Friday, May 29, 2009

Top Chef Masters Speak

Check out the two-part interview with Top Chef Masters contestants Hubert Keller, Christopher Lee, Michael Schlow, and Tim Love here. And don't forget to check out All Top Chef on a regular basis for show updates and information!

NY Culinary Experience

Doesn't this sound like fun?

Featuring: Jonathan Benno, Per Se; April Bloomfield, The John Dory and The Spotted Pig; Karen Bornarth & Roger Gural, The French Culinary Institute; David Bouley, Bouley, Upstairs, Secession and Bouley Bakery; Cesare Casella, Dean of The Italian Culinary Academy, Chef/Owner of Salumeria Rosi; Ariane Daguin, D'Artagnan; Alexandra Guarnaschelli,Butter; Paul Liebrandt, Corton; Morimoto, Morimoto; Melissa Murphy, Sweet Melissa Pâtisserie; Nils Norén & Dave Arnold, The French Culinary Institute; David Pasternack, Esca; Zak Pelaccio, Fatty Crab; Jacques Pépin, Dean at The French Culinary Institute; Alfred Portale, Gotham Bar and Grill; Michael Psilakis, Anthos, Kefi and Mia Dona; Alain Sailhac, Dean at The French Culinary Institute; Marcus Samuelsson, Aquavit; Amy Scherber, Amy's Bread; André Soltner, Dean at The French Culinary Institute and Former Chef/Owner of Lutèce; Jacques Torres, Dean of Pastry at The French Culinary Institute, Jacques Torres Chocolate; Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges; David Waltuck, Chanterelle NYC

The only hands-on event of its kind, the New York Culinary Experience offers you the chance to cook side-by-side with some of the world's most renowned chefs.

Sign up for intimate, informative and interactive cooking classes with acclaimed chefs, restaurateurs and industry insiders, including Morimoto, Jacques Pépin, Marcus Samuelsson and more, plus a special appearance by a surprise guest—a renowned chef featured on one of TV's most popular cooking shows.

You'll prepare—then enjoy—dishes under the direction of these industry giants, attend question-and-answer sessions, wine tastings and, at the close of each day, a private reception for NYCE students and chefs. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and you are welcome to bring home the dishes you create during the day. If you don't have a lot of experience in the kitchen, don't worry. All you need is a desire to learn from and interact with the best in the business.

In addition, NYCE attendees will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to a private dinner with a world-class chef at the home of The French Culinary Institute founder Dorothy Hamilton. Proceeds from this exclusive event will benefit The Future Chefs Scholarship Program, offering scholarships to aspiring chefs so that they may attend The FCI.

Sounds great, until you get to this part:

To purchase tickets and for more information, contact us at 646-314-4413 or Tickets are $1,395 for the two-day event and are inclusive of classes, breakfasts, lunches and a closing reception each day.

Guess that doesn't include transportation and hotel accommodations, huh?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What Goes In, Must Come Out

...or, at least some of it does.

A professor from my alma mater - Maryland Institute College of Art - has studied eating and pooping. And the results are on display in a museum.

This Made Me Laugh

funny pictures of cats with captions

Ok, so it's not really food-related, but I thought it was funny.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos is one of those dishes I don't get. I find the combination of fish, shredded cabbage, and crema to be as bland as bland can be. But we had some mahi mahi in the freezer, so I thought I'd concoct a version that had some flavor.  

What you see below has mango/pineapple salsa, sliced avocado, scallions, and cilantro. The fish was dusted with cumin and pimenton before cooking.  And guess what - it was still bland. 

I'm stickin' to chicken in my tacos.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I've mentioned here before that my favorite brownie recipe is on the back of a can of Ghirardelli Sweet Chocolate and Cocoa; it's sweet and rich and extra chocolate-y. I had a hankering for baked goods last week and Mr Minx suggested I make brownies, so out came the can of Ghirardelli. And what did I do? I messed up the recipe. I usually make a double batch, but this time I planned to make half as much. But...I used the same 2 cup measurement as always and after dumping in the remains of the chocolate and grabbing a can of Hershey's to make up the difference, I realized what I had done. Oops! I put back the 9" square pan and broke out the 9" x 13" instead.... (Not that too many brownies is ever a bad thing!)

I didn't feel like using up another whole stick of butter and 2 more eggs, so I added 1/2 stick and 1 more egg. I also goofed on the flour measurement and ended up using slightly less than twice as much. In the end, the brownies came out about pretty close to the original, albeit slightly less gooey in the center (a good thing - I like gooey, but sometimes the centers were a bit too wet). Actually, these were the best brownies yet!

Chewy Chocolate Brownies

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate and cocoa
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips
grated rind of one orange (optional, but delish)

Grease a 8x8 inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl stir together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add butter and stir well. Sift the ground chocolate with the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the egg mixture and add the walnuts and chocolate chips. Spread into the prepared baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gearing Up for Top Chef Masters

I'm excited about the newest version of Top Chef - Top Chef Masters! Mr Minx and I watched the screener for the first episode the other day and really enjoyed it. I'll be putting a quickie review up on All Top Chef in a few days. I also put a poll on that blog: Who do you think will win Top Chef Masters? Go vote!

And to let you know in advance - I won't be recapping the show because I'm already recapping The Fashion Show and might do the same for the upcoming (June 7th) Food Network Star. We'll see. I will, however, be recapping season 6 of Top Chef, whenever that starts up (they are currently filming in Las Vegas, so I'm guessing it'll start up in the Fall, as it did in 2008).

This Made Me Laugh

see more Fail Blog

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Soft Shell Crab Week

Soft Shell Crab Week, starting Friday, May 22nd and running through Sunday, May 31st is the mastermind of Brass Elephant chef Marcus Olson and the Downtown Partnership. Ten downtown area restaurants are each offering at least one soft shell crab dish during the week. Menus can be found here.

I'm thinking Brass Elephant's "Maryland Soft-Shell Crab & smoked Maryland Rockfish, Bamboo Shoots, Hearts of Palm, Sherry-Mustard Emulsion" sounds good, as does their "Maryland Soft-Shell Crab stuffed with Maryland Crab, Turnip, Turnip Greens, Tomato, Caramelized Onion, Red Bell Pepper Romesco." And Donna's fried soft shell crab "po boy" on a brioche roll with tomatoes, dill aioli and sweet potato fries sounds like a tasty choice as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

UMB Farmers' Market

I just discovered a itsy bitsy, teensy weensy, farmers' market! It's on Paca between Redwood and Baltimore, in the park. Among the handful of merchants is Firefly Farms goat cheese (Merry Goat Round - yum!)

Market hours: 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Tuesdays through October.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Smoky Gnocchi

We had an open package of thick-cut bacon in the fridge that we had to use up over the weekend. Two ripe tomatoes suggested BLTs, but I didn't want to use up Mr Minx's weekday lunch bread. Digging around in the pantry revealed a package of gnocchi, so I went the pasta route, bringing no arguments from the Pasta Fiend.

While the bacon cooked, I chopped about 1/3 of the huge sweet onion we had in the fridge and cut up some baby spinach. (It's so nice to be married to someone who has an interest in cooking. As I was explaining to Mr Minx what I intended to do for dinner, I had a brain cramp and couldn't think of a particular word. I mimed rolling something with my fingers, then made a small chopping motion with my hand. He said, "chiffonade?" which of course is exactly what I meant.)

I removed the bacon from the pan to a paper-towel-lined plate. I reserved about a tablespoon of the fat and tossed in the onions and a handful of sliced mushrooms (there is always - always - a box of mushrooms in our fridge), cooking them down until they were quite brown and soft. I wanted to emphasize the smokiness of the bacon, so added a bare pinch of smoked kosher salt (the stuff is *very* smoky), plus some aleppo pepper and a crushed clove of garlic. The gnocchi were quickly cooked in boiling water, then added to the onion mixture along with the chiffonade of spinach and some of the bacon, cut into pieces. A couple of quick tosses to wilt the spinach and coat everything in bacon grease et voila! Dinner.

Yes, it was gooood.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pork Chops

Hi ho, Mr. Minx here. My lovely wife thought it was high time I got into the act and talked about some of the meals that I put together during the week. Like many people, I tend to conceive and assemble dinner at the last minute using two basic criteria: does it sound appetizing and can it be made quickly. Most of the weekday meals that I make consist of adventurous riffs on leftovers from the weekend or soups and stews concocted from whatever is available in the refrigerator and pantry, but every so often, I like to make something special from scratch. That's how the meal below came to be.

Last Friday, I walked over to our neighborhood supermarket to pick up some lunch meat. After getting my usual turkey, I thought I would wander over to the reduced-price meat display to see what looked good. I know, marked-down meat sounds like a dodgy proposition, but I figured if I cooked it that evening, it would probably be okay. Although the Italian sausages looked tempting, I couldn't pass up a package of two boneless pork chops for only $2.42. Just enough protein for The Minx and I, and a perfect blank slate for whatever meal I could concoct.

As soon as I got home, I set about creating a marinade so the pork would have the maximum amount of time to develop flavor. I never measure anything, but I believe the marinade was something along the lines of:

1 tablespoon of sriracha hot sauce
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 chopped scallion
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1 clove of garlic (crushed)

I placed the marinade and the pork chops into a plastic storage bag and put it in the refrigerator to wait until dinner time (about six hours away).

The marinade committed me to a Thai-style meal, so I decided to go with soba noodles and a salad, both flavored with dressings that would compliment the pork. For the soba noodles, I mixed together:

1/4 cup of coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce
the juice from half a lime
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (just because we had that much left in the fridge)
salt to taste

After the soba was cooked (it only takes about two minutes), I drained most of the water, retaining a couple tablespoons in the pan. Then I tossed the mixture in with the noodles until they were well coated.

I put together a standard salad of lettuce, carrots, tomato, and cucumber and dressed it with:

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
The juice from the other half of the lime
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper to taste

Once The Minx was home from work, I cooked the pork chops by searing both sides in a pan on high heat, 1 minute per side. Then I turned the heat down to low and let them cook with the lid on, 4 minutes per side. After removing the pork chops from the pan, I poured the marinade into the pan and cranked it back up to high for a few minutes so the liquid would thicken into a sauce. Not only did the sauce add extra flavor to the already flavorful pork, it spiced up the soba noodles as well.

While the soups, stews, stir-fries, and pasta dishes are fine, every once in awhile, The Minx and I like to bite into a nice piece of meat. This meal fit the bill and was pretty economical to boot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Maque Choux

Maque Choux is a Cajun corn and tomato dish that's really simple to put together and has a lot of flavor. It can be a side dish, or a main.

The other day, I did a riff on an Emeril Lagasse recipe and cooked up some bacon lardons, then used a tablespoon or so of the remaining grease to fry onions and mushrooms. I then added chopped tomato and sliced okra pods, seasoned the whole mess with Emeril's "Essence," then added the bacon back in.  I served the maque choux with rice and lobster tail meat cut into chunks and sautéed in butter. God, it was good. 

BTW, we use Essence a lot - it's a fantastic all-purpose seasoning, and it's outstanding in mashed potatoes. Sometimes Mr Minx puts so much in, the potatoes are faintly pink from the paprika. And they're good and spicy!  You can buy the stuff at the store, but why not make your own, especially since most people have all of the ingredients on hand already?

Emeril's Creole Seasoning (Essence)
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Key Lime Pie

For Mother's Day, I attempted my first Key Lime pie. I think it turned out quite well.

Key Lime Pie

Shortbread Crust
1 1/2 cups Lorna Doones, crushed
1/2 cup sugar
6 T margarine or butter
4 large egg yolks
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice, as I did and use this nifty product
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Mix the ingredients and press them into a 9" pie plate. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 10 - 12 minutes until lightly browned.

Mix filling ingredients until well combined. A chemical reaction between the lime juice and the milk will cause it to thicken. Cool! Pour into the prebaked pie shell and bake for 7 minutes, until the top is set enough to support the meringue.

Beat eggwhites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff and glossy, but not dry. Spread onto the pie, making sure the meringue goes all the way to the crust. Bake an additional 20 minutes until nicely browned.

Nom. :)

I also made the shrimp with apple salad and peanut butter sauce I made a couple weeks back, preceeded by a stacked tomato and corn salad on a crouton. Well, it was supposed to be stacked, but when I removed the mold, the salad fell all over the place. Still, it tasted good and would be a good base for a mound of jumbo lump crab meat. Next time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Secret Formula

If you've ever wondered what's in the secret formula for Coke....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Want to Work for the Food Network?

Who doesn't want the chance to work next to Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri, right? If you're one of these people, then you should check out the new Food Network online application form!


fail owned pwned pictures

You mean he didn't smell the bacon cooking? Or the bacon on her clothes and breath when she got back into bed? And...she ate all 5 lbs? I can't even eat 5 slices in one sitting!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Grocery Store Wars

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Next Food Network Star - Season 5

Are you ready to choose the next Guy Fieri or Aaron McCargo, Jr? The Food Network is, and they're apparently trying more and more to make their show like Top Chef. The Official site is up, along with a couple of previews.

Who's gonna watch the trainwreck this year?

Susan Boyle Crazy

Ok, by now all of you have already heard about/seen the clip of Susan Boyle wowing the smarmy judges of Britian's Got Talent. (If you've been living under a rock these past few weeks, you can see it here.)  Well now, the woman has been immortalized in a pizza. Yes, a pizza.

No word on how she tasted.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

RIP Dom Deluise

I've long been a fan of Dom Deluise, a man who was not only funny, but also a man who liked to eat. He was even the doppelganger of New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme. 

Mr Deluise died last night at the age of 75, suffering from kidney failure and respiratory problems, among other things, no doubt in part due to his love of food.

It seems fitting to celebrate the famously-obese comedian and cookbook author by sharing one of his recipes.

Dom Deluise's Outrageous Yum-Yum Cake

2 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup room-temperature unsalted butter
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda on waxed paper. Butter and flour two 9" cake pans.

In large mixing bowl, beat sugar and egg until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and mix into egg mixture. Add sour cream, water and vanilla; beat again. Add flour mixture and cocoa; beat slowly until flour is absorbed. Do not overbeat. Fold in chocolate pieces. Divide mixture in prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until tested done. Cool cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with Chocolate Butter Icing.

Chocolate Butter Icing
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons strong coffee
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips in the coffee over very low heat. Remove pan from heat. Beat in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth. Set pan in bowl of ice and beat until icing is spreadable and holds its shape.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

So what are you going to do to celebrate this holiday which has little or no national significance in Mexico? Good thing we can't contract swine flu from cerveza!

And speaking of Mexican food - only on Facebook can one have a conversation with Olivia Newton-John about the price of avocados in Florida vs. Baltimore and New York and favorite ways to eat of hers being guacamole.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Lei Day Dinner

Friday night's Lei Day dinner at Roy's was a rowdy good time; we definitely sat at the fun table. Made me wish I had brought my camera. That's right - no photos of food. 

Before dinner, Mr Minx and I wondered how one would "crust" a filet with lemongrass. Lemongrass is so fibrous and tough - would it be edible?  Well, turns out "crust" deserves quotation marks. The meat was actually cooked sous vide with lemongrass, which gave the meltingly tender beef a strong citrusy flavor. Fabulous. And our first taste of something cooked sous vide. Well, the second thing that night - the lobster in the prior course was also cooked in an immersion circulator. It was tender, but not as impossibly so as the filet.

Other highlights were the shutome (a kind of swordfish), and the butter cake, but everything was delish. And the Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc was the fruitiest wine I've ever had - tons of bright and tart gooseberry/ pineapple/ passion fruit flavors.  

Apart from the food, one of the things I love about Roy's wine dinners is the trivia contests. The questions are easy and the prizes are bottles of wine and Roy's cookbooks. This time around, we won two bottles of wine - the Pinot Grigio and the Cabernet. Neither were as interesting as the Sauvignon Blanc, but hey, free wine is free wine!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Lei Day

Join us tonight, 6:30pm, at Top Chef Masters cheftestant Roy Yamaguchi's restaurant at Harbor East, for a sumptuous 5-course Lei Day feast! Call (410) 659-0099 to make a reservation.

Soy Braised Pacific Bluefin Ahi & Eringe Mushroom
Ohitashi Watercress, Yamaimo, Grilled Shishito Pepper
Created by Lorin Watada, Corporate Sushi Chef

Maso Canali Pinot Grigio Trentino, Italy

Maine Lobster Simmered in Sauvignon Blanc
Macaroni, Wilted Cabbage, Stewed Tomato, Bacon
Created by Gordon WK Hopkins, Original Hawaii Kai Chef Partner

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand

Herb Grilled Hawaiian Shutome
Oxtail & Wild Mushroom Purses, Parsnip Purée, Peas, Merlot Sauce
Created by Roy Yamaguchi, Chef Owner, Founder

Red Rock Merlot California

Lemongrass Crusted Filet Mignon
Pancetta Wrapped Bok Choi, Cabernet Natural Sauce
Created by David "DTA" Abella, Original Kahana, Maui Chef Partner

Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa, California

Island "Lei Day Celebration" Butter Cake
Lilikoi Curd, Mango Cream, Vanilla Lime Syrup
Created by Leslie Gorman, Desert Ridge Pastry Chef

Kona Coffee