Friday, August 14, 2009

Who do you love?...Top Chef Masters

Ok, I am a foodie (god, I hate that word) but I am loving Top Chef Masters as it is all about real and classy chefs working for charity. There is drama but it comes from without and not from Spike being a jackass or Leah cheating and scheming or Dale being a retarded hothea...oh wait, strike that one about Dale.
How can I not want Hubert Keller to win? He is so freaking suave and ...French. Yeah, baby, I know you are lookin' at me! But seriously, have you looked at all that he has cooked? From day one, I knew he was the one who should win. That Vietnamese gazpacho this week looked beautiful-- I plan on trying it out next week. He has it all ---remember that girl scout cookie dessert he made a the beginning? He definitely should win, but I can remember a potential spoiler about who really does win...hopefully, it was not true...but...
If anyone else should win, it should be Rick Bayless. I know I think he exhausts Mexican cuisine but I love his PBS show. Once I tried one of his pork, black bean stew thingys and the whole family went crazy for it. He knows his stuff. I love his whole mannerisms and cute little joking snarks he tries out. Seriously though, I don't imagine I would have liked that weird guacamole ice cream no matter what the judges were saying. I loved how he did his take on an Italian Chiarello dish the other week and it looked glorious, even re-done with a little spicier twist. So if Rick wins, that is very cool too. ....but Hubert is still the man!

And thank god the guy swinging the club is Chiarello! I have to admit from his goofy FoodTV show, I never dreamed he was some macho controlling dude, but hey, it's a fun surprize. I have a newfound respect for him. I had taken a cooking class given by two nutty older cougars who spent most of the time bragging about who they worked with in Hollywood and at FoodNetwork. ( p.s. they were the damn prep people but they bragged like they were chef de cuisine) and they kept idolizing Chiarello---saying he really knew his stuff and was all that. I tended to discount them as they idolized Rachael Ray (mostly, it seemed, because she swore like a sailor and liked her liquor--not exactly an unexpected revelation to me), talked about Tyler Florence like he was a hunk of meat (hey ok, before he beefed up? I'll give them that one) and then (horrors!) they dissed my beautiful Giada! Said her knife skills sucked and snickered at her cooking...then I sat back and realized: jealous cougars! bad cougars!!
So I didn't take much to their Keey-ah- rello line until I've seen him here. I like how he is (or is portrayed to be so by Bravo) as the hard ass, nasty dude. I love that he was down on that self-absorbed Zooey for her ridiculous diet demands and then won the damn challenge with something I'd even consider making. Well, I don't think he'll win but hell, go Michael! Love that you shot down that little shit Dale.

But who do you love? Well to quote the man himself:" I am hotter than a mountain goat at the beach. "For god sake, give Fabio his own show already!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nina's cooking day

Went to a vegan/veg cooking class last night and it was actually great! And I love meat. These vegan pumpkin cookies were a hit. Nina decided to make them today and everyone loved them. Don't know if the recipe is copyrighted but pumpkin, toasted walnuts, tart dried cherries and oatmeal are delicious and give a lovely fall touch to our first non sweltering day in SoCal for awhile.
Nina draws much inspiration from Giada and tackled an "intermediate" recipe tonight. Penne with roasted vegetables. She worked hard on her own (my how the kitchen looked when it finally went into the oven!) and did a great job.

Starting to come together here. Everything from scratch but the Cento marinara sauce--hey, Giada said to use bottled marinara sauce!

Coming out of the oven! The house smelled glorious.

Isn't this wonderful looking? We only changed one thing: turned down the oven temp to 375 after 10 minutes otherwise that would have been heckofa crispy pasta. Loved by all and just as good as those vegan cookies. AND! I didn't have to cook--just help with some cleanup. I am so proud of her.

So my project involves using my pickling cucumbers, like Baba did--Slovakian style brine/garlic pickles. I read Ruhlman's blog awhile ago about how to do it (why did I always doubt Mom when she told me? He did it just like her). 1:20 brine and I added smashed garlic and dill fresh from my crazy dill patch.

I used Baba's small pickling jar that Mom had given me. Baba would always make these throughout summer. The smell of that brine with the dill was screaming summer in Pennsylvania to me.

The creative part of my project was how to keep the pickles at 65 degrees or so for 7 days when there are no basements in SoCal and it is HOT! So I am putting it in a small Igloo with some ice packs which I will periodically change out to keep it cool. If it's too hot, it will slime and too cool will be soggy and yukky. So I will know in a week or so.......