Friday, September 29, 2006

Tyler At Applebee's

Chef Tyler Florence

First came the reports of Iron Chef Cat Cora's vow to "take mini-mart foods to a whole 'nother level," by signing on to prepare meals worthy of a five-star rating for the Circle K mini mart chain in Los Angeles. By the way, you can check out more about that, as well as um... chef Cora's ample cleavage here. (Er, Cat? Is that

And now, Food Network chef and TV host, Tyler Florence, has done some teaming up of his own with the Applebee's chain to "inject a youthful flair into an already outstanding menu." This meaning that the restaurant primarily known for its family fare, is now hoping to attract diners from a slightly different segment of the population.

The match up is said to be totally designed and geared toward -- yes, you guessed it -- a "younger" audience of less experienced cooks, which has been Florence's real focus since his highly popular TV shows, Food 911 and How To Boil Water. Florence is also currently featured in the chain's ads, along with his photo on their menus.

And what a neat idea -- since he's not exactly hard on the eyes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A True Original

"The Galloping Gourmet" Graham Kerr

He's in my memory as far back as I can remember, and especially on those days I'd come home from school, throw my books down, and flip my way through to his light-hearted, fun cooking show on the TV dial. No doubt, those were the days of the * original * talk show/reality TV formats. Yes, it's true what they say kids...there is absolutely nothing new under the sun. And he, along with the late great Julia Child (who revolutionized it all) were, in fact, the two iconic "it" factors in the pre-Food Network days -- of yesteryear.

Well known British chef and TV host Graham Kerr filmed this Australian remake of The Galloping Gourmet TV show in Canada, which at that time was produced by his wife, Treena Kerr. Back then, in a far less health conscious society than that of today, Kerr and The Galloping Gourmet were known for its high jinks, humor, and the generous use of wine, clarified butter, cream, and fat. And yes, his most famous line on the show just might have been his response to someone's criticism of his cooking: "Madame, you could go outside and get run over by a bus right now, and just think what you would have missed"! Kerr also liberally featured a variety of wines, serving them with most meals, drinking them while cooking, using them in his dishes, and waxing stone-cold poetic about the "virtues of the grape." During The Galloping Gourmet's successful run, Kerr became a worldwide sensation, wrote several cookbooks, and earned two Emmy nominations. Sadly, the show ended in 1971 after a tragic car accident that left him temporarily paralyzed.

When additional tragedy set in with his wife Treena's heart attack in 1986, Kerr was prompted to create a new style of cooking that he called "Minimax". This new food stressed aroma, color, texture, and taste over fat. Minimax led to two successful cookbooks: Graham Kerr's Smart Cooking and Graham Kerr's Minimax Cookbook .

And until this very day, along with his very first publication, The Graham Kerr Cookbook which holds a prominent place on my cookbook shelf, his zany antics of galloping onto his 1970s cooking show set to a wild applause from his studio audience, and his tastefully well-constructed recipes, will remain a part of the memories I treasure the most.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Simplicity Squared

Creme De Menthe

So much for the old cliché that the most basic of pleasures -- are always the best.

For me, it's not necessarily so, and certainly not *always* the case. And especially not after this knockout recipe I tried this weekend, which totally kicked up, pimped out, and made what would have been an ordinary batch of brownies -- into a batch that the football fans gathered around my TV this weekend couldn't help noticing... along with asking for more.

So for all you chocolate brownie lovers, who also happen to love a creamy hint of fresh mint, here's one you've just got to try:

Creme De Menthe Brownies

Yield: 32 oven-fresh, totally decadent (as well as just plain flat-out deadly!) chocolate-mint brownies


1 cup Unsalted butter, divided
1 cup Granulated sugar
4 Eggs
1 cup Flour
1/2 ts Salt
16 oz. Chocolate syrup
1 ts Vanilla
2 tb Creme de menthe
2 tb Milk
2 cup Powdered sugar
6 oz. Semisweet chocolate chips


Add salt in a separate bowl, and add to creamed mixture alternately
with the chocolate syrup. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into a 9x13 pan and bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Mix creme de menthe, 1/4 c of the butter, and the powdered sugar. Add
milk or water until consistency is spreadable. Spread on cooled
brownies and refrigerate.

When creme de menthe frosting is set, melt chocolate chips and
remaining 1/4 c butter together. Pour onto brownies and spread
evenly over top.

These little numbers are VERY rich in flavor, so be sure to cut them into moderate sized pieces before serving them.

And will not have as much as one crumb left on the serving plate!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Paula's Talking

Food Network host, Paula Deen

As expected, the barbs are already flying, and since there are so many changes at Food Network these days, including Rachael Ray devoting more time to her brand new talk show and the decision to cancel chef Mario Bateli's Molto Mario, the channel is said to be attracting younger viewers and challenging competitors by introducing "Paula's Party," starring America's favorite country cook and down-home Southern belle, Paula Deen. Unfortunately, this new talk show idea is now being panned as "more Romper Room than Cooking With Master Chefs," according to this recent article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette .

However, also on Deen's busy plate these days is a new cookbook titled Paula Deen Celebrates which debuts on Oct. 1, along with the penning of her memoirs, to be later published in April 2007 by Simon & Schuster. This comes in addition to marketing her own line of food products, but so far, there have been very few details on that.

But the question still remains: Can this mature Southern grandma really dish with the younger generation about sexy footwear (as she did during an episode taping) while officiating crab races (which she also did during an episode taping), interviewing booty shaking rap video divas, recommending where to get the best deals on the latest iPods and skateboards, etc., etc.? (Okay, okay...that may be stretching it a little.) No doubt, we'll soon see.

And just for the record, my money's totally on Paula -- for being just the right person to pull this off.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Leafy Controversy Continues

The original Pitch Man

Certainly, not in any way to make light of the human lives that have been gravely affected by this recent outbreak, still, with rampant reports of E. Coli tainted fresh spinach on the rise, one hastens to ask the burning WWPD (What Would Popeye Do??) question that's on everyone's minds these days.

Thankfully, Zoe Singer of At The Greenmarket has some helpful suggestions:

1. Swiss and rainbow chard are the closest to spinach -- sweet but with a similarly chalky mouth-feel. They should be your first choice for most cooked dishes.

2. Dark leafy greens like kale and beet greens are beginning to arrive at the Union Square Greenmarket. Sauté them with garlic and olive oil, but for a few minutes longer than you would spinach ....

Read more of Singer's substitute picks for spinach currently over at New York Magazine.

Monday, September 18, 2006

NY's Best Chefs Come Together

In celebration of their 30th year in the fight against breast and ovarian cancer SHARE, along with:

Rebecca Charles, Executive Chef and
Owner of the Pearl Oyster Bar
Abigail Kirsch and Alison Awerbuch of Abigail Kirsch Catering
invite you to partake in the Third Annual
A Second Helping of Life
A Tasting Event to Benefit SHARE
Featuring New York’s Top Women Chefs
The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, Pier 61
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
7-9:30 pm (VIP reception from 6-7pm)
The evening will include a brief program in celebration of
SHARE’s 30th Anniversary and a Live Auction

Read more about this event and bidding on auction items for this extremely worthy cause, as well as tasting the offerings of several *top* NY female chefs at the SHARE website.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Party In The Parking Lot?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Yes, it's the question on the minds of many, now that the "fall and football" seasons are officially here. So be sure to check out all the latest (and more) on this subject over at Tailgating America.

And while you're there, ever wondered what they're cooking on the parking lot grills in Green Bay, or Pittsburgh, or closer to home for me...right here across the Hudson River at the Meadowlands Arena in New Jersey? For the answer, take a look at Recipe Themes, for what fans of the AFC and NFC teams are whipping up and charbroiling this season. Also, for the latest in custom-built tailgating buses to get you to and from the game, you've got to check out the Fanatical Vehicles page.

Are these some of the most flat-out, totally and completely devoted football fans you've ever seen, or what??

Go team.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just Ask A Pro

Straight from the horse's mouth (yikes, please…no pun intended!), clearly the best source of a beautiful cut of meat is also the right person to tell you how to eat it. And, out of all the New York area butchers recently interviewed by the New Yorker Magazine, the one featuring Sal Biancardi titled: Whole Rack Of Lamb was my personal favorite on the subject.

Biancardi, co-owner of Biancardi Meats , 2350 Arthur Ave., nr. 186th St., in an under-recognized area of the wonderful Bronx of yesteryear(and for me, one of the last bastions for fresh, prime meats in the uptown NYC area today) states:

"Good American lamb has no lamb flavor, no lamb smell. It's very, very sweet. I like a whole rack of lamb ($11.99 a pound) pan-seared and finished off in the oven. I roast it and then slice it after—that's how it stays nice and pink. I'm not big on seasonings. Having grown up in an Italian household, I like Italian seasonings: a little salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, fresh thyme. I'll put a little drop of canola oil in the pan so that it doesn't stick. Then I pan-sear and roast it for ten to fifteen minutes in a 500-degree oven, and it comes out rare but brown on the outside."

Read more in this month's New York Metro about the NYC butchers who can tell you about your cuts of meat -- better than anyone else can. So when in doubt…just ask a pro.

Good Wednesday, all. Peace.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam

And lest we ever forget.

Today, five years after this fateful tragedy, if nothing else, let us always remember to celebrate a precious gift called LIFE.

Good Monday, all. Peace.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Throwing Out The Junk

UK TV host and uber chef, Jamie Oliver

Considered miles ahead of his chef counterparts here in the U.S., famed British chef and cookbook author Jamie Oliver has been on a nationwide campaign on the other side of the pond to ban junk foods served in schools, and get kids eating tasty, nutritious food instead. As a result, a revolution of sorts has been initiated in schools to prove that school meals can, in fact, be better.

The new guidelines on meals follows Jamie's Feed Me Better campaign, which debuted in 2005, and his popular TV show, Jamie's School Dinners on the UK's Channel 4.

Jamie further states:

"It’s all about making radical changes to the school meals system and challenging the junk food culture by showing schools they can serve fresh nutritious meals that kids enjoy eating. What we eat affects everything: our mood, behavior, health, growth, even our ability to concentrate. A lunchtime school meal should provide a growing child with one third of their daily nutritional intake."

A healthy existence (and future) for the world's future adults -- can't be bad at all, Jamie.

Well done.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The "Bigger" Wines

The Cabernet Grape

These days, it seems it's all about the "big wines." And no, we're not talking about the big, bold taste of those nifty "wine cooler" thingies of a decade ago. (Gosh, are those local littles convenience store "refrigerated treasures" still around?) In any case, bred predominantly but not exclusively in places like California and Australia, these wines are said to be markedly different from the traditional wines of countries like France and Italy -- different not only in taste and texture but in alcohol levels and aging potential. And in addition to all other aspects, the big wines, according to this month's Food & Wine magazine, are also about power and pleasure and simple -- unabashed hedonism.

Made from grapes that are totally ripe, they're wines with big, rich flavors, a generous amount of fruit and relatively high alcohol levels -- 15 percent and more. They're also precocious; that is, they're ready to drink upon release, although many will benefit from cellaring.

While select Cabernet wines are considered among these "big wines" and my own beloved Pinot Noir is not -- I'll forgo the "hedonistic" aspect of it all -- and say that I both enjoyed and actually *learned* a few things from the above link to this article. Interesting stuff, indeed.

Who knew?

Good Tuesday, all. Peace.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Back On The Book Scene

Executive Chef Marcus Samuelsson

It's been three years since his first book titled Aquavit: And the New Scandinavian Cuisine hit the bookshelves, and now, Marcus Samuelsson is back this month with a new one titled The Soul Of A New Cuisine: A Discovery Of The Foods And Flavors Of Africa.

Born in Ethiopia, adopted by Swedish parents, and raised in Sweden, Marcus Samuelsson became the executive chef at Aquavit, a well-known Swedish restaurant here in NYC, at the tender age of twenty-four. Since then, he has continued to exhibit a natural and unique perspective on all facets of fine cuisine -- from international cooking to classic baking.

The Soul Of A New Cuisine is scheduled to be in bookstores on the 24th of this month. Don't miss it. Guaranteed, I won't.

Chef Samuelsson will also be one of several participating chefs at the Gourmet Institute on October 20th through October 22nd, for a behind-the-scenes look into the world of Gourmet Magazine(their eight test kitchens and photo studios)at their headquarters, located at 4 Times Square here in New York City. Read more here about this special weekend-long event, and how to purchase tickets.