Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Forgotten Chapter (Plus Bonus Recipe!)

Back in 2011, as the progress of my book continued, there was one chef I was super delighted to work with. Her name was Annie Chiu, chef/owner of Sun Luck Garden in Cleveland Heights.


As soon as I met Annie, I knew I would like her. A lot. She was sweet, feisty, cordial, and kind -- all rolled into one wonderfully talented woman. And boy, did she have a story to tell!

Anyway, after I interviewed her, wrote her chapter, tested her recipes, and photographed her and her food, she dropped a bombshell on me. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I won't be able to participate in your book after all." You see, Annie was uncomfortable with any additional attention my book would bring to her and her restaurant. She was battling health issues at the time, and how can you argue that? I had to say, "I completely understand." The truth was, I was totally crushed.

Annie's recipes were freshly unique and a cuisine I knew my readers would want. But I had to honor Annie's wishes and forge ahead.

However... 

...today I decided I would finally like to share Annie's dishes with you. They are just too valuable to leave in an unfinished file folder any longer. I'm sure you'll agree.

So here, my dear readers, is the menu Annie would have showcased in my book. I'm including the main entrée recipe below for your enjoyment. If you'd like the rest, please feel free to leave a comment below with your email address and I'll be sure to send them your way!


ANNIE'S MENU
Seaweed Soup
Lotus Root Stir Fry
Shrimp-Specked Noodles
Salt-Boiled Edamame
Asian Pear Tart

Wine Pairings:
Austria: Any Region - Grüner Veltliner
Italy: Piedmont - Moscato d'Asti
New Zealand: Marlborough - Sauvignon Blanc
USA: California - Pinot Grigio



LOTUS ROOT STIR FRY
4 servings

This is a creative dish Annie says can feature whatever vegetables you have in the refrigerator. Instead of the ones listed in this recipe, try substituting red peppers, baby corn, and broccoli. But you may really want to give lotus root a try first. A popular starchy vegetable throughout southern and eastern Asia, it is actually an edible rhizome (not a root) found underwater beneath lilies. It’s long, cylindrical, reddish brown on the outside, white on the inside, and full of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients. When sliced, the lotus root reveals a lovely lacy pattern of holes. Its meat, which is slightly crunchy and faintly sweet, can also be eaten raw.

Ingredients: 
2 ounces dried wood ear fungus (can substitute other dried mushroom)
8 dried shiitake mushrooms (can substitute other dried mushroom)
1 (4-ounce) piece lotus root (can substitute water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, or bok choy)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1 small sweet onion, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
Couple drops of soy sauce
Salt and pepper 


Directions:

  1. Put the wood ear fungus in a small bowl. Add warm water to cover. Let soak for 5-10 minutes. Strain and set aside.
  2. Put the dried shiitake mushrooms in another small bowl. Add very hot (not boiling) water to cover. Soak for about 15 minutes. Strain and set aside.
  3. Peel the lotus root. Rinse under cold water. Cut horizontally into ¼-inch round slices. They will look similar to pinwheels. Cut each round slice in half (or quarters, if desired). Set aside.
  4. Heat a dry wok (or deep skillet) on medium-high heat. When hot, pour in the oil. Immediately add the ginger and garlic. Stir very quickly until aromatic (about 3-5 minutes).
  5. Add the lotus root, celery, and onion. Stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined.
  6. When the vegetables are crunchy to your desired taste (about 10 minutes), the dish is ready to serve.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Free DVD Giveway!

There have been a number of memorable foodie films made over the years. Some of my own personal faves include:

  • Mostly Martha
  • Just Desserts
  • Ratatouille
  • Chocolat
  • The Big Night
  • Babette's Feast
  • Like Water for Chocolate
  • Julie & Julia
  • Today's Special
  • Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
  • Tampopo
But in case you hadn't already noticed, this year we were all really, really lucky to have had not one, but two! fantastic new foodie movies come out within just a few months of each other: "Chef" and "The Hundred-Foot-Journey."

Today, ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled -- absolutely thrilled, I tell you! -- to offer you the chance to win a FREE Blu-ray of "THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY" (which will be available to the general public on Blu-ray beginning December 2).





ENTER TO WIN A FREE BLU-RAY OF
"THE HUNDRED-FOOT-JOURNEY"!

If you're hungry for a quality film, satisfy your craving with the chance to win a Blu-ray of Disney’s THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. Fill out the entry here. But hurry! Deadline to enter is November 30.

*Synopsis: When the chill chef proprietress of a Michelin-starred French restaurant in southern France (Mirren) gets wind of a culinary immigrant opening an Indian restaurant just 100 feet from her own, her icy protests escalate to all-out war between the two establishments.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Your Very Own Knife Skills Class -- FREE!

Photo: Corbis
Ask any chef what's needed to become a good cook, and I guarantee you the answer will always, always be the same: SOLID KNIFE SKILLS.

When I started out learning to cook (which, sadly, wasn't until after I was married), I had no clue what I was doing. I just tried and failed...and tried again. At the time, I was absentmindedly using my dull steak knives to slice, dice, chop, and mince. Hey, it worked, ok? Or so I thought.

Fast-forward to today. I now sheepishly realize just how important it is to have the proper tools and skills in order to succeed in the kitchen. Which is what brings me to today's blog post topic.

By now, we probably all agree learning basic knife skills is absolutely vital. But look up any knife skills class at any cooking school, and trust me, they're not cheap! 

So instead of bypassing this crucial skill, you now have an option--a very good option!--because I'm beyond thrilled to offer you a:

Complete Knife Skills


This series of video classes, lasting nearly 2 hours in total, is taught by the one and only Chef Brendan McDermott, a former instructor at New York's Institute of Culinary Eduation who's most famous for his award-winning knife skills classes.

Actually, there are 4 different lessons with several sections each:

  1. "Introduction"
    • About Brendan
    • Four Basic Knives
    • Helpful Hint
  2.  "Essential Knife Skills"
    • Prepping Your Cutting Board
    • Hold to Hold a Chef's Knife
    • Low Cut
    • High Cut
    • Plateau, Julienne, & Dice
    • Cutting Onions
    • Horizontal & Pull Cuts
    • Garlic & Shallots
    • Helpful Hint
  3. "Shortcuts for Fruits, Veggies, & Herbs"
    • Cutting Jalapeño with a Paring Knife
    • Cutting Cauliflower
    • Cutting Citrus
    • Serrated Utility Knife
    • Cutting Tomato
    • Cutting Bell Peppers
    • Cutting Pineapple
    • Cutting Butternut Squash
    • Chef Knife
    • Cutting Avocado
    • Cutting Herbs
    • Helpful Hint
  4. "Sharpening & Honing"
    • The Science of Sharpening
    • Using a Honing Rod
    • Sharpening with a Whetstone
    • Helpful Hint
The beauty is, you can watch this series anytime you want because it never expires! You also get downloadable classroom material, 4 free recipes, and Q&As from your fellow virtual classmates.

All you have to do is:


Hope you enjoy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Copycat Starbucks Recipes

I told you all about my new part-time job at American Greetings last year. I also mentioned about this great internal area they have called Town Square, which features a Starbucks smack dab in the middle of it.

Let me tell you, that place is extra super popular!

And I have to admit, even though I don't drink coffee or tea, I have been known to go there a few times (ok, a lot of times). Besides great hot chocolate and strawberry smoothies, they also have wonderful desserts (my personal weakness).

After dreaming about some of these delicacies for quite some time (I'm obsessed, I can't help it), I decided to find out if there was a way to make them at home myself. And lo and behold...there is!

So, without further ado, I'd like to share some of my own personal favorite copycat Starbucks recipes--plus a few extra for all you coffee and tea lovers out there. Enjoy! (You can thank me later.)

*Just click on each caption for the recipe.

Starbucks Lemon Loaf




Starbucks Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake



Starbucks Banana-Walnut Bread


Starbucks Carrot Cake

Starbucks Gourmet Brownies


Starbucks Cheesecake Brownies



Starbucks Salted Caramel Sweet Squares


Starbucks Oatmeal


Starbucks Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino



Starbucks Hot Chocolate



Starbucks Pumpkin Latte


Starbucks Hazelnut Mocha



Starbucks Iced Espresso


Starbucks Chai Tea


Starbucks Iced Green Tea

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2 New Cleveland Food Shows, Coming Right Up!

I'm going to make two quick announcements...and I really think you're gonna love 'em!

Here goes:

1) Thursday, August 14, 2014 -- The world premiere of the locally produced culinary film entitled The Steel Fired Story of Chef Nowak will be screening at the Capitol Theatre on West 65th Street at both 7pm and 8pm.

Created by Cleveland-based Emerging Chefs, this film stars Chef Michael Nowak of The Black Pig in Ohio City, which specializes in French-inspired cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients and an innovative menu. Nowak’s entrepreneurial passion flavors every dish with gritty precision and authentic simplicity.

The film shares a “day-in-the-life experience” of an emerging chef and his growing family. It's a touching behind-the-scenes story of a talented chef and dedicated family man. 

video
Official trailer of "The Steel Fired Story of Chef Nowak"

Tickets for this film are free but are limited to 90 people per show. (It is recommended that you call first.)

“I am thrilled and humbled to be a part of this documentary,” says Chef Nowak. “It honestly portrays the challenging days all chefs and what their families must endure for the success of the restaurant.”

And...

2) Sunday, August 17, 2014 (9 pm ET) -- The Great Food Truck Race is back for a fifth season with a brand-new cast of food truck hopefuls, including Cleveland's very own "Let There Be Bacon" team, helmed by Matt Heyman, Dylan Doss and Jon Ashton! 


Chefs Matt Heyman, Dylan Doss and Jon Ashton always wanted to open their own restaurant, but Matt was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and the treatment left him unable to handle the rigors of daily restaurant life full-time. Now cancer-free, Matt is back in the kitchen with Dylan and Jon on the road to achieve their culinary dreams. Their menu is devoted to one of the major food groups in Northeast Ohio: bacon. These guys are funny, fearless, and ready to bring their bacon skills to streets across the country.

Each three-person team in the show is provided a vehicle for the race, but only the grand-prize winner gets to keep their food truck and a $50,000 cash prize to start their business. Hosted by Tyler Florence, the seven-episode series premieres on Sunday, August 17th at 9pm ET. 

Be sure to watch and support our local team. In the meantime, here's one of their signature recipes, just for you! Hope you like it!


Buckeye Bacon Pancakes
Yield: 8-10 pancakes
 
Ingredients:

3/4 cup milk
2 T white vinegar 
1 c flour
2 T brown sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 T butter, melted
1 egg 
Nonstick spray 
1 handful of peanut butter cups, chopped
1 handful of bacon lardons (cooked slowly)

Directions:
  1. Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside for 3-5 minutes.   
  2. Combine dry ingredients.   
  3. In a separate bowl whisk melted butter and egg into milk mixture. Dump dry mixture into wet mixture and mix until lumps are gone.   
  4. Spray griddle with nonstick spray and place on medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Sprinkle on peanut butter cups and lardons to your taste preference – the Let There Be Bacon team suggests plenty of both!   
  5. Flip pancakes when bubbles appear around the edge. Cover with more lardons and peanut butter cups. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and garnish with candied bacon whipped cream, optional.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Not Your Average Frozen Desserts

As a foodie and cookbook author, I have the real honor of belonging to several food-related organizations. Among them is the venerable James Beard Foundation.

As part of my membership, I receive several different newsletters that are chock-full of fascinating tidbits. I always find some take-away that serves me well in the future. But the latest issue contained something particularly interesting about a topic I thought my readers would really enjoy.  

Frozen desserts.

Not just any frozen desserts, mind you!

These are unexpected, unusual frozen desserts that will tantalize you...surprise you...delight you.

 I'd love to share them with you now.

(P.S. And if you think you know all there is to know about ice cream, be sure to take the short quiz below. You may be in for a big surprise!)

Photo: Stephanie Bourgeois

Tangerine Creamsicle Float
Recipe courtesy of Megan Romano, Aureole, Las Vegas

For her delightful spin on the classic soda shop float, pastry chef Megan Romano combines the tangy and creamy flavors of a creamsicle with the frothy, bubbly texture of a New York-style egg cream soda.

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
Tangerine Sorbet:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups tangerine juice (from about 8 large tangerines)
  • 1/2 teaspoon light corn sy
Cream Base:
  • 3/4 cup milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup yogurt, plain or vanilla
  • 1 cup seltzer water
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To make the sorbet, mix the sugar and water together in a pot. Bring to a boil; continue boiling until all the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the syrup with the tangerine juice and corn syrup. Churn in an ice cream machine. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer.
  2. 

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch and set aside. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar, cream, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Set over high heat and bring the liquid to a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to the heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and refrigerate for 1 hour. 
  3. Whisk in the yogurt. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

 
  4. To serve, pour the seltzer into the custard. Froth with a hand mixer until combined and airy. Divide among 4 tall glasses. Add a scoop of sorbet to each float.


Photo: Mira Zaki

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae
Recipe courtesy of Cindy Bearman, ABC Kitchen, NYC

Cindy Bearman of ABC Kitchen piles sweet and salty treats into this rendition of the classic sundae.

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
Salted Caramel Ice Cream:
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Candied Peanuts:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

Candied Popcorn:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups popped popcorn

Fudge Sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To make the ice cream, heat a large pot over medium heat. When the pan is hot, sprinkle 3/4 cup of the sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is a deep amber color, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the milk and return to a boil, stirring until any bits of hardened caramel have melted. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar in a large mixing bowl, then slowly and carefully stream the hot caramel into the bowl, stirring constantly. Return the mixture to the pot and stir over low heat with a wooden spoon. Cook until the custard can hold a line drawn on the back of the spoon, about 10 minutes. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer. Add the cream and salt; mix well. Chill in the refrigerator overnight. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer.
  2. To make the peanuts, mix the sugar and corn syrup with a few tablespoons of water in a medium sauce pot. (The mixture should have the consistency of wet sand.) Bring to a boil over low heat, then add the butter. Cook until the syrup is caramel in color, about 15 minutes. Add the peanuts and mix quickly until evenly coated. Pour onto a Silicone mat-lined cookie sheet, spread out with a spatula, and let set. Store in an airtight container.
  3. To make the popcorn, mix the sugar and corn syrup with a few tablespoons of water in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil over low heat, then add the butter. Cook until the syrup is caramel in color, about 15 minutes. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. Pour the syrup over the popcorn and mix quickly. Pour onto a silicone mat-lined cookie sheet, spread out with a spatula, and let set. Store in an airtight container.
  4. To make the fudge sauce, warm the sugar, water, cocoa powder, and corn syrup over medium heat until just boiling. Add the chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract and salt. Mix well. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm, or chill in the refrigerator until needed and gently reheat before serving.
  5. To serve, break up some of the candied peanuts into small pieces. Place 3 scoops of ice cream in each serving bowl. Top each serving with some peanuts and popcorn. Finish with warm fudge sauce.


Photo: Stephanie Bourgeois

Cantaloupe and Sun Tea Sorbet
Recipe courtesy of Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Columbus, OH

You can leave your ice cream maker in the closet: this food-processor method, developed by frozen dessert queen Jeni Britton Bauer, results in an ultra-smooth sorbet.

Yield: 1 quart

INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cups corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup loose-leaf black tea
  • 1 small (about 3 pounds) cantaloupe, rind and seeds removed, sliced, and chilled
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Make the tea: combine the water, corn syrup, sugar, and tea leaves in a clear glass jar. Screw on a lid and place the jar outside in direct sunlight until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is dark, about 2 to 4 hours, shaking the jar every hour. (Can be made a day ahead.)
  2. In a food processor, purée the cold cantaloupe and measure out 2 1/2 cups purée. (Save any remaining purée for another use.)
  3. Using a tea strainer or a fine sieve, strain the sun tea, pressing on the tea leaves to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the leaves. Combine the tea with the reserved cantaloupe purée. 
  4. Refrigerate the sorbet base until cold, at least 1 hour. 
  5. Pour the mixture into a large, shallow baking dish and place in the freezer. Scrape the ice crystals with a fork every 30 minutes. When the base is completely frozen, transfer to a food processor and purée until smooth. Quickly transfer the mixture to a new container and freeze again until serving.
  6. Alternatively, process the base in an ice cream machine until smooth, thick, and frozen. Transfer the mixture to a new container and freeze again until serving. 

Maple–Cherry Semifreddo
Recipe courtesy of Christopher Edwards, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Lovettsville, VA

Christopher Edwards served this semifreddo with a dark chocolate cake and roasted nut turrón at his Beard House dinner. Maple syrup lends this frozen dessert a deep, robust flavor.

Yield: 12 servings

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups raw cane sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon maple syrup, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Zest of 1 lemon
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Line a 48-ounce loaf pan with plastic wrap, using enough so that about 4 inches of plastic hangs over the edges of the pan.
  2. Whip the whipping cream to soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  3. In a large bowl set over a pot of boiling water, whisk together the egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and salt. Continue to stir until the mixture is very thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the mixture until it has doubled in volume. Fold in the whipped cream and dried cherries. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, cover loosely with the overhanging plastic wrap, and freeze overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, combine the fresh cherries, water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil and cook over low heat until the sauce reaches a syrupy thickness, about 7 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest.
  5. Remove the frozen semifreddo by inverting the loaf pan onto a cutting board and carefully removing the plastic wrap. Slice the semifreddo into individual portions and serve with the warm sauce.

TO TEST YOUR ICE CREAM KNOW-HOW,
click here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Free Movie Tickets!

FLASH NEWS! 
I am über excited to be able to offer you, my loyal blog readers, FREE TICKETS to go see the next newest foodie film: "The Hundred-Foot Journey" starring the formidable Helen Mirren!




  

Synopis: In “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. Displaced from their native India, the Kadam family, led by Papa (Om Puri), settles in the quaint village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val in the south of France. Filled with charm, it is both picturesque and elegant – the ideal place to settle down and open an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai. That is, until the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin-starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Academy Award®-winner Helen Mirren) gets wind of it. Her icy protests against the new Indian restaurant a hundred feet from her own escalate into a heated battle between the two establishments until Hassan’s passion for French haute cuisine — and for Madame Mallory’s enchanting sous chef, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) — combine with his mysteriously-delicious talent to weave magic between their two cultures and imbue Saint-Antonin with the flavors of life that even Madame Mallory cannot ignore. At first Madame Mallory's culinary rival, she eventually recognizes Hassan's gift as a chef and takes him under her wing.






The special advance screening will take place on Thursday, July 31, at 7:30pm at the Regal Cinema in Richmond Heights.You're advised to arrive at 6:30pm to ensure entrance!

To snag your free tickets, 
simply click here

You can request as many tickets as you'd like!



And for the movie's featured recipe for Beef Bourguinon a la Hassan (pictured above), here is the recipe for your exclusive enjoyment! Bon appetit, everyone!






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