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Posts tagged ‘Cooking’

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 ‘Terrible 10’: The Worst Aspects Of America’s Food Scene

Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, after ...

Image via Wikipedia

The ‘Terrible 10’: The Worst Aspects Of America’s Food Scene.

Interesting article. Although it might not be politically correct of me, I have to point out that Jack DeCoster’s egg farms are on this list. He has been a thorn in the side of Iowa for years.

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.

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.

Secret Red Velvet Cupcakes

 

So what’s the secret?

Other than the fact that they’re really really good, really moist, and REALLY filling? The recipe is semi-homemade… and my 10 year old found the recipe in a free Kraft recipe booklet, while browsing through our hometown market! And it’s so easy to make, she can do it!

 

 

Ingredients –

2 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups sour cream

2 egg whites

1 pkg. red velvet cake mix (I love Duncan Hines… personal preference though!)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat 2 oz. cream cheese, and sour cream in large bowl with mixer until blended.

(Mimi chose to do it by hand)

Add egg whites and cake mix; mix well.

Scoop into cupcake pans (I used the paper liners, but you can also spray the cupcake pan with cooking spray).

Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting –

Cream 1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese with 1/4 cup butter. Add 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.

Beat until smooth.

Frost – and don’t forget the sprinkles!

 

Trader Joe’s Giveaway Winner!!

The winner of my first-ever giveaway is… Tiffany Merical! Congratulations Tiffany!

I asked Tiffany what her favorite food is, and she said quiche! I hear Trader Joe’s has some pretty good quiche in their frozen food section… but… (I’ve heard they’re really small. Disappointingly so!). Tiffany has had my quiche… she’s one of the lucky people (or so they say) that has been the recipient of my cooking. So in honor of my first-ever giveaway, and Tiffany’s favorite food, I’ll be posting my quiche recipe here… later today.

Velvety Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Julia Child, Miami Book Fair International, 1989

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been in the mood for something rich, intense and chocolate. I’ve had this Julia Child recipe for Reine de Saba (chocolate and almond cake) that I’ve been wanting to make, and I wanted to adapt it to be gluten-free. Why? Because I know some people with gluten intolerance. Because it’s Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, and… being a food adventurer… I just wanted to!

With me and Mimi (daughter #3) relaxed and on the threshold of a 5 day Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to tackle it. I got out Mastering the Art of French Cooking and plunged in.

Ingredients –

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 T rum or strong coffee

1/4 lb., or one stick, softened butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 egg yolks

3 egg whites

pinch of salt

1 T. granulated sugar

1/3 cup pulverized almonds

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup rice flour

Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate and rum or coffee and either slowly in a double boiler,or at 10-second intervals in the microwave. Watch closely in the microwave – chocolate can burn very easily.

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

Beat in the egg yolks until well blended.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed;

sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract. Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding. Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with rubber spatula. Bake in middle level of preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Cake is done when it has puffed, and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken,and a needle comes out oily.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on a plate or rack. Allow it to cool for an hour or two, it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

I have to admit… Mimi and I didn’t wait for the cake to cool. She didn’t want to. I didn’t want to. We were wanting instant gratification. We sliced the cake and ate it warm. This cake *sounds* moist when you cut into it. It’s one of the homliest looking cakes I’ve ever seen.  Without any icing or nice presentation, it should be called Ugly Cake. But one bite tells an entirely different story… the beauty lies within. The cake is intensely chocolate, velvety, rich, smooth… almost unctious. If you choose to do icing, I’m including Julia’s chocolate-butter icing recipe. She also recommends pressing a design of almonds over the icing. Maybe I’ll put icing on it next time.

Glacage au Chocolat (Chocolate Icing)

Ingredients –

2 ounces (2 squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate

2 T rum or strong coffee

5 to 6 T unsalted butter

Melt the chocolate and rum or coffee and either slowly in a double boiler,or at 10-second intervals in the microwave. Watch closely in the microwave – chocolate can burn very easily. Beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over a bowl with a trace of ice cubes and water to cover them until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading  consistency. At once spread it over your cake with a spatula or knife.

 

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