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Archive for the ‘Chefs’ Category

Big Game Bash – Bobby Flay

I was just visiting over at the Food Network website when I laid eyes on this pizza. My mouth immediately started watering! (Bobby Flay has that effect on me too!) I knew that I had to share this with my readers. Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday!

Pizza with NY Strip, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Glaze

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

Prep Time:
55 min
Inactive Prep Time:
2 hr 20 min
Cook Time:
15 min

Level:
Intermediate

Serves:
4 servings

Ingredients
Balsamic Glaze:

2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steak:

1 (12-ounce) NY strip steak
Canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pizza
1/2 recipe Pizza Dough rolled into 2 (10-inch) rounds, recipe follows or 2 store-bought pizza dough
Canola oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (recommended: Cabrales)
Grilled steak
1 bunch watercress, coarsely chopped
Balsamic Glaze
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

For the glaze:

Bring vinegar to a boil in a small nonreactive saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup. Stir in the honey and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the steak:

Heat grill to high. Brush steak on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown and slightly charred on both sides and cooked to medium-rare doneness, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill to a cutting board, tent lightly with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/4-inch thick slices.

For the pizza:

Heat the grill to high.

Brush both sides of the pizzas with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill, divide the Monterey Jack cheese over the top of each one and then sprinkle with the blue cheese. Place back on the grill, close the cover of the grill and grill until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Remove to a flat surface, divide the steak between each pizza, then top with the watercress Drizzle with some of the balsamic glaze and sprinkle with some of the shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Pizza Dough:

2/3 cup lukewarm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for oiling bowl
1 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons coarse salt

In a large bowl stir together 1/3 cup water, yeast, and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 3/4 cups flour, cornmeal, and salt and blend until the mixture forms a dough. Knead dough on a floured surface, incorporating as much of remaining 1/4 cup flour, as necessary, to prevent dough from sticking, until smooth about 5 to 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.

Lightly oil the sides and bottom of a large bowl with oil, add the dough, turn to coat in the oil, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Gently punch the dough down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 10-inch circle that is 1/8-inch thick. Brush off excess flour and transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover each circle of dough with plastic wrap and continue stacking rolled out pieces on top of each other. Wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill.

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Paula Deen Has Diabetes – So What?

“Everything in moderation… including moderation.” – Julia Child

Here’s where I weigh in (pun intended) on the firestorm that ensued after Paula Deen‘s confession that she has known she has Type II diabetes for three years. Basically… so?

A good public relations decision for Deen would have been to have come clean three years ago about her diabetes. But is she really required to disclose her medical history? Do we know the health concerns of other celebrity chefs? Because she has diabetes, does that make it forbidden for her to cook anything other than “diabetic” food? I really fail to see the logic in all the “Shame on you, Paula Deen!” mentality.

Julia Child knew what was what. In addition to her rather famous quote above about moderation, she has also said, “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit. ” Is Julia vilified because she advocated getting loaded? No. Is Keith Richards a “bad role model” because he plays the guitar with arthritic hands? Is he “promoting” an activity that may or may not bring on a physical affliction? (The answer to that is, or had better be, a resounding, “HELL NO!”)

The thing is… and this is a shocker… Paula Deen is NOT the only celebrity cook who uses ingredients that are less than healthy for you. Hell, I found a fairly decadent fettucine recipe in one of my Cooking Light magazines! Butter, half-and-half, (less fat) cream cheese and TEN strips of bacon! Cooking “light?” Indeed.

The Food Network, publishing companies, celebrity chefs… anybody who promotes cooking and food is usually doing so TO MAKE MONEY. Like it or not, we are a capitalistic society.

I’m not saying that a lot of her food isn’t bad for you. A lot of it is. She does really like butter and mayonnaise. But the bottom line is, Americans are fat because of the choices we make, and changes in our society that make physical exertion less likely than it used to be. Paula Deen cooks on television. She doesn’t come into our homes and shove pie down our… well… pieholes. We do that. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF WHAT WE EAT.

Deen has expressed dismay that more chefs haven’t come forth in support of her. That too is a public relations decision, on their part. Emeril Lagasse did speak out in support of Deen. He disclosed that although he does not have Type II diabetes, it runs in his family. “We in our household have been dealing with it [diabetes] for many, many years. In the words of Julia Child, ‘it’s about moderation.'” (See? Always listen to Julia!) Take a look at Emeril on Good Morning America:
Emeril Lagasse Talks Paula Deen, Diabetes, Makes Braised Pot Roast With Vegetables.

The Chew

This afternoon I was flipping through channels, trying to drown out the howling wind. I decided to start at the bottom, which for me is channel 5/ABC. What to my wondering eyes do appear, but Michael Symon and Bobby Flay. Then… I see the title of the show. “The Chew.” I watched Bobby Flay and Michael Symon rockin’ a grilled steak.

Iron Chef Michael Symon explaining video game

Image by Caroline on Crack via Flickr

I still couldn’t believe this series was really named The Chew, though. It almost seemed like the name of a satire. So, I Google’d it. Sure enough! I don’t know where I’ve been since last September, but that’s when the show started… taking the place of All My Children. Hallelujah. Do people really even watch soaps anymore? (No hate-mail, please!)

The Chew stars Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz. From ABC’s website, “The Chew celebrates and explores life through food, with a group of dynamic, engaging, fun, relatable co-hosts who serve up everything to do with food — from cooking and home entertaining to food trends, restaurants, holidays and more — all aimed at making life better, fuller and more fun.  It is broadcast live, weekdays, from New York City.”

Take a look at it! I’m going to be a regular viewer from now on. Especially… if Bobby Flay is on!

How to temper chocolate

I just read The Pioneer Woman’s latest blogpost – Chef Lia’s dark chocolate truffles. She does some amazing things with chocolate, but one thing that stuck with me was the necessity of tempering your chocolate. This of course led to a Google search, which led to Youtube.

And so dear readers, here is Jacques Torres explaining how to temper chocolate, all in his wickedly delicious French accent.

Zingaro 515

If you haven’t heard about Zingaro 515 yet, you need to! After hearing much buzz on Twitter and in the Des Moines Register about Zingaro opening in Sherman Hills, I decided that I needed to investigate, and inform my readers about this new dining experience.

Zingaro 515 opened on Dec. 2, and is located in the Scheuerman House in Sherman Hills, at 1605 Woodland Ave. Zingaro is self-described as, “A chef-driven restaurant in the heart of Sherman Hill. With an approach unseen with in the Des Moines culinary world.”

The sight of the house brought back an immediate childhood memory for me. I lived in the Sherman Hills district during most of my childhood. My family would go on walks, sometimes “downtown”  and we always walked right past the Scheuerman House, which is directly across the street to the west of Hoyt Sherman Place. Rumor has it that I was a stubborn child, and disliked walking anything but SLOW. About the point at which I would get tired and start to lag just happened to be right in the vicinity of the Scheuerman house! I can still remember it.

Anyway, after further research I discovered that Zingaro 515 is a “pop-up” restaurant. Local chef/blogger Sam Auen gives a superb explanation in his blog, Locally Grown.

“Pop-ups are popping up in larger cities (shocker) and play on a chef’s creativity.  It’s a way for those chefs without big money backing to expose the world to the product of their obsessive culinary nature.  The goal of these places is not to become a fixture, but to burn brightly then move on to something new.  Sometimes these ventures are a testing ground for the viability of a concept or to showcase an intended static restaurant concept to the public and especially to people who may want to invest in the particular chef’s future.  Did you catch that one?  This is awesome semi-guerilla dining at its rawest.”

I contacted York Taenzer, owner of the Schuerman House, to ask about featuring the house and Zingaro 515 on my blog. I was lucky enough to be invited to view the house and chat with both Taenzer and Chef Hal Jasa. Chef Jasa is well known in the Des Moines area. He was also a chef at 25th St. Cafe and Phat Chefs, and more recently did underground dinners with the Des Moines Social Club. Jasa also had the honor of being featured as “100 Tastes to Try in 2007” in Food & Wine magazine. He’s number 51 – “Clandestine Dinners” if you want to go take a look.

Chef Jasa chatted with me about his passion for food. His specialties are charcuterie, and sauces.  According to Wikipedia, charcuterie is “the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.[1] Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef‘s repertoire. Originally intended as a way to preserve meats before the advent of refrigeration, they are prepared today for their flavors derived from the preservation processes.[2]

Jasa also experiments with scents that he says opens up the palate. He recently featured orange creme brulee on the menu, which included “pine.” Jasa showed me how he used one dish to place a bed of rock salt, and an actual sprig of pine, then placed the creme brulee in a dish nestled in the rock salt. He is also using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream at the tables – something that excited one of my readers greatly when I shared that fact with her.

The Scheuerman House itself is a grand old Victorian home with ornate Golden oak woodwork, a fitting showcase for Chef Jasa’s culinary genius.

Authentic Victorian furnishings

A grand piano

and an elegant dining room

Zingaro will be open Thursday and Friday evenings from 5:30 to close. Diners can enjoy three courses for $30 in the dining room, or dine on five courses at the six-person chef’s table for $60. Zingaro is a BYOB restaurant, with a $5 stemware charge per table. For more information go to http://www.zingarocuisine.com. Reservations are recommended.

25 things chefs don’t tell you

Sauciers-in-training

Image via Wikipedia

Do restaurants recycle the bread basket? Are most of us bad tippers? Food Network Magazine surveyed chefs across the country — anonymously — to find out everything we’ve always wanted to know.

Chefs are pickier than you think.
Liver, sea urchin, tofu, eggplant, and oysters, of all things, topped the list of foods chefs hate most. Only 15% of chefs surveyed said they’d eat absolutely anything.

Still, chefs hate picky eaters.
More than 60% said requests for substitutions are annoying. Some of their biggest pet peeves: When customers pretend to be allergic to an ingredient, and when vegetarians make up rules, like “a little chicken stock is OK.”

When eating out in other restaurants, chefs say they avoid pasta and chicken.
Why? These dishes are often the most overpriced (and least interesting) on the menu. Said one chef, “I won’t pay $24 for half a chicken breast.” Said another, “I want something I can’t make myself.”

Chefs have expensive taste.
The restaurant chefs most often cited as the best in the country was The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley. It ought to be — dinner there is $240 per person, before wine.

…and yet they like fast food.
Their favorite chain: Wendy’s. Culinary degrees aren’t necessarily the norm. Just half the chefs surveyed graduated from a cooking school. The rest got their training the old-fashioned way, by working their way up through the kitchen ranks.

Critics trump movie stars in the VIP pecking order.
A whopping 71% of chefs said they give special treatment to restaurant critics when they spot them; only 63% do the same for celebrities. Making out in the bathroom is old news. More than half of the chefs have found customers kissing — and much more — in the restaurant loo.

Roaches are more common than you think.
Yes, 75% of chefs said they’ve seen roaches in the kitchen. And yet, chefs swear their kitchens are clean. On a scale of 1 to 10, 85% of chefs ranked their kitchens an 8 or higher for cleanliness.

Only 13% of chefs have seen a cook do unsavory things to a customer’s food.
The most unbelievable tale: “Someone once ran a steak through a dishwasher after the diner sent it back twice. Ironically, the customer was happy with it then.”

Your bread basket might be recycled.
Three chefs admitted that uneaten bread from one basket goes right into another one.

Chefs work hard for low pay.
The chefs we surveyed work between 60 and 80 hours a week and almost all of them work holidays. Sixty-five percent reported making less than $75,000 a year. Waiters take home an average of $662 a week, often tax free.

“Vegetarian” is open to interpretation.
About 15% of chefs said their vegetarian dishes might not be completely vegetarian. Beware if you’re one of those super-picky vegan types: One chef reported seeing a cook pour lamb’s blood into a vegan’s primavera.

Paying for a last-minute reservation probably won’t work.
Only one chef said bribes will help you score a table when the restaurant is fully booked; he suggested “promising to buy a bottle of Dom Pérignon or Opus One.” A better bet: Being buddies with the chef.

Menu “specials” are often experimental dishes.
Contrary to popular belief — that specials are just a chef’s way of using up old ingredients — most chefs said they use specials to try out new ideas or serve seasonal ingredients. Only five chefs admitted that they try to empty out the fridge with their nightly specials.

The appropriate tip is 20%…
That’s what chefs leave when they eat out, and it’s the amount they think is fair.

…unless the service is really poor.
An astounding 90% of chefs said it’s fair to penalize bad waiters with a smaller tip.

That rule about not ordering fish on Sunday might be worth following.
Several chefs warned, “We don’t get fresh deliveries on Sunday.”

Chefs hate working on New Year’s Eve more than any other holiday.
Valentine’s Day was a close second, but don’t take that to mean chefs aren’t romantic: 54% of those surveyed said they like it when couples get engaged in their restaurant.

They secretly want to be Alton or Giada.
Nearly 60% of chefs said they’d want their own cooking show.

Chefs cook when they’re sick.
It’s a long-standing tradition in the restaurant industry: Cooks report to duty unless they’re practically hospitalized. Half of those we surveyed said they come to work sick, and they stay there through injuries, too. Many chefs have cut themselves on the job, gone to get stitches, and returned to work to finish out the night. Accidents definitely happen: Almost every chef we surveyed has been injured on the job in some way, and several chefs said they’re missing parts of their fingers.

The five-second rule actually applies.
A quarter of the chefs surveyed said they’d pick up food that dropped on the floor and cook it.

Your waiter is trying to influence your order.

By the editors of Food Network Magazine

Almost every chef surveyed (95%) said he or she urges servers to steer customers toward specific dishes on the menu each night.

Restaurants mark up wine by a lot more than you might expect.
Most chefs said that a bottle on their wine list costs 2½ times what the same one would cost in a wine store.

There’s a reason so many restaurants serve molten chocolate cake.
More than 75% of chefs said they take inspiration from other restaurant menus.

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