Brussels Sprouts Salad

November 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ever since this dinner, at Sunda in Chicago, my eyes have been opened to a world of raw brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts that are delicious without being roasted or smothered in sauce or topped with bacon. Of course all of those preparations are delicious but there is a sea of brussels sprouts salad recipes out there so I picked this one since it seemed simple and light enough plus the ingredients are things you’ll most likely have on hand.

Ingredients adapted from Shutterbean

  • about 14 oz Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1/2 cup ParmigianoReggiano, finely grated
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, in pieces
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cinder vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper

A heaping teaspoon of brown sugar and a 1/4 tbsp. butter doesn’t hurt when toasting up the walnuts. Medium heat for about 8 minutes

Set the nuts aside to cool and start prepping the brussels sprouts. After rinsing, cut off the hard ends and chop thinly. If you have a mandolin that gets the job done well.

Place the sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add the walnuts and shaved cheese.

Whisk the olive oil, cider, mustard and salt and pepper together. Combine with the sprouts, walnuts and cheese mixture.

Mix it all up and serve!

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Top Chef Seattle, Episode 3

November 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

Omg, I was travelling last Wednesday and totally missed Top Chef! Not to worry, I TiVo’d it for you and am summing it up here.

If you’re pressed for time, Kuniko went home. If you have a little more, here’s how:

The guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge is Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine. The chefs are presented with a map and on it are 17 kinds of dumplings from all over the world. They sprint to the map to get their pick. Fortunately, Amazon has set them up with some handy-dandy Kindle Fires so they can research the dumpling they receive. There are three components to the dumpling–wrapper, stuffing and sauce–on which they’ll be judged. Oh and some authenticity as well.

Stefan picks Germany which is a big advantage since he grew up eating his dumpling. Josie seems to know what she’s doing as she rolls her wrapper out. There is somehow no flour of any type left in the Top Chef kitchen for Brooke to use for her dumplings. Then, when the buzzer goes, Kuniko has plated… NOTHING. She didn’t have time to get it on the plate so she is not eligible to be judged.

As Dana makes the rounds, she meets Sheldon for the first time face to face since he is one of Food & Wine Magazine’s People’s Best New Chefs. On the bottom were Brooke, Carla and Kuniko. On the top were Josie, Stefan and Micah with Josie winning the ultimate prize of immunity. Now it’s time for the Elimination Challenge.

It’s Thanksgiving Dinner and they’ll be cooking for the organization Fair Start. They will be divided into two teams and headed by some special leaders–Tom Colicchio and Emeril Lagasse for a Top Chef first. Unsurprisingly, Tom and his team develop an Italian themed meal while Emeril and his group add a New Orleans creole twist. Josie declares it the “Civil War” of Thanksgiving. The teams prep and pack and there seems to be some all around good cheer in the kitchen as the Tom and Emeril show their stuff in the kitchen.

Once they get cooking the next day, things get a little messier of course. The kitchen is cramped with everyone in there and Stefan kicks some people out of his area. Then Stefan and Carla get in it for some reason or another. A word of advice to future Top Chef competitors: when the challenge is a team competition, make sure you completely finish your dish before you even begin thinking about helping out the rest of the team. Being the good Samaritan always seems to hurt your personal dish and put you in the bottom three.

The New Orleans team goes first and there are some pretty obvious issues with the meal–the turkey is under cooked, root vegetables are under-seasoned, the kale is too chewy, the gumbo utterly lacks all flavor except bitterness and the the potato pave is completely raw. The shining star is Brooke’s sweet potato biscuit.

Tom’s team comes out stronger. Apparently Tom’s family stuffing recipe includes fois gras, the carrot soup with turkey meatballs is creamy and beautiful, the greens are well dressed and the buttery mashed potatoes are a home run. Elizabeth’s mashed potatoes, CJ’s turkey and Carla’s soup are the top 3 with Carla being the ultimate winner.

Tyler, Kuniko, Josie and Sheldon are on the bottom. Sheldon’s kale was under cooked, Tyler’s gumbo had no flavor,  Josie’s turkey was raw (but she has immunity) and the judges decide that Kuniko’s raw and undercooked ptotato pave is the worst offender. It is sad to see her go since she is sweet and I think secretly, a creative genius chef with expert skill. But our emotion subsides when we’re faced with previews from next week and an entire cow carcass hanging in the kitchen. Holy. Cow.

Holiday Apple Pie

November 27, 2012 § 3 Comments

You may have noticed that this blog has been on a little hiatus lately. What with visitors, holidays, travels, etc. as I’m sure you’re all too aware, it’s very easy to let hobbies slip by the wayside. So I’m offering this, the quintessential Apple Pie recipe, as an apology and a promise that I will never abandon this little blog completely!

Using a mix of Granny Smith and Gala apples keeps the pie balanced with sweet and tart.

So back to the pie. I read Emily Schuman’s Cupcakes and Cashmere every week and when she posted this recipe claiming it tackled her biggest pie fears (namely being overly sweet and mushy), I knew I would be trying it this holiday season. So when we trekked out to Give Thanks last week, I couldn’t wait to have this in tow.

Another dough endeavor sans mixer sounded really intimidating. Fortunately, I learned this handy tip: freeze the butter and shortening, grate it into the flour and rub the flour-coated pieces in your hand. That’s right, what you see in the picture above is a giant mound of shaved butttaa.

Add in 6-8 tbsp. ice water until you get the consistency you want–when the dough sticks together

While your dough is chilling in the refrigerator, it’s time to peel and core and slice your apples. And this takes probably longer than you will take. The recipe calls for 4 lbs. of apples but I had at least 2 full apples left over so I think you can get away with 3 small apples of each kind (and this will help shave off a little time). Preheat the oven to 425 °.

I like super thin, probably less than 1/4 inch thick

Toss the sliced apples with 3/4 cup sugar and lemon juice and zest and allspice and cinnamon. I thought the lemon flavor was a little too strong so I would cut what the recipe calls for in half.

Roll out one of the pie shells until it is about 12 inches and place over a 9-inch Pyrex. There should be some extra hanging off the edge. Pile in the apples with the juices and form a mound in the center. Roll out the the dough ball and place on top.

Once the top is on brush with a little egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 425° when the crust is golden and then reduce heat to 375° and continue baking until juices bubble and the crust is a deep golden brown.

Let cool for four house and enjoy! Serve with vanilla ice cream (obvi).

Top Chef Seattle, Episode 2

November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

So last week on Top Chef, we saw 21 chefs compete in the judges’ kitchens whittled down to 15. They made it to Seattle and as they enter into Top Chef Kitchen, eye one another up.

Padma enters soon after with three former contestants from previous seasons by her side. These former Top Chef hopefuls will be the judges. Here comes the Quickfire.

For their first task, the chefs are asked to divide themselves into 5 groups of 3. Seeing as how they just met one another, these groups turned out by pure luck. Although John has a strategy– he sees Kuniko and thinks as a Japanese chef she may have some good knife skills. As he is leaning in to cnospire with her during the directions, Padma totally calls him out for speaking when she is. Next time, the principal’s office.

Their task is to highlight local shellfish. Apparently, the hot item here is geoduck (sounds like gooey-duck) which Kristen describes as looking like, “a really big penis.” Cheftestants are throwing their hands into some murky looking swamp water to retrieve these things that are going like hot cakes. It pops up in two dishes and the yellow team is SOL when all the geoduck is gone by the time they get there and they have to choose something else.

This turns out to perhaps be their downfall because with their dish now of razor clam soup with grilled corn and lime, the yellow team turns out to be on the bottom. The judges are a little too confident and persnickety in their tastings (they did lose after all). But despite the dish describing the dish as needing, “a hair more salt”, they declare…. the geoduck as the winner! Turns out John was smart sticking with Kuniko because he now has immunity. Oh and then BOOM the three former contestants will now be joining the competition. And the judges become the judged.

The elimination challenge takes place in the Seattle space needle. Staying in their teams of three, the chefs have 45 minutes to prepare a dish using regional ingredients. After shopping in the Top Chef Kitchen for items to use the next day, the judges pack up and head to their new digs at Olive 8.

The next day, the teams cook two at a time. The reigning team of Sheldon, Kuniko and John come up with a hot chili oil poached cod with dashi and vegetables. They face off with the red team, the only team of all women, and dominated by Carla, who is still subtitled despite the fact that she is speaking in English. The kitchen is loud and crazy when she is in there and most of the chefs look on in wonder as she runs around shouting obscenities preparing her dish.

Meanwhile the judges are enjoying a nice glass of wine and quite the view as they meet with famed Seattle chef and restaurateur, Tom Douglas. Gail mentions she wants to go fishing while they are here. Gee, I wonder if they’ll get the chance.

The other two sets of teams face off with more fish/ spot prawns and a lone quail dish. The judges seem all around pleased with what they’ve seen and are looking forward to the season.

The big winner is Kuniko for her ingenious hot chili oil poached cod which she admits was her first time trying. Alas, someone’s got to go though and Padma announces they’d like to see the grey team and-gasp!- the vets at the judges’ table. Season 5 contestant/ persnickety judge Stefan is charged with an overcooked quail but the offense is less than Jeffrey’s overdone fish. He holds his head high as he leaves and is so nice it’s definitely Sad to see him go.

Nashville is So Hot Right Now

November 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Nashville is in the national press again. After moving here, I kept trying to figure out if all the articles and snapshots of Nashville that kept popping up were always there or if I was just more aware now since I lived here. I think it is undeniable though– with GQ renaming the city Nowville, a restaurant topping everybody’s list across the country and now it’s own hit TV show–it’s official, Nashville is a hot spot.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to come across another article in NY Mag about the city last week, The Urbanist’s Guide to Nashville. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. With four friends coming in from out of town this weekend, I was searching for the best itinerary to show off the many facets of Nashville and wanted to fit in the best of food, bars and unique things to do here. Things just got a lot easier. Enjoy the spotlight, Nashville!

Top Chef Season 10 Premiere

November 8, 2012 § 1 Comment

I am so excited to the see the return of  one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. If you are as big a fan as I am, I hope you’ll be happy to hear that I’ll be recapping each episode here this season so you don’t miss a thing.

Last night’s Season 10 Premiere feels more like a pre-episode since we see the judges whittling down competing chefs to see who actually will go to Seattle. The judges who include Tom Colichio, Hugh Acheson and (newly added!) Wolfgang Puck, each have their own test for the cheftestants.

First, we’re at Craft with Tom and his hopefuls who he has working on different tasks in the kitchen. We meet John Tesar who we learn was voted “most hated chef in Dallas”-a title he wears with pride. There is Lizze Binder hailing form South Africa who immediately (in magical TV editing time) comments on Tom’s lovely baby blues. There is Micah Fields from the Standard who is seriously sweating as Tom peers over him working, Jorel Pierce who has the first crazy mustache of the night and Anthony Gray who seems like that inevitable co-worker who sort of sits back and eyes everyone else and never seems to be doing any work. We learn they’ll all be in the kitchen for REAL dinner service that night. Yikes.

Next we see Emeril and his hopefuls who he has challenged with making soup. Josh Valentine presents us with the second crazy mustache of the night. Jeffrey Jew who settles on a gazpacho despite the limited time, manages to pull it off, and is the first chef we see told to pick up a chef jacket and head to Seattle. There are friends Stephanie Cmar and Kristen Kish who cook together, live in the same building and have matching spoon tats. When we find that only former model Kristen Kish makes it through, it seems like the set-up was kind of cruel. Also asked to leave is Tina Borbeau whose seafood and chorizo soup didn’t make the cut.

Then we’re sent to Wolfy’s kitchen where he’s looking for omelets. There is the boisterous Carla Pellegrino who cracks her omelet and tries to cover it up with mushrooms and other toppings. CAUGHT. Despite Wolfgang declaring it “like a woman with too much make-up on” she is safe. While Eliza Gavin is cooking, Wolfgang casually drops that she should serve steak which she smartly obeys and she puts out a monster steak on top of her omelet. “Complicated’ but good enough to get her through to Seattle. Chrissy Camba assesses the situation, “He holds my future in his Austrian hands” and brings some of her heritage to the omelet.  We learn Kunio Yagi is new to the States from Tokyo who came to America on her own to further her career. You can’t help but root for her. Tyler Wiard seems like he needs a little confidence boost as he faces his omelet and Daniel O’Brien rattles off his rankings on Yelp, etc. Yet after serving too much grease, he’s the only one of the bunch asked to leave. He has a bad attitude about it and you let out a sigh of relief. Dodged a bullet with that one.

I have a deep love for Hugh Acheson. To me he has that subtle, dry humor that is just absolutely hsyterical. And it’s nice to see the South have a representative up there! He asks his cheftestants for a “beautiful salad.” Brook Williamson serves up fried kale (the second time we’ve seen that tonight) which is the big winner of the group. We also meet Bart Vandaele who is actually knighted. Sir Chef. The group, which also includes Sheldon Simeon and Danyele McPherson, on the whole performs well. Only Community Food Program Founder Gina Keatley falls short.

We finish up back at Craft in LA where no one seems to be completing their butchering/scaling up to par so you don’t know who is making it through. But during dinner service that night, John proves his skills quickly and is asked to continue to Seattle. Micah’s positive energy in the kitchen seems to be the determining factor that gets him through. Lizzie is also safe but Jorel and Anthony are sent packing. Two crazy mustaches is too much for this season.

 

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls

November 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve been holding out on you. For weeks now I’ve been popping these addictive little balls and never managed to share here. They are the perfect antidote to the post-work yet pre-workout time when you’re famished from lunch but know if you reach for the Tostito’s that gym class is a goner. They’re delicious in the morning when you’re running out the door and can manage to grab a banana and one of these. Oh, and did I mention there is one step? Mix. I guess if you really wanted to spell it out you could stretch it to three steps: mix, wait, roll but that could be overkill. We all have Amy from Fearless Homemaker to thank for these genius little Bites!

Ingredients
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes (I used unsweetened)
1/2 cup flaxseed (the recipe originally calls for ground but I like a little bit of the grainy texture)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until well-blended

Allow the mixture to chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to roll into balls. To roll into balls, gather a very heaping tablespoon and shape the heaping mixture into ball while still in the spoon.

Enjoy!

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