

The contestants had to use 2 chemicals and 3 gadgets. They had ninety minutes to explore the gadgets and present a dish. This is the elimination round.

And the judging begins. First up is John Besh. He prepared a cold potato soup, a summer truffle tapenade and a warm potato soup. The judges were not impressed. His next dish is roast duck and something covered with parmesan crust. The judges still don’t seem impressed.

Next is Gavin with a fricassee of sweetbreads, Hamachi crudo and three kinds of beets. The judges still weren’t impressed.

Chris made a duck breast smoked with spice and the saour shaving cream with razor clams. At last, the judges start to take notice.

Michael made a deconstructed tomato salad. Two of the judges liked it. Andrew doesn’t seem to like much of anything. His next dish was a truffle salad with compliments applied liberally to Donatella.

Morou made a lobster sashimi with pickled plum and a braised beef cheek dish. He said he was inspired by the immersion cooker.

Jill made a potato and cod creation that just didn’t pass muster.

Aaron pan roasted a sable fish and sweetbreads. Verdict: needed more salt.

Everyone gathers in front of the judging panel.
First save: Aaron (luckily for him, the judges only see the finished product and not the kitchen attitude.)
Next save: Morou
Next: Michael
Next: John

That left three, Chris, Gavin and Jill. They still haven’t mentioned a winner. The next save is Chris and ‘oh by the way, Chris you won.’

That leaves Jill and Gavin, neither one is looking very confident. Gavin, you are safe and Jill, you are leaving. That’s it for the ladies.

Next week will be a double elimination. That increases the chances that the whiner will go home.

The episodes continue:

Episode 3 - October 21
This episode focuses on resourcefulness. The chefs take it outside. They select ingredients for one another from a collection of wild ingredients. With very little in the way of supplies or cooking equipment the challenge is to create an amazing meal.

Episode 4 – October 28
The chefs travel to Germany. The challenge: create under pressure. The chefs will prepare the ultimate first class meal for passengers of Lufthansa’s new luxury double-decker plane, the Airbus A 380.

Episode 5 – November 4
There are three chefs left. They fly to Paris for the next challenge: lead and inspire. The inspiration part of the challenge is to create dishes that ‘Explain America’ for a party held by Craig Stapleton, the U.S. Ambassador to France. The leading part of the challenge should be interesting. All of the sous chefs are French and do not speak English.

Episode 6 – November 11
The Grand finale challenges the two remaining chefs to attain greatness in the kitchen stadium. There will be a panel of surprise guest judges. The winner will be an ‘Iron Chef’ and begin his reign on the new season of ‘Iron Chef America’ starting on November 18.

Do you have a favorite?




Sunday, October 14, 2007

"The Gourmet Next Door"

I just finished watching Amy Finley in the “Gourmet Next Door”. I had medium expectations for the show. I really wanted Amy to win “The Next Food Network Star”. Today was the premiere and as I expected, Amy was nervous (personally, I would have been a basket case). Because this was Amy’s first show and she was not a veteran TV personality and the topic for the show was not ordinary Food Network fare, I did not have high expectations for the premiere. But I believe that Amy pulled it off. I liked the fact that Amy talked as though you were sitting across the counter from her. I liked the idea of something different in the food department. I liked being able to see what was going on. There was very little presto, change-o in the preparation. She also explained why she did some of the things that she did. Another big plus, she used ordinary ingredients. I learned a new technique, beat your potatoes with a rolling pin (interesting).
My only negative comment: Amy, you really need a new hairdo.

Menu: Cheese Puff Appetizers (Gougere Choux)
Pan Roasted Potatoes
Grilled Flank Steak with a Red Wine and Shallot Sauce
Profiteroles with Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

The food looked good and very manageable for most cooks. I plan on making this meal soon.

All in all, a good show. Congratulations, Amy!

The Food Network website should have the recipes up by tomorrow.

Don't Forget About Amy!

"The Gourmet Next Door" premieres at noon today. This is the first episode of Amy Finley's new show. Amy was the winner of "The Next Food Network Star". I'm hoping that her show goes over well. Let me know what you think of it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Soooo, What Did You Think?

If you have not watched the show yet, do not read this post.

I liked the show. We saw some amazing knife skills. We also saw that the fastest is not always the best, as some of the ingredients were disqualified. Aaron Sanchez won that competition.

As Alton Brown said, “Even great chefs have bad days.” And we saw that. Some of the equipment failed to work properly, but a great chef has to carry on anyhow. Some of the ingredients were missing, such as sugar and butter in a dessert dish. Thankfully, I’ve never been asked to make a dessert out of tripe, squid, or catfish.

Alton did drop a few hints about different ingredients and methods. Some of these hints were picked up on and others were not.
We saw a variety of personalities, from funny to really serious. There was a good connection between all the chefs. They had a chance to laugh and sometimes almost play with the ingredients. Things did not really get serious until the final judging. It is too early for me to pick a winner, but I already have some favorites. I’m sure that you do too.

John Besh won the first episode and Traci Des Jardins was asked to leave. I really believe that there will be no losers in this contest. They are all great chefs.



More Competitors

Introducing Gavin Kaysen

Gavin looks so young to have accomplished so much. He was born in Thousand Oaks, California in 1979. Gavin says that his mom is the worst cook in the world. If he had his own cooking show it would be aimed at cooks like his mother. Gavin got his start in “cooking” at Subway. While Gavin was working at Subway, an Italian restaurant opened up next door. The owner of the restaurant would come in every Saturday and order a tuna sandwich. He would go outside and look at the sandwich and then throw it in the garbage. After a few times, Gavin asked why he threw it away. The owner replied that he was looking to see how Gavin put the sandwich together and offered Gavin a job at the restaurant because Gavin had a great work ethic. While working at the restaurant, Gavin learned to love food and learned to cook with emotion.

Gavin was graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in 2001. He is a big supporter of their program. He entered an international competition and had the support of his previous instructors. They even connected him with a previous graduate in Paris, who allows him to use his kitchen at the Jean-George Vongerichten to prepare for the competition. Gavin was the International Silver Medalist, National Trophee de Cuisine et Patisserie.

After graduation, Gavin became the sous chef at Domaine Chandon in the Napa Valley. Under Chef Robert Curry, he learned what food could be. Gavin moved on to the Auberge de Lavaux in Lausanne, Switzerland to work under Chef Jacky Vuillet. Gavin not only learned to speak French there, but also learned classic French cuisine. From Switzerland to London to work at L’Escargot under Marco Pierre White. Finally it was home again to work under Patrick Ponsaty at El Bizcocho aat the Rancho Bernardo Inn. In 2004, Gavin became the chef de cuisine.

In 2004, Gavin received the ‘Best Chef’ Award from the San Diego Magazine. In 2006, he won the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest in Chicago. This year, Food & Wine Magazine named him ‘Best New Chef’.
Gavin is married to Linda, whom he met in Europe.

Greek Salad with Feta Mousse
ACTIVE TIME: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 1 HR
4 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS

Gavin Kaysen’s Greek salad has most of the usual ingredients, like tomatoes and olives—but, in an inspired twist, he turns the traditional feta cheese into a creamy, light feta mousse. Kaysen invented the dish to impress his coach when he was training for the prestigious international Bocuse d’Or cooking competition, and he says, "It blew him away."
ingredients
6 ounces Greek feta cheese, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin softened in 1 1/2 tablespoons of water
Freshly ground white pepper
2 1/2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, sliced, quartered or halved
Fleur de sel and coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
16 pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

directions
1. In a small skillet, combine the feta and cream and simmer over moderate heat until the feta is slightly melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the softened gelatin and transfer to a blender. Puree until fairly smooth. Season with white pepper. Scrape the mixture into a shallow bowl and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
2. Bring the feta mousse back to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Whisk the mousse until loosened. Spread the mousse in the center of each plate. Top with the tomatoes, lightly seasoning each layer with fleur de sel and black pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil, garnish with the olives, red onion and oregano and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The feta mousse can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Recipe by Gavin Kaysen
This recipe originally appeared in July, 2007.
Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine

Maine Lobster on House Made Brioche, Haas Avocado, Tahitian Vanilla-Orange Vinaigrette, Micro Greens
By Chef Gavin Kaysen of El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, California
Serves 8-10 people
INGREDIENTS
Court Boullion For Lobster
• 2 onions, chopped
• 4 carrots, chopped
• 1 fennel bulb, chopped
• 4 celery stalks, chopped
• 2 leeks, chopped
• 1 handfull cracked black pepper
• 1 sachet of herbs, 1/2 bulb parsley, 1/2 bulb thyme, 1/2 bulb tarragon
• 3 lemons, cut in half
Marinade for Lobster
• Olive oil
• Zest of three grapefruit
• Zest of three orange
• 1/2 bu thyme
• 10 garlic bulbs – peeled
Orange – Tahitian Vanilla Vinaigrette
• 4 cups orange juice
• 2 each peeled and diced ginger
• 1 each vanilla bean
• 4 each star anise
• 5 limes – juiced
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
________________________________________

DIRECTIONS
The lobster:
Roughly chop all of the above and combine in a pot with water. Once the water is at a full boil, turn down and let simmer for 10 minutes. Now place the live lobster into the court bouillon and cook for exactly 6 MINUTES! Then take the lobster out and place on a sheet tray and cool in the fridge. Clean the lobster while they are still a little warm.
The marinade:
Before filling each sous-vide bag, fill it with a bit of olive oil, 1 or 2 of each zest, a touch of thyme and 1 bulb garlic. Then sous-vide that with the lobster in it, lined up perfectly. Label and date all bags.
The vinaigrette:
Begin by combining the first four ingredients and reducing that to 1 1/2 cups. Once that is reduced, strain the mixture and cool. Next, add the lime juice, Dijon mustard and the cooled orange juice mixture and mix. Now, slowly add the oil into that and use an emulsion blender to finish the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, label and date.
Assembly:
Toast the Brioche slightly, then add the par cooked lobster tail to that. Now scoop on a touch of the avocado, drizzle the sauce around and add the micro greens on top.


Introducing Morou Ouattara

Most people would be all too willing to have Morou cook for them. But when Mom is in town from the Ivory Coast, Mom cooks. He says that mom force feeds him. It is as if there is no food in America. Morou moved to the U.S. in 1988 to study computer science. He moved in with his older brother and they both worked nights in local restaurants. They both gave up computers for cooking. Morou began as a dishwasher at Ristorante I Ricchi. When one of the cooks quit, he got his chance. Morou cooks with what he calls American cuisine with international influences. He was greatly influenced by his mother’s cooking.

Morou comes from Bondoukou, a town of about 30,000, in the savannah in northeastern Ivory Coast near the border with Ghana. Although the family has a refrigerator and propane gas stove, Mrs Ouattara cooks outside over an open fire.
Morou is the executive chef and owner of Farrah Olivia. He previously was the chef at Signatures in Washington D.C. He would like to open a fine dining American restaurant with African flair.

QuickMeals Recipe for Caramelized Maine Lobster with Vanilla Tapioca Risotto from
Chef Morou Ouattara of Signatures - Washington, D.C.
Adapted by Starchefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients:
Vanilla Tapioca Risotto:
2 cups tapioca
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons finely diced onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise, or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock, warm
¼ cup corn kernels
2 Tablespoons mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons butter
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Caramelized Lobster:
4 Tablespoons olive oil
4 small lobsters, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
For Tapioca Risotto:
Rinse tapioca under cold running water for 5 minutes. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Sauté onion for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tapioca and vanilla. Cook for 3 minutes. Deglaze pan with white wine. Cook until almost dry. Add chicken stock and cook until tapioca is tender, about 5 minutes. Add corn, mascarpone cheese, butter, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For Caramelized Lobster:
Preheat oven to 400º F. Heat oil in a very large sauté pan over moderately high heat. Season cut side of lobster with parsley, salt and pepper. Place lobster in pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Transfer sauté pan directly to oven. (Alternately, sauté lobster in batches. Set sautéed lobster halves, cut-side down, in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.) Roast lobsters for an additional 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and serve with Vanilla Tapioca Risotto.

Wine Pairing:
The richness of this dish will be complemented, but not overpowered, by the full-bodied and balanced Grgich Hills Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2002.
Recipe courtesy of Star Chef

Skillet-Seared Scallops with Carrot-Ginger Vinaigrette
• Prep: 10 min.
• Cook: 10 min.
• Ready In 20 min.
• Serves 4
★☆☆☆☆
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provided by Morou Ouattara
Ingredients
• 1 tablespoon oil
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
• 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
• 1 pound Maine diver scallops, or large sea scallops, about 20 pieces

Cooking Instructions

Make Chestnut Stuffing through Step 6.
Place carrot, onion and ginger in food processor and puree for three minutes. While machine is running, add rice vinegar and sugar and, in a slow, steady stream, add 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil. Transfer the vinaigrette mixture to a separate container. In a small bowl, blend the sesame oil and soy sauce. Add the sesame-soy mixture to the carrot-ginger vinaigrette to taste. Season mixture with freshly ground pepper and additional salt to taste. Set aside while you prepare the scallops.
In a skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium heat until very hot, but not smoking. Meanwhile, pull off and discard tough, crescent-shaped muscle from each scallop. Sprinkle scallops with pepper and salt. Add scallops to skillet. Cook scallops for 4-5 minutes or just until they turn opaque throughout. Do not turn scallops over. Transfer the scallops to warm plates and drizzle with the carrot-ginger vinaigrette.

Round Out the Meal:
With sweet potato and fennel puree (recipe follows).
Sweet Potato-Fennel Puree:
1 pound sweet potato, peeled and cubed Half of a small fennel bulb, chopped, about 4 ounces 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature Salt and white pepper to taste
Place sweet potato and fennel in a 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Drain vegetables well, transfer to a food processor and puree. Blend in butter. Season mixture with salt and white pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Healthy Hint:
Omit or reduce quantity of butter in sweet potato-fennel puree.
Recipe courtesy of AOL Food

Introducing Aaron Sanchez

Aaron is the son of celebrated Mexican cooking authority, Zarela Martinez. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading contemporary Latin chefs. In February, 2001 he teamed up with Eamon Furlong to open Paladar. This is a Pan-Latin style restaurant on the Lower East Side. ’Time Out New York’ presented their 2001 Award for Best New Lower East Side Restaurant to Paladar and their 2002 Best Latin American Restaurant. In 2004, Aaron also opened up Centrico which features Mexican cuisine.

Aaron has also appeared on Food Network as the co-host of ‘Melting Pot”, which features contemporary interpretations of classic Latino cuisine. He has also consulted with Proctor and Gamble, Target and Ortega.

Aaron was born in El Paso, Texas in 1976. In 1984, the family moved to New York and Zarela opened the ‘Café Marimba’. Aaron started helping out in the restaurant when he was eleven. By sixteen, he earned a place in a Master class with Chef Paul Prudhomme. When Aaron graduated from high school, he started to work for Chef Prudhomme in New Orleans.

In 1993, Aaron studied Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales. In 1994, he returned to New York to work with Nuevo-Latino chef, Douglas Rodriquez at Patria. While working there, he met Alex Garcia, who was the other co-host on ‘Melting Pot’. In 1996, Aaron and Alex left Patria to open Erizo Latino.

Aaron wanted to explore the San Francisco area restaurants. He worked with Chef Reed Hearon at Rose Pistola. After a year, he moved back to New York as executive chef at L-Ray, a Gulf Rim and Caribbean bistro. Later, he moved to Isla, a restaurant inspired by pre-revolutionary Cuba, as executive chef.
He has written a cookbook by the name of ‘La Comida del Barrio’.

Chef Aarón's Ceviche 'Chino Latino'
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 pound sashimi quality yellowfin tuna
½ teaspoon aji amarillo*
½ teaspoon rocoto pepper puree*
In a large mixing bowl combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce and lime juice. Add cilantro.

Slice the tuna into thin, 1 inch long pieces.

Place the tuna on a serving platter and spoon soy sauce mixture over each slice. Dot each piece with each of purees, aji amarillo and rocoto pepper.
Serves 4
Pescado en Salsa de Coco
Fish in Coconut Sauce
4 red snapper fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)
Juice of 2 limes
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 serrano chile, minced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
½ cup dry white wine, such as sauvignon blanc
1 cup shrimp stock (recipe follows)
1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ cup coarsely chopped mint
½ cup toasted shredded coconut

Rinse the snapper and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, mix the lime juice and half of the garlic together; rub it on both sides of the fish and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery, serrano and remaining garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes, to break down the tomatoes and evaporate the liquid. Pour the stock and coconut milk, season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for 15 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over a medium-high flame. Scrape the garlic from the snapper so it won't burn and season both sides with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, lay the fillets in the pan. Gently press the fish with a spatula to brown, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the fish to the coconut-broth mixture, browned side up. Toss in the mint, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes to finish cooking the fish all the way through.

Serve the snapper with a ladleful of sauce and garnish with the toasted coconut.
Serves 4

Sopa de Chayote
Chayote Soup
Serves 4 To 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
½ fennel bulb, cored and sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seed
3 chayotes, halved, rinsed, and chopped
1 quart canned vegetable broth
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Coat a stockpot with the oil and place over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, fennel, and fennel seed. Cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add the chayotes, stirring to incorporate. Pour in the broth and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered until the chayote is tender.
Remove from the heat. Working in batches, puree the soup and cilantro together in a blender or food processor. Return the pureed soup to the pot off the heat. Stir the cream into the hot soup to lighten it and season with salt and pepper to taste.

CHAYOTE
A member of the gourd family and a relative of zucchini; the watery and mild-tasting flesh is comparable to a cucumber. It looks similar to a large light green pear, but the skin is puckered on the bottom and has grooves running down the sides. Chayote was originally cultivated as a dietary staple in Costa Rica and all over Central America by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, but now it has transcended Latin cuisine; It is used in Cajun dishes (such as stuffed with shrimp Creole) and is grown in Louisiana, where it is called mirliton; in French cuisine, they call it christophine; in the Caribbean, it's cho cho.
To prepare chayotes, remove the waxy skin with a vegetable peeler under running water. Halve the chayote lengthwise, scoop out the soft pit with a spoon, and cut into chunks. Wash your hands to remove the sticky film.

And Last but not least is Michael Symon

Everyone is Cleveland adores Michael Symon. He is the chef and owner of two restaurants, Lola and Lolita, which he opened with his future wife, Liz Shanahan. Michael started his career at 16. After high school, he was graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. Michael was named one of the Ten Best Chefs in America by Food & Wine in 1998. He appeared as an Iron Chef contestant in 1995 and hosted food Network’s ‘Melting Pot’. He has also appeared on ‘Sara’s Secret’ with Sara Moulton, ‘Ready, Set, Cook’ and ‘Food Nation’ with Bobby Flay. He has also been featured in ‘Gourmet’, “Bon Appetit”, ‘Saveur’, ‘Food Arts’, ‘Esquire’ and ‘O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine’.

Lolita is a Mediterranean-themed restaurant which offers plates and boards of house-cured meats and artisanal cheeses.
Michael has received many awards, including ‘Restaurant Hospitality’ magazine’s National Rising Star in 1997, ‘Northern Ohio Live’ magazine named Michael and his restaurants as ‘Best Restaurant and Chef in Northeast Ohio’ in 1998. Cleveland magazine named Lola as its ‘Best New Restaurant’ in 2007 and naming Michael was ‘Best Local Chef’. He was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for ‘Best Chef Great Lakes in 2006’.


CHEESY BLT by Chef Michael Symon

Category: Sandwich
Number of Servings: 12

Ingredients:
3 cups roasted garlic, pureed
24 slices sourdough bread
48 slices Wisconsin Jalapeño Jack cheese
48 slices vine ripened tomatoes
48 fresh basil leaves
48 slices bacon, cooked crisp

Cooking Directions:
Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Spread roasted garlic puree on sourdough bread and top each slice with 2 slices of Jalapeno Jack cheese. Place on baking sheet.

Bake until cheese is melted and bread is toasted, about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven. Layer 12 slices with equal parts of remaining ingredients as follows: 2 slices of tomato, 2 basil leaves, 4 slices bacon, 2 additional basil leaves, 2 remaining tomato slices, remaining 12 slices of cheese-topped bread.

Cut on diagonal and serve.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO AND WISCONSIN ASIAGO TART by Chef Michael Symon

Category: Appetizer
Number of Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:
Dough:*
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup ice water, approximately
3/4 to 1 cup dried beans, for baking weights

Filling:
2 large tomatoes, preferably heirloom
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
3 eggs
4 garlic cloves, roasted and pureed**
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin Asiago cheese, grated
20 basil leaves, for garnish

*Or substitute 9 or 10" prepared, unbaked pie crust.
**To roast and purée garlic: Choose plump cloves. Scatter, unpeeled, in baking pan. Salt and drizzle olive oil over. Bake at 375ºF for 25 minutes. Peel cloves and mash, adding a little olive oil if too dry.

Cooking Directions:
Dough:
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Mix flour, butter, egg yolk and salt with pastry blender until the mixture forms crumbs. Add water, a tablespoon at a time. Incorporate quickly, just until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough in circle 1/8" thick. (If you are using a 9" purchased crust, you may have to roll it a bit thinner than packaged.) Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, crimping the crust around the top. Place foil over the bottom crust. Spread beans over foil to prevent dough from rising. (Alternatively, generously prick the crust, bottom and sides, with a fork.)

Bake about 10 minutes. Remove beans and foil. Set crust aside on cooling rack.

Filling:
Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Peel and seed tomatoes. Cut vertically into eighths. Pat with paper towel to dry.

Mix together cream, eggs, roasted garlic purée and Asiago cheese. Pour mixture into pie pan. Top with tomato pieces. Bake for 30 minutes or until firm in center and lightly colored. Bake 5 to 10 minutes longer if necessary. Let sit on rack 20 minutes.

Garnish the tart with basil leaves and serve.

STRAWBERRY AND RICOTTA GRATIN by Chef Michael Symon

Category: Dessert
Number of Servings: 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups whole milk Wisconsin Ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 each vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 whole eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 pints strawberries, trimmed and quartered

Cooking Directions:
Custard:
Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth. Set over a bowl. Place Ricotta in sieve and refrigerate two hours.

Preheat oven to 350°

Remove Ricotta from refrigerator and discard liquid. Whip the Ricotta. Set aside.

Bring milk, sugar, vanilla beans and cornstarch to a boil. Simmer mixture, stirring, until cornstarch has dissolved and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. Remove vanilla beans and discard.

Whisk in egg yolks.

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whip cream until stiff. Fold the eggs whites, cream and Ricotta into the milk mixture.

Final Preparation:
Divide the strawberries among 12 small, shallow gratin baking dishes.

Pour 1/12 of custard mixture into each dish. Bake 15-20 minutes. Place under broiler until the gratins begin to brown. Remove and serve immediately.

Watch tonight for the first episode of ‘Next Iron Chef’


Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Rumors are Flying...

There are rumors everywhere about who is going to win the “Next Iron Chef” competition, they are even betting in Las Vegas. This is going to be a popular show.

Introducing Chris Cosentino

Chris grew up in Rhode Island. His mother’s family are the Eastons, founders of the Easton Sausage Company. This is where he probably picked up his love for meat. He was raised in the tradition of Atlantic seafood, Yankee fare and classic Italian cooking. He spend his time clamming, commercial fishing and helping his great-grandmother make pasta. Chris was graduated from Johnson & Wales in 1992. After graduation, he worked at Mark Miller’s Red Sage. He totally enjoyed working for Mark Miller and was inspired to read and research cooking procedures, techniques and food lore. He spend his spare time reading from Mark’s prodigious cookbook library. He loves to educate people about food.

Chris moved on to Kinkead’s and then to San Francisco to work under Traci des Jardins at Rubicon. That should make things interesting, since Traci is also a contestant on the show. From there, Drew Nieporent invited him to The Coach House on Martha’s Vineyard. He moved back to California to work at Chez Panisse and as a sous chef at the three-star Belon. He worked as a chef/consultant at Michael Mina’s Aqua group, opening Nob Hill in Las Vegas.

Chris was also greatly influenced by Jean-Louis Palladin. They met while they were both cooking for a gala event in Napa Valley. Palladin taught him to be realistic and respectful about the path an animal takes from the farm or forest to the plate. This sparked his interest in offal cooking.
Chris took over the kitchen at Incanto in 2003 as executive chef. The restaurant soon earned a three-star review from Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Chris lives in the Noe Valley with his wife and son and loves endurance cycling. He is currently working on a definitive cookbook about offals. Thus the name of his website, OffalGood.com

Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Golden Beets and Horseradish
Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings
Ingredients:
Marinade and Beef Hearts:
 3 cloves garlic, skin on
 12 sprigs fresh thyme
 1 cup orange juice
 1½ cups white wine
 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
 1 (2-3 pound) beef heart, trimmed of sinew & gristle, cut into 2-inch by 6-inch pieces
 Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Horseradish Vinaigrette:
 ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
 ¼ cup horseradish, finely grated
 2 Tablespoons orange juice
 Salt and pepper, to taste
 1½ cups pure olive oil
 Extra virgin olive oil

Roasted Golden Beet Salad:
 3 bunches baby golden beets, leaves removed
 2 bulbs garlic, halved
 1 bunch thyme
 1 bunch young flat leaf Italian parsley, leaves picked and separated from stems
 1 cup orange juice
 Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
 Extra virgin olive oil
 Fennel seeds, ground

Garnish:
 1 bunch chives, cut into 1-inch pieces, to garnish
 Horseradish, grated
 Extra virgin olive oil
Method:
For Marinade and Beef Hearts:
In a mortar, use a pestle to crush the garlic and thyme. Mix the garlic, thyme, orange juice, white wine and olive oil in a bowl; let the flavors blend for 1 hour.
Pour marinade over pieces of portioned beef heart. Marinate for 2 hours. Remove beef heart from the marinade, and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Grill the heart to medium-rare, about 3 minutes on each side.
For Horseradish Vinaigrette:
Combine the vinegar, horseradish, orange juice salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the pure olive oil to emulsify. Add extra-virgin olive oil, to taste.
For Roasted Golden Beet Salad:
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Place the beets, garlic, thyme, and parsley stems in a non-reactive roasting pan. Add the orange juice, and enough water and olive oil to coat the beets evenly. Season with ground fennel seeds, salt and pepper, to taste. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil; place the covered pan in the oven and roast the beets until they are fork tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove the pan from heat; uncover and allow to cool. Remove the skin from the beets by gently rubbing them with a dish towel, making sure to retain the shape of the beets.
Cut the beets into different shapes such as rounds and quarters; place in a mixing bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add the chive batons and parsley leaves just before serving.
To Assemble and Serve:
Dress the beet salad in Horseradish Vinaigrette. Toss with the chive batons. Divide the beet salad among warmed serving plates. Thinly slice the warm beef hearts, and place the slices over the salad. Sprinkle freshly grated horseradish over the sliced heart and drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the dish. Serve immediately.
Wine Pairing
At Incanto, sommelier Ed Ruiz suggests pairing this dish with a lighter or softer red wine. Pinot Nero, from the far north of Italy, works well thanks to its lively acidity and cherry notes. If you wanted a red wine with a little more weight and lush fruit, choose a softer style of Montepulciano from either Abruzzo or the Marche. If you prefer white wine, choose something with plenty of weight, texture and richness such as Soave—especially the richer single vineyard wines from Piero Pan.

Seared Lamb Kidneys with Spicy Lentils & Mint
Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com
Yield: 4 Servings
Ingredients:
 4 lamb kidneys
 1 cup milk
 1 cup green lentils
 1 onion
 1 carrot
 1 bulb garlic, split
 1 bay leaf
 1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle, plus additional branch
 1 bunch parsley stems, tied with the thyme
 4 cups chicken stock
 Salt and pepper, to taste
 ½ cup all-purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
 1 clove garlic
 1½ Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to garnish
 ½ cup garlic, slivered
 ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
 ½ cup lemon juice
 1 cup mint, leaves picked
 Extra virgin olive oil
Method:
Soak the kidneys in milk for 2 hours. Remove them from the milk and rinse in cold running water for 1 hour; dry the kidneys. Split each one in half; remove and discard the fibrous membrane from each side of each half.
While the kidneys are soaking, rinse the lentils in cold water. Place them in a non-reactive pot and cover with water; bring to a boil. Once boiled, strain and rinse them again with cold water. Place the lentils in a non-reactive pot with the whole onion, carrot, split garlic head, bay leaf, and tied herb bundle; cover with the chicken stock. Cook the lentils slowly until they are tender, approximately 20-25 minutes. Once tender, remove the vegetables and allow the lentils to cool in their cooking liquid. Strain the lentils and discard the cooking liquid.
Season the kidney halves with salt and pepper; lightly dust with the seasoned flour. Heat butter in a pan. Crack the garlic clove into the pan and add the remaining thyme branch; sizzle for 1 minute and then add the kidneys. Sear both sides of each kidney half until golden brown and medium-rare, or approximately 3 minutes total cooking time. In another pan, heat olive oil and sizzle the slivered garlic and chili flakes. Add the lentils and toss gently to incorporate. Deglaze the pan with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and toss in the torn mint.
To Assemble and Serve:
Place the spicy lentils on warmed serving plates. On each plate, lay 2 kidney halves on top of the lentils; drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Wine Pairing
This dish lends itself well to earthy, textured white wines, according to sommelier Ed Ruiz of Incanto. Greco from a good producer in Campania, such as Terredora, is a natural fit. Another wine that comes to mind is Semillion from Australia. The goal is to match the earthiness of this dish to a wine with earth tones and enough acidity to cleanse the palate. If you prefer red wine, try something with the Sant’Antimo designation made from Sangiovese Grosso, usually blended with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Ferris notes in these wines are a natural with the kidneys.
Recipes courtesy of Star Chef

Introducing Jill Davie

Jill Davie grew up in Los Angeles. Jill always always loved cooking and began her culinary career by preparing dinners for her parents’ dinner parties. At 16, she began work in a bakery, decorating cookies and cakes. She graduated from University of California at Santa Cruz and then on to the Culinary Institute of America.

She was chosen as one of the Top Ten Student Chefs of the Year at the Culinary Institute of America. She received the Food and Wine Baby Chef of the year award in 1996, which was presented by Julia Child.

Within a year of graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, she became the chef de Cuisine at Rockenwagner. She traveled to Munich, Germany to work as a visiting chef at the Lembach. She has been featured in the German magazine, Freudin and honorably mentioned in Art Culinaire, Food Arts and Gourmet magazines. After two years at Rockenwagner, Jill moved to the new satellite, Rock, as the opening chef. Jill spent time as a visiting chef in Chicago at Tru, Blackbird and Trotter’s.

Back to Los Angeles, she joined Josie Le Balch at her new restaurant, Josie, as Chef de Cuisine. Jill also co-hosts “Shopping with Chefs” on the Fine Living TV Network. She is no stranger to TV. She has appeared on Recipe TV, and Food Network’s Ultimate Restaurants, Date Plate, Party Starters and won $10,000.00 at the Hot Chefs: South Beach competition. Jill is also known as the Lemon Lady for SunKist.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Sunkist® Key Lime and Goat Cheese
2 Portobello mushrooms, tips of stems trimmed flush with cap
1 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
4 Sunkist® limes , very thinly sliced, seeded (recipe requires about 24 thin slices)
1 5-oz. log goat cheese, cut into 8 slices
3 Sunkist® limes halved, seeded
1 pinch Freshly ground black pepper

To make one portion:

Preheat broiler and line shallow broiler pan with foil.
Cut mushrooms into quarters.
Brush mushrooms with olive oil.
On each mushroom quarter, place three lime slices (overlap as little as possible) and one piece of goat cheese.
Place on prepared pan and broil until mushroom is soft and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes.
Place on serving platter by forming a bow-tie shape with each pair of mushroom quarters.
Drizzle stuffed mushrooms with olive oil and a squeeze of Key lime juice; finish with freshly ground pepper to serve.
Makes 4 servings
Recipe courtesy of Sunkist

"High Roller" Mushroom Puff Pastry Recipe courtesy Jill Davie
Show: Party Starters
Episode: Casino Surprise Birthday/ Greek Festival
1 (12 by 18-inch) sheet puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 pound oyster mushrooms, quartered
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, quartered
1/4 pound portobello mushrooms, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
Salt
Black pepper
1 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups cream

For the dice puff pastries:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the puff pastry into 60 even squares. Using a pastry brush, brush each square with the beaten egg. Place the squares on a greased sheet pan. Apply the black sesame seeds to the egg wash on top of the squares in different patterns to make them look like dice. Bake the puffs until golden brown about 12 minutes. Let the puffs cool. Cut the puffs in half horizontally for sandwiching.

For the mushrooms:
Clean and cut all the mushrooms. Heat a large saute pan. Add the cooking oil and saute mushrooms in small batches seasoning with garlic, shallots, salt and pepper. Spread sauteed mushrooms out onto a large tray and allow to cool. Chop the mushrooms and return them to the saute pan. Add the white wine and reduce until the liquid is almost completely evaporated. Add the cream and reduce again until thick.
To assemble:
Place one scoop of mushroom mixture on the bottom layer of the puff pastry and then top with the other layer to form the sandwich.
This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
Recipe courtesy of The Food Network


Introducing Traci Des Jardins

Traci is the executive chef and co-owner of Jardiniere, Mijita and Acme Chophouse. She was raised on a farm in San Joaquin Valley, California. Growing up many cuisines graced the dinner table at her house. Her mother’s heritage is Mexican and her father’s heritage is Louisiana-French Acadian and Swedish and Norwegian. By the age of four, she was baking cookies.
Traci was the chef at the Rubicon from the opening in March, 1994 until 1997, when she opened her own restaurant, Jardiniere. Jardiniere has French-influenced cooking.
Traci won the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef: Pacific” and “Rising Star Chef of the Year”. Food & Wine Magazine named her “Best New Chef” and San Francisco Magazine named her “Chef of the Year”. Esquire Magazine named Jardiniere as the “Best New Restaurant” The James Beard Foundation nominated Jardiniere for “Best New Restaurant 1998”.
Traci has worked In several kitchens for Joachim Splichal. The last was Patina. She has also worked at Montrachet in New York and The three-star Troisgros in Roanne, France.
Traci has a five year old son, Eli.

Shrimp and Avocado Salad
FAST
HEALTHY
TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN
SERVES: 4
Traci Des Jardins created this refreshing salad to showcase one of her favorite Latin ingredients, the avocado. She tasted her first avocado during a visit to her Grandma Salazar in Mexico; she would snack on it at taco and fruit stands on the street, where it is typically served with fresh lime juice and chile salt.
ingredients
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 large grapefruit
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/4-inch lengthwise wedges
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound shelled and deveined large shrimp
One 5-ounce head of Boston lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread the pumpkin seeds in a pie plate or on a small baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the olive oil with the lime juice, shallot and cilantro. Using a sharp knife, peel the grapefruit, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over the bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the grapefruit sections into the bowl. Squeeze the juice from the membranes into the bowl; discard the membranes. Gently fold in the avocado and season with salt and pepper.
3. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, tossing the shrimp until they are curled and pink, about 4 minutes.
4. Arrange the lettuce on a platter. Using a slotted spoon, lift the grapefruit and avocado from the citrus vinaigrette and gently spread over the lettuce. Add the shrimp to the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Arrange the shrimp over the salad and drizzle the remaining citrus dressing on top. Scatter the toasted pumpkin seeds on top and serve right away.
Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine

Parmigiano Reggiano Velouté with Prosciutto di Parma Crisps and Pink Pearl Apples
Chef Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière – San Francisco, CA
Adapted by StarChefs.com
March 2007
Yield: 6 Servings
Ingredients:
Parmigiano-Reggiano Stock:
 1 pound Parmigiano Reggiano, roughly chopped
 5 ounces Prosciutto di Parma, 1-inch pieces
 2 bulbs fennel
 2 white onions, peeled and quartered
 2 heads garlic, cut in half
 1 lemon, quartered
 Sachet of parsley, sage and thyme
 1 gallon water

Velouté:
 3 ounces Prosciutto di Parma
 1 teaspoon olive oil
 3 onions, roughly chopped
 3 leeks, roughly chopped
 1 head garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
 2 bulbs fennel
 ¼ cup all purpose flour
 1 cup dry white wine
 1 lemon, thinly sliced
 1 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano
 Sachet of parsley, sage and thyme
 Parmigiano-Reggiano Stock
 1 quart cream
 1 cup crème fraiche
 Juice of 1 lemon
 Salt and pepper

Prosciutto Crisps:
 12 grams all purpose flour
 Salt and pepper
 20 grams water
 1 gram vinegar
 2 ounces Prosciutto di Parma, rendered and finely chopped

Pink Pearl Apple Purée:
 3 ounces Prosciutto di Parma rind
 1 sprig sage
 2 shallots, thinly sliced
 4 Pink Pearl apples, peeled, cored and quartered
 ½ cup dry white wine
 ½ cup Prosciutto di Parma fat, rendered and strained
 Salt and pepper

Salad:
 1 Pink Pearl apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
 ½ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
 ½ bunch chervil, roughly chopped
 Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
 Lemon juice, to taste
 Salt and pepper
Method:
For the Parmigiano-Reggiano Stock:
Combine the Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, fennel, onions, garlic, lemon, herbs and water in a large non-reactive pot and simmer. Skim off impurities for 1 ½ hours. Strain and reserve, keeping warm.
For the Velouté:
In a non-reactive pot render the prosciutto in olive oil and add the onions, leeks, garlic and fennel and sweat for five minutes. Add the flour and sauté for several minutes, then deglaze with the white wine and cook off the alcohol. Add the lemon, Parmigiano-Reggiano, sachet and reserved Parmigiano-Reggiano Stock. Allow to simmer for 1 ½ hours, then remove the sachet and Prosciutto di Parma. Blend the mixture until smooth and pass through a fine china cap. Add the lemon juice and season with Salt and pepper to taste. Reserve, keeping warm.
For the Prosciutto di Parma Crisps:
Preheat oven to 300ºF. Sift the flour, salt and pepper together. Mix the water and vinegar in a separate bowl, then whisk this mixture into the dry ingredients. Pass this mixture through a chinois and spread on a Silpat, to 1/8-inch thick. Season with additional salt and pepper and sprinkle with the Prosciutto di Parma. Bake for 4 minutes, then remove and slice to desired shape. Return to the oven and bake until golden brown.
For the Pink Pearl Apple Purée:
In a non-reactive pan, render the prosciutto rind with the sage, then add the shallot and apples. Sweat the mixture until the pan begins to dry, then deglaze with the wine and cover the pot so the wine slowly evaporates. Once dry, remove the sage and blend the mixture with the rendered Prosciutto di Parma fat until smooth. Pass through a fine china cap and season with salt and pepper. Reserve, keeping warm.
For the Salad:
Combine the Pink Pearl apple, parsley, chervil, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
To Assemble and Serve:
Spread a small amount of apple purée on a plate and top with the salad. Place two Prosciutto di Parma crisps to one side of the salad. Fill a warm bowl with Velouté and serve hot.
Wine Pairing:
Champagne Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Rosé

Recipe courtesy of Star Chef





Sunday, September 30, 2007

Meet One of the "Next Iron Chef" Challengers

Introducing Executive Chef John Besh

John Besh grew up in Southern Louisiana. He loved to hunt and fish and soon found out about the culinary traditions of Louisiana. “With all the cultural influences in Louisiana,” he says, “it’s an exciting place to learn about food.” He has traveled and studied all over the world.
He has worked at prestigious establishments such as Maxim's in New York , The Windsor Court's Grill Room in New Orleans and the Cinnamon Tree in Baltimore. He travels to France every year as a chef consultant to train fellow chefs in the fine points of Louisiana cuisine.
His restaurant group owns and operates four restaurants. He also runs BRG Catering and a restaurant consulting firm named Olivet. In his spare time, he grows mico-vegetables and raises laying hens and Gulf Coast sheep. As if that was not enough to keep him busy, he is working on a line of artisanal butters and a cookbook featuring Louisiana, Ma Louisianne.
Food & Wine Magazine featured one of his recipes, which I am sure that you will enjoy.

Besh's Fried Goat Cheese and Frisée Salad
SERVES: 6
ingredients
One 11- to 12-ounce log of goat cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon walnut oil
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 small plums, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 small head frisée, large leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons minced oil-cured black olives
6 thin slices country ham or prosciutto (about 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced chives
Directions
1. Cut the goat cheese into 6 equal rounds and gently shape each piece into a 2 1/2-inch medallion. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of the rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle both sides of the goat cheese with the garlic mixture.
2. Put the flour, egg and bread crumbs into 3 separate shallow bowls. Dredge the goat-cheese medallions in the flour, then dip in the egg and coat with the bread crumbs. Transfer the breaded medallions onto a platter lined with wax paper and refrigerate until chilled.
3. In a small bowl, whisk 2 teaspoons of the vinegar with the honey until dissolved. Whisk in the walnut oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic and 1/4 teaspoon rosemary. Add the sugar and stir over moderately high heat until it dissolves. Add the plums and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the plum mixture to a blender along with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the water and blend until smooth. Return the plum sauce to the saucepan and keep warm.
5. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Add the goat-cheese medallions and cook over moderately high heat until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes per side.
6. In a large bowl, toss the frisee with the walnut vinaigrette and olives and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the plum sauce onto 6 plates. Set 1 goat-cheese medallion in the center of each plate and arrange a slice of the country ham alongside with a little of the frisee. Sprinkle with the chives and serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD The goat-cheese medallions can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days.

Recipe tip: Before dredging food in flour, let it firm up in the refrigerator for 15 minutes; this makes for easier handling and a more even coating.

In 1999, Food and Wine named him one of the “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America”. Gourmet Magazine named his Restaurant August as one of America’s Top Fifty Restaurants. In 2006, he won the Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southeast. Zagat Guide rates his Restaurant August as the #1 restaurant in New Orleans.
In 2006, he competed in an Iron Chef Competition against Mario Batali and won in an andouille sausage battle.
Besh received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America. He also trained in Europe. In the Black Forest region of Germany, he experienced truly localized cuisine. This made such an impression on him that he has made it his own style of cooking. Besh also served in the Marines’ infantry during Operation Desert Storm.
A true test of his stamina came with Hurricane Katrina. Not only did he get his own restaurants (Restaurant August and Besh Steak) up and running, but he also helped rebuild other establishments; such as Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which is a culinary landmark in new Orleans. He also acquired La Provence in Lacombe, La. from his late mentor, Chef Chris Kerageorgiou and opened Luke, a brasserie in the grand New Orleans tradition.
In his spare time, he is a spokesman for the Louisiana Seafood Council and a board member of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. He also works on a state program promoting Louisiana Cuisine. Just in case, he had even more spare time, he grows organic produce for his restaurants and is raising his own livestock – Bershire Pigs, Gulf Coast Sheep & Charolais cattle.

This is one busy man.






Saturday, September 29, 2007

Great Video!

A picture is worth a 1000 words. With that said, check out the promo video for the "Next Iron Chef" http://www2.ciachef.edu/nic/. This is a show that I can't wait to watch. If you are a serious foodie, you will find this show fascinating! What is the difference between a chef and a home cook? Watch and find out. Even though we don't cook professionally, we can always learn tips from the masters. The main ingredient in culinary skills is understanding food, not just how to prep, not just what cooking method to use, not just what to pair with the food, or not just what spices to use, but they understand the WHY of an ingredient. Learn from the Pros.





Friday, September 28, 2007

Rachael Ray to Get a New Look

Rachael is trading in the mom jeans and tops for a little different look. James Jeans will be the style with flared jeans and jersey tops from Splendid. Ballet shoes always work well in the kitchen.

Rachael is very self-conscious about her body (who wouldn’t be, when people are guessing that you might be pregnant). She is a size six and has decided that she wants to dress thinner. On her talk show, she has been wearing a lot of Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses that give a more slender look. Maybe we can learn more from her show than cooking.


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Off Topic, But What the Heck!

Sometimes, I go off topic. Since I mentioned some of the European Culinary capitals in the last post, I thought I would tell you about some of the great restaurants.

What are the very best restaurants? Here’s the top 50, according to The S. Pellegrino Report for 2007.


1. El Bulli - Spain (Best Restaurant in Europe)
2. The Fat Duck - UK (Chef's Choice)
3. Pierre Gagnaire - France
4. The French Laundry - USA (Best in the Americas)
5. Tetsuya's - Australia (Best in Australasia)
6. Bras - France
7. Mugaritz - Spain
8. Le Louis XV - Monaco
9. Per Se - USA
10. Arzak - Spain
11. El Celler de Can Roca - Spain
12. Gambero Rosso - Italy
13. L'Atelier Joël Robuchon - France
14. Hof van Cleve - Belgium
15. Noma - Denmark
16. Le Calandre - Italy
17. Nobu London - UK
18. Jean Georges - USA
19. Hakkasan - UK
20. Alain Ducasseau Plaza Athénée - France
21. L'Astrance - France
22. Can Fabes - Spain
23. L'Ambroisie - France
24. Restaurant Gordon Ramsey - UK
25. Troisgros - France
26. Le Bernardin - USA
27. Martin Berasategui - Spain
28. Le Gavroche - UK
29. Le Cinq - France
30. Charlie Trotter's - USA
31. Dal Pescatore - Italy
32. Daniel - USA
33. Rockpool - Australia
34. St John - UK
35. Chez Dominique - Finland
36. Alinea - USA (Highest New Entry)
37. Bukhara - India (Best in Asia)
38. DOM - Brazil
39. Oaxen Skärgårdskrog - Sweden
40. Chez Panisse - USA
41. Enoteca Pinchiorri - Italy
42. Cracco Peck - Italy
43. L'Arpège - France
44. River Café - UK
45. Oud Sluis - Netherlands
46. Combal Zero - Italy
47. Le Quartier Français - South Africia (Best in Mid East & Africa)
48. Taillevent - France
49. Bocuse - France
50. Les Ambassadeurs - France

The fifty best by Nation:
France 12
USA 8
UK 7
Spain 6
Italy 6
Australia 2
Belgium 1
Denmark 1
Finland 1
Sweden 1
India 1
Brazil 1
Netherlands 1
Monaco 1


We are moving up on the list. America Can Cook!





I'm Really Looking Forward to this Show.

The “next Iron Chef” premieres Sunday, October 7th at 9:00 p.m. on the Food Network. Who will join Mario Batali, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay and Masahuru Mormoto as an Iron Chef? The challenge will have six episodes, ending November 11th. The winner will begin their reign starting November 18th with the new season of “Iron Chef America”. The show will move from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. to Europe. I haven’t found out where in Europe, but I’m assuming that Paris or Lyons will be one stop. Spain is moving up in the culinary world with El Bulli. London should be on the list with the “Fat Duck”. The possibilities are endless. The chefs will have to show their speed, artistry, flair for simplicity, innovation, resourcefulness, creativity and leadership.

Watch for upcoming profiles of the contestants.



Thursday, September 27, 2007

October 14th at Noon

The Premier of “The Gourmet Next Door” starts Sunday, October 14th. Amy Finley, the winner of the last “Next Food Network Star”, begins her new show about easy gourmet cooking.
Amy attended culinary school (Gregoire Ferrandi’s Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise) in France. Amy loves to cook and travel. She has written a travel book about Italy. Amy lives in San Diego with her husband (who is French) and their two children.


New Food Network Shows in the Making
The Television Food Network has filed multiple trademark applications for new TV shows, including:

• Sugar Shack: Emeril is hosting a Sugar Shack event at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (21-24 Feb 2008).
• Plate and Switch
• Snack Attack
• Alex on Fire





Who Had the Most Air Time on Food Network Last Month?

Who Had the Most Air-Time on Food Network last month?

Who bumped Emeril off the ‘coveted’ 8:00 p.m. prime time slot on weekdays?

During the week of August 20th, Rachael Ray had 10 ½ hours of air time, Paula Deen had 10 hours and Emeril Lagasse only had 8 hours. Alton Brown had 23 ½ hours on air time and received the 8:00 slot.

Alton could be known as the professor. If you need to know anything about cooking, he is the guy to see. Has Alton always been a foodie?

Alton Brown (age 45) lives with his wife DeAnna and 7-year-old daughter Zoey in Marietta, Georgia. After being graduated from University of Georgia, Alton spend 10 years as a cinematographer and video director. During breaks, Alton watched a lot of cooking shows on TV. He liked the concept of cooking shows, but found them rather dull and thought that he could do a better job. So, Alton and DeAnna
moved to Vermont, where Alton trained at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier. He developed “Good Eats”. This show is totally Alton. He writes, produces and stars in the show on Food Network. The show mixes wit with wisdom and has quite a cult following. Mike Menninger created a fan website for Alton. Every show is transcribed on this site; in fact, Alton’s crew has been known to reference it. Alton will have 191 episodes of “Good Eats” filmed by the end of the year. He would like to do at least 200 episodes, but his contract with Food Network expires December 31st.


Alton’s shows:

Good Eats
Feasting on Asphalt
Iron Chef America (color commentator)
Next Iron Chef (color commentator) coming October 7th.

Alton’s Books:

I’m Just Here for the Food (2002) (won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Cookbook in the Reference category) (over 300,000 copies sold)

Gear for Your Kitchen (2003) nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Cookbook in the Tools & Techniques category and an IACP Cookbook Award in the Food Reference/Technical category.

I’m Just Here for More Food (2004) (NY Times Best Seller)

Why does Alton do some of the crazy antics that you see on the show. He doesn’t believe that he has the charisma to carry it.

This year, Alton shot 20 episodes of “Good Eats”, spent a month riding a motorcycle up the Mississippi River and sampling ‘good eats’ at mom & pop eateries for his show “Feasting on Asphalt 2”, hosted the new show “The Next Iron Chef” and is currently being the color commentator for “Iron Chef America”. In his spare time, he crams food knowledge into his head.



















Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are You a Real Foodie?

If you are a real foodie, Rachael Ray may be looking for you. “So You Think You Can Cook?” is her challenge to ‘wannabe’ chefs. You can not be a chef or be specially trained to cook for a living. She is looking for a foodie. What is a foodie? Someone, who totally enjoys food and cooking.

The candidates will dwindle down to the top five. Then, there is just one catch, you will have to undergo two weeks of intense challenges. The winner will be announced in late November.

What do you win –
1. Co-host the Rachael Ray Show for a day.
2. Receive training at a U.S. culinary institute (this could be amazing!)
3. Your original recipe published in ‘Every Day with Rachael Ray’ (Get those recipes ready!)

Contest rules are posted on Rachael’s website, http://www.rachaelray.com.

The deadline for entries is October 3rd.

Some things that you may not know about Rachael Ray.

Rachael was born in Glen Falls, New York on August 25, 1968, and grew up around food. Her father is a Cajun from Louisiana – Creole, a mix of Welsh and French. Add Sicilian to the mix, from her mother, and you get some real food lovers. Rachael worked in several of her families’ restaurants. Then, decided to try her luck at Macy’s fresh-food department in New York. From there, she moved on to managing pubs and restaurants on Lake George. She then made her move to TV with a 30 minute meal segment for the local news on CBS in Albany. That is where the Food Network found her.

She married musician, John Cusimano, in 2005. Their home is on Lake Luzerne in upstate New York.

In the past 12 months, Rachael has filmed 285 episodes of her various shows. In her spare time, she runs the magazine ‘Every Day with Rachael Ray’ and has written 14 cookbooks.




Friday, September 14, 2007

And That's Italian!

Did you like the Sopranos? One of the most liked actors on the show was Steven Schirripa (Bobby). Can he act, yes. Can he cook, we’ll see. Steve Schirripa’s Hungry will premier in December on the Lifeskool Newtwork. This nine-episode show will feature ‘what else’, Italian-American dishes from his cookbook “The Goomba Diet: Living Large and Lovin’ It which was published last year.
Steve will introduce some of his favorite New York restaurants. You will meet top chefs and learn to slice and dice. Learn about cheeses and cannolis. It sounds like fun!

"It's going to be a mixture of comedy, history [of foods] and of course the cooking part and the stuff about lifestyle," Schirripa told the trade. "I'm a regular guy, and this is regular food for the masses. Whether you're here in New York or in St. Louis or Ohio, you're going to relate to it."


Even though the show ‘Sopranos’ is over, the name still carries on – in the supermarkets. Of course, spaghetti sauce will be offered. Salad dressings, starting with Caesar dressing, frozen pizzas, olive oil, and barbecue sauce will also appear.


Yesterday morning, I saw “Behind the Bash” with Giada on the Food Network. It featured the premier party for the Sopranos. What a party! They decked out the Roseland Ball Room as an Italian street fair. The Sopranos invited 1000 friends and got down to the business of having a good time.

I always think that it’s interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. They showed the design crew come in that morning and set up red banners and thousands of lights. Vendor stalls were erected, displaying all types of Italian food. A few real vendors were invited to participate, some of the vendors were already known to the Sopranos stars.

Then there was the food - tons and tons of food. It amazes me to see how that quantity and quality of food is prepared.

One of the food items that was featured was the All-American favorite – PIZZA. But not just any pizza, it was a thin crusted Focaccia Pizza with fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella.


Thin Crusted Focaccia Pizza with Fresh Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella
Recipe courtesy Match Catering
Show: Behind the Bash
Episode: Sopranos Premiere Party
Dough:
2 cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
2 1/2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons for greasing the baking pan
1/2-ounce dry yeast
1/2-ounce honey
1 3/4 pounds all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
3/4-ounce kosher salt
1/2 cup cornmeal, to dust baking pan
Pizza:
18 Roma or Italian plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup packed basil leaves, chiffonade
6 cups grated mozzarella
Salt and white pepper

Preheat a convection oven to 325 degrees F or a regular oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the water, 2 1/2 ounces of olive oil, yeast and honey. Allow the yeast to proof for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt, and mix with a dough hook on medium speed until the dough is pliable and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is a little wet, you may need to add a little more flour. The dough should be moist, but not stick to the hands. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Brush the remaining olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet about 18-by-26-inches and dust with the cornmeal. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4-inch thick and prick the dough all over with a fork or rolling docker. Brush off any excess flour and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake the dough until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Cool.

When the dough has cooled, evenly top with focaccia with the tomato slices, covering the entire surface and lightly season with kosher salt and white pepper. Sprinkle with the basil chiffonade and lightly top with the mozzarella. You should be able to see the tomatoes through the cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and slightly colored. Cool the pizza slightly and cut into 2-bite triangles.

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.


The finale was a Hazelnut Layer Cake with Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache and Toasted and Gilded Hazelnuts. This cake was amazing! When people talk about a cake that is rich, they usually mean the taste of the ingredients. But this cake was rich in another sense, there were $275.00 worth of gold gilded hazelnuts on top. Here is the recipe.

Hazelnut Layer Cake with Espresso Buttercream, Chocolate Frangelico Ganache and Toasted and Gilded Hazelnuts
Recipe courtesy Match Catering
Show: Behind the Bash
Episode: Sopranos Premiere Party
3 3/4 pounds hazelnut flour
1 1/4 pounds all-purpose flour
32 eggs
2 pounds sugar, plus 1 3/4 pounds sugar
48 egg whites
Frangelico and Espresso Simple Syrup, recipe follows
Espresso Buttercream, recipe follows
Chocolate Frangelico Ganache, recipe follows
4 pounds hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped, for garnish
Gilded Hazelnuts, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F on convection or 350 degrees F in a regular oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnut and all purpose flour, breaking up any lumps. Set aside.
In the mixing bowl of a 20-quart standing mixer set on high speed, whip together the whole eggs and 2 pounds of sugar until tripled in volume, pale yellow and forming thick ribbons, warming the bowl of the mixer with a propane torch to increase the volume of the eggs. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl of a 20-quart standing mixer set on high speed, whip the egg whites and remaining 1 3/4 pounds sugar until thick, glossy, and firm peaks form. Fold the flour mixture into the whole egg and sugar mixture, and then fold in the egg whites.

Divide the batter equally onto 6 (18-by-26-inch) parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until the corners brown and the batter doesn't adhere to your fingers when you touch the cake, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

To assemble the cake: Place a layer of the hazelnut cake on a prepared cake board or inverted sheet pan. Brush with about one-sixth of the simple syrup and spread a generous layer of the buttercream over top. Place another layer of the cake on top and soak with the simple syrup. Spread a layer of buttercream and then a layer of ganache. Place the next layer of cake and repeat the previous steps until you have used all 6 layers of hazelnut sponge cake, ending with a layer of buttercream on the top.

Chill the cake completely to set. When chilled, trim the sides, and frost with a final layer of buttercream, reserving some buttercream for garnish. Return to the refrigerator again to set the top. Spread the remaining ganache over the top to make a smooth finished coat. Trim any excess ganache from the sides of the cake.

Press the toasted and chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake. Decorate the cake with buttercream piped from a star tip filled pastry bag, and decorate with the gilded hazelnuts.

Frangelico and Espresso Simple Syrup:
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup Frangelico liqueur
1 cup strong coffee
Combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved and the alcohol has evaporated. Cool completely.
Yield: 8 cups

Espresso Buttercream:
2 1/4 pounds sugar
Water, to moisten sugar
32 egg whites
6 pounds butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coffee extract
Pour sugar and just enough water to moisten it in a large heavy bottomed pot. Bring sugar to a boil, stirring constantly. Brush down any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pot with pastry brush dipped in water. Once the sugar has come to a boil, stop stirring and cook the sugar to the soft ball stage or 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. When the sugar reaches 240 degrees F, reduce the heat to low and whip the egg whites on high speed in a 20-quart standing mixer to firm peaks. While the mixer is on high, carefully pour the melted sugar into the whipped egg whites, being careful not to burn yourself on the molten sugar. Once the sugar is combined with the egg whites, reduce the mixer speed to medium, and continue to whip the egg whites and sugar until completely cool, approximately 30 minutes. When the egg white meringue is cool, turn the mixer back up to high, and gradually add the cubed butter. The butter may separate and become watery, but continue to whip on high until the water is re-incorporated. It is very important that the egg white meringue is completely cool so as not to melt the butter. When all the butter has been added, continue to beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the coffee and vanilla extracts.
Yield: 19 cups

Frangelico Ganache:
10 pounds semisweet or 54-percent cocoa chocolate, pistols or chopped
16 cups heavy cream
1 cup Frangelico liqueur
Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream and Frangelico to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes and then whisk together until smooth and all of the chocolate is melted. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature so it reaches a spreadable consistency.
Yield: 16 cups
Gilded Hazelnuts:
1 pound hazelnuts, toasted
Nonstick cooking spray
Gold leaf (*See cook's note)
Lightly spray the hazelnuts with nonstick cooking spray and wipe off any excess. Place a single nut on the gold leaf and gently brush the gold onto the nut. Set aside to garnish the finished cake.
*Cook's Note: Gold leaf is edible and available at specialty spice and pastry supply stores.
Yield: 1 pound hazelnuts


This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.


In case you would be interested, the Sopranos food is Neapolitan food. This style of food is based in southern Italy around the Naples area. Neapolitan food is simple, fresh and wholesome. It is not fussy food.

Food Trivia
A cookbook helped to standardize the Italian language.. In 1891, Pellegrino Artusi published
“The Science of Cookery and the Art of Eating”. Up until that time, each region of Italy had its own dialect. Artusi’s cookbook, which was written in formal Italian, was so popular that it greatly influenced the creation of a common language for the entire country.




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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mario is Back?

Seems that Food Network can't make up its mind.

“Mario Batali is still a major part of the Food Network family. He is currently in production on new episodes of ‘Iron Chef America’ and we are also still filming specials with him as well, such as last springs’ ‘Chefography.’ We support him in his outside endeavors and look forward to continuing our long-standing relationship with Mario. - Food Network Spokesperson”





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