Last night, Electrolux hosted a demonstration of their dreamy ICON kitchen equipment at their new showroom, the Desiron Gallery in Soho. River Café chef Brad Steelman cooked an early spring dinner on the induction cooktop, convection oven, warming drawer and high-speed oven—four impressive appliances.
I loved learning how the air in the small high speed oven circulates at 60 miles an hour to bake the molten chocolate cakes in a mere 8 minutes. “I admit the desserts are a cliché,” said Steelman. “But they’re always delicious and impressive.” (True and true: In fact, our own Grace Parisi created amazingly gooey variations on the cakes here).
But the thing I learned that I could take to my own kitchen (the ICON equipment, while beautiful, is a bit out of my price range) is to make risotto with water…at least partially. Since good chicken stock is gelatinous when cool, it can quickly help turn your runny, creamy risotto into a thick, gluey mess. Steelman said he likes to lighten risotto by using water most of the time and adding stock toward the end to enrich its flavor. A great tip, I think.
Oh, and for those curious about the fate of the horrible bitter taste caused by evil pine nuts, it is thankfully, gone! Just in time for the Best New Chef party.
We at F&W pride ourselves on our prognosticating powers. And we especially love when we're called out for it: A recent New York Times article mentioned the biggest trend we see for 2009—the increasing desire to cook at home. While the piece stated that home-cooked meals are typically more healthful than those prepared at restaurants, just how much more depends on who's doing the cooking. A Cornell University study looked into the habits of nearly 800 family cooks and found these five distinct cooking personalities. Take the quiz to figure out your personality, then follow the delicious recipes below:
Giving Cooks stick to tried-and-true, classic comfort food. Try cheesy baked spaghetti and chicken potpie with cream biscuit topping.
Methodical Cooks rely on recipes and love the orderliness of following them step-by-step. Try our Recipe of the Day tool for daily recipes like battered cod and a spicy, soothing chicken-and-rice soup with shrimp.
Healthy Cooks tend to cook fish and use fresh produce. Try pan-seared monkfish with a garlicky tomato sauce and halibut with a green-papaya slaw.
Competitive Cooks are all about impressing their guests. Try impressive hors d'oeuvres like flaky cheese-and-leek-filled phyllo rolls and Wolfgang Puck's potato pancakes with smoked salmon, caviar and dill cream.
Innovative Cooks are into experimenting with different cooking methods. Try avant-garde chef Ferran Adrià's ingenious spin on spaghetti (he toasts it) and Michel Bras's roasted bananas with candied nuts.
What happens when you put six star chefs in the same kitchen? In the case of Seattle's Thierry Rautureau (Rover's), Maria Hines (Tilth), Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez (The Harvest Vine), Johnathan Sundstrom (Lark), Jason Wilson (Crush) and Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita), you get an ingenious musical-chairs-like dinner series called Seattle Chefs Table 2009. "The idea—six chefs and six courses at six restaurants—was born in the face of this horrible economy," says Rautureau, who hosted the first dinner a few weeks ago at Rover's, taking care of the hors d'oeuvres, while the other five chefs handled the remaining courses. This evening, the chefs are convening at Tilth, where the menu includes dishes like vanilla-scented lobster by Jiménez de Jiménez, handmade garganelli with uni by Sundstrom and almond financiers with Meyer lemon preserve by Hines. The dinner series ($90 per meal) have been such a hit that the chefs have just announced a second night of dinners. Here, the remaining dinners:
The Harvest Vine: April 13 (2701 E. Madison St.; 206-320-9771 or harvestvine.com)
Lark: May 19 (926 12th Ave.; 206-323-5275 or larkseattle.com)
Cafe Juanita: September 22 (9702 NE 120th Pl., Kirkland; 425-823-1505 or cafejuanita.com)
Crush: October 19 (2319 E Madison St.; 206-302-7874 or chefjasonwilson.com)
Undisclosed location: mid-November for a "Holiday Feast" celebrating six different holiday themes.
For those unable to make it to Seattle for one of the dinners, create your own with these superb recipes:
Hines's Salmon with Oyster Mushrooms and Peppers
Wilson's Herb-and-Spice Lamb Chops
Sundstrom's Herb-Grilled Chicken with Goat Cheese Ravioli
© Chris Quinlan
Michael Symon with the new Calphalon Sear Nonstick pan
I attended a demo Thursday morning at a Williams-Sonoma led by former F&W Best New Chef
and Iron Chef Michael Symon
, who cooked with Calphalon’s new line of pans, the Sear Nonstick and Slide Nonstick. Made in Toledo, Ohio, these pans have solved the four main complaints about nonstick: You can actually sear meat, which means you can also make a pan sauce with all those tasty little caramelized bits; they’re oven-safe to 500 degrees; and they really are nonstick—even without butter or oil. They are also dishwasher safe. To show the line’s versatility Symon made steak and eggs (a godsend at the early morning demo after one glass too many of delicious, fruity Casa de la Ermita Rosado
the night before at Manhattan's Irving Mill
–a blog topic for another day). Using the Sear Nonstick pan, Symon seared the bone-in Delmonico steak on the cooktop and then finished it in the oven. He deglazed the pan with red wine, added some mushrooms and a little stock and finished it with butter for the perfect sauce. He fried an egg in the Slide Nonstick pan and topped it with blue cheese. It released effortlessly, even with the gummy, melted blue cheese. The pans are available at the end of the month at Williams-Sonoma
and at other national retailers this summer. They start at $50 and include everything from sauté pans to woks and Dutch ovens.
Two of my favorite California chefs are serving real feasts later this month at ridiculously recession-friendly prices. I encourage anyone within a 100-mile radius to check them both out; it could make for perhaps the best head-to-farm-to-tail-to-table week ever. At San Francisco's Incanto, Chris Cosentino's got not one, but two Head-to-Tail dinners planned for Monday, March 23 and Wednesday, March 25, with five ingenious courses--including venison-heart tartare with foie gras--all for a mere $75, wine not included. Then on Friday, March 27 at Craft Los Angeles, Matt Accarrino continues his nifty "Farm-maker" series, featuring produce from a single nearby farm: This month it's Hollister, California's Heirloom Organics. Accarrino's put together a whopping 13 courses – small plates such as Fried Kusshi Oysters with Parsley Root Remoulade and Parsley-Lemon Confit – for only $100, including course pairings of wine, beer and carrot juice.
Inspired by express supermarket checkout lanes, the Washington Post's
Food and Dining section ran a fun slideshow today with recipes that call for nine ingredients or fewer. Here, our own recipes that call for five or fewer ingredients, not including pantry staples like salt, pepper and oil:Creamy Leek and Potato Soup Mustard-Baked Chicken with a Pretzel Crust Bucatini with Pancetta, Pecorino and Pepper
Swordfish with Orzo, Pistachios and Olives
Chicken Paillard with Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad
As snowfall continues to blanket much of the East Coast, distinct snow personalities are emerging. Here, an (unscientific) survey, and our recipe suggestions for each:
Personality: The Powder Fiend
First thought: Sledding!
Recipe suggestions: Hot chocolate to take along in a thermos including an ultrarich version topped with coconut cream, plus portable sandwiches like pita bread stuffed with deviled egg salad and strips of steak.
Personality: The Aesthete
First thought: How gorgeous!
Recipe suggestions: Stunning all-white dishes to match the snow like a decadent cauliflower puree made with both cream and butter and a chicken-and-almond stir-fry.
Personality: The Hermit
First thought: Let me hibernate!
Recipe suggestions: Dishes that make ingenious use of pantry staples like a chunky chickpea dip or figs in a blanket (dried figs stuffed with nuts and wrapped in slices of prosciutto).
Sadly, F&W's Test Kitchen is temporarily relocating to another space while our offices undergo renovations. Unfortunately, that means packing and moving equipment, pantry items and all sorts of nonperishable necessities. What it also means is clearing out and cleaning out our fridges of all fresh ingredients. We filled our "give-away table" with cheese, eggs, broccoli, half-full jars (optimist that I am) of jam, mayo, mustard, pickles, chutney, hot sauce and various and sundry condiments for the staff to take home. Of course, I kept a few things for myself—a few slices of pancetta, some moldy pecorino (which I cleaned up), a slightly wilted endive and a lemon, all of which went into my clearing-house salad. I cleaned out my fridge at home to complete the meal, and it was a huge success, not to mention a pleasant surprise.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices pancetta
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 pocketless pita
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Romaine lettuce heart, coarsely shredded
1 red endive (traviso), sliced
1/2 can drained chickpeas
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces sliced young pecorino (Sardinian pecorino)
2 slices turkey breast, shredded
4 hard cooked eggs, quartered
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Add the pine nuts to the skillet and toast, stirring, until golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Add the pita to the skillet and toast until golden, about 2 minutes, turning once or twice. Cut into quarters.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, mayonnaise and garlic with the remaining oil. Add the lettuce, endive and chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and toss. Arrange the pancetta, pine nuts, pecorino, turkey and eggs on top and serve with the pita.
Last Friday, the seventh-floor conference room at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square could have been the Kodak theater at this Sunday's Oscars, for all the excitement generated by the 3rd Annual Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off. Six finalists chosen from nearly 2,000 entrants each had passionate partisans cheering them on as they competed for serious prizes: $25,000 in GE appliances—and Manischewitz products. Myra Smolev was cracking jokes as she assembled her delicious Sloppy Moses potato pancakes stuffed with ground beef and mushrooms; Deborah Leebove from Denver nearly lost it but managed a miraculous recovery when she realized her oven wasn't on to bake her superfluffy Mani Meatloaves. They each hoped to make the tastiest dish in under an hour using at least one Manischewitz product; I got to be a judge. I had no idea, but the New Jersey–based company, founded in 1888, today makes over 400 items, everything from matzo to kosher pasta sauces. Only about a dozen were used, particularly the borscht (which turned out to be great flavorer for Shana Schuman's Meaty Manischtroni), and the Tam Tam crackers (Leebove's meatloaf secret weapon). The winner used the falafel mix: Calm, collected Amy Siegel from Clifton, NJ, came through with her Marvelous Mediterranean Falafel Sliders—juicy mini burgers made with ground turkey and topped with caramelized onions that I'd readily make myself. Congratulations, Amy. But watch your back—I may have to enter next year.
With little notice, we are moving our Test Kitchen to temporary digs across town. Not only do we have to pack up equipment and tools, we have to empty our freezers—freezers that (in my case) have housed long-since-forgotten items, held on to for some future use. (I've had this fridge since 2002...) It's sort of liberating to get rid of things, but I must say, I'm very sad at tossing my two quarts of rendered duck fat. Yes, I could take it home to fry potatoes, but I'd like to someday meet my grandkids....
I did find several packages of frozen sweet cherries that I couldn't bear to toss (remember how thrifty/cheap I am). I didn't feel like baking them into a clafouti or pastry, so I threw them into a food processor with some honey and lemon juice and made a superfast sorbet. Since I can't eat it all in one sitting, it will have to go back into the freezer, but with a few more days until the move, I'm sure it won't get lost in there.
QUICK CHERRY SORBET
MAKES 4 CUPS
Two 10-ounce bags frozen sweet cherries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Scoop and serve!