Monday, April 7, 2014

Food Fans Still Have Intelligent Choices

While it's true the first nationally televised cooking show was I Love to Eat, on NBC, hosted by
 Julia Child gives the KUHT audience a cooking demonstration
Title: Julia Child gives the KUHT audience a cooking demonstration | Date: Unknown | Source: KUHT | This picture was made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
James Beard in 1946, it's pretty safe to say that Julia Child's The French Chef, which had its debut on February 11, 1963, on WGBH, brought the food show genre into the realm of main stream pop culture. Those early televised lessons in French cooking sparked a line of publicly broadcasted cooking shows including The Frugal Gourmet, Graham Kerr: The Galloping Gourmet, Louisiana Cookin' with Justin Wilson, and Yan Can Cook among many other 30 minute epicurean tutorials.

Public Broadcasting remained the dominant force in food entertainment until November 23, 1993, when shows such as Emeril Live – hosted by Emeril Lagasse, The Naked Chef – hosted by Jamie Oliver, and Sara's Secrets – hosted by Sara Moulton debuted on the new Food Network.  For the next 20 years viewers were treated to an array of informative how-to cooking shows such as 30 Minute Meals – hosted by Rachael Ray, Barefoot Contessa – hosted by Ina Garten, Everyday Italian – hosted by Giada De Laurentiis, Grill It - hosted by Bobby Flay, and, my personal favorite, Good Eats – hosted by Alton Brown.

While some of these shows still exist, food TV is currently devolving from being an instructional resource, into a gluttony of increasingly silly food competitions.  For the record, I enjoy Chopped and Iron Chef, which show chefs working with unique ingredients in creative ways.  However, on any given day we can see cooks "sabotaging" one another in Cutthroat Kitchen - hosted by Alton Brown, cooks struggling to out cook Bobby on, the OBVIOUSLY rigged, Beat Bobby Flay – hosted by Bobby Flay, and chefs losing oxtails and chicken livers based on a draw of the cards on Kitchen Casino - hosted by Bill Rancic.

Even with the abundance of dumbed down offerings being served up to food fans, there is still hope for intelligent audiences.   One gold nugget, America's Test Kitchen, offers recipes and product reviews back on PBS.  However, I turn to online podcasts for the bulk of my food news these days.

Unless something comes up, Sunday is the day I listen to food related podcasts, including The Splendid Table, America’s Test Kitchen Radio, Wine Life Radio, Beer Sessions Radio, Cutting The Curd, A Taste of the Past, and the NPR: Food Podcast, which have stockpiled themselves on my ITunes through out the week.  I enjoy listening to them back to back, as if they were segments of my own Food Network lineup.

The nice thing about food podcasts, or podcasts in general, is that a listener can work and learn something at the same time.  This week I was made aware of labor issues related to cheese mongering, learned about vintages from Moshin Vineyards, was briefed on the history of culinary knives, and learned that experts are no longer advising people to eat low fat in order to lose weight & stay healthy.

The Splendid Table did a story about capers.  During the segment, their guest, David Rosengarten, explained, "They do make something quite special on the the west coast of the main island of Sicily.  There is a place called Trapani where they make a local form of pesto. They call it pesto, but it doesn't look like our pesto. Our pesto is very basily and green, but theirs is quite red because they make it with tomatoes. They also pound almonds into it and they add, of course, capers to it."  Intrigued by the idea of red pesto, I looked up the recipe.

Pesto alla Trapanese - (Pesto Trapani style)

Recipe found at


500g/1lb 2oz fusilli lunghi or other pasta of your choice
salt, to taste
250g/9oz cherry tomatoes
6 anchovy fillets
25g/1oz sultanas
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
50g/2oz blanched almonds
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
small bunch basil, leaves picked


Put abundant water on to boil for the pasta, waiting for it to come to the boil before salting it. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions, though start checking it a good two minutes before it’s meant to be ready.

While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce by putting all the remaining ingredients, bar the basil, into a processor and blitzing until you have a nubbly-textured sauce.

Just before draining the pasta, remove a cupful of pasta-cooking water and add two tablespoons of it down the full of the processor, pulsing as you go.

Tip the drained pasta into your warmed serving bowl, Pour and scrape the sauce on top, tossing to coat (add a little more pasta-cooking water if you need it) and strew with basil leaves.

I haven't had time to try it yet, but my point is that the show exposed me to  variation of pesto, which I wouldn't have considered. In a day when food TV is largely becoming a lineup of food related game shows, it's nice to still have access to productions which provide listeners with actual food related news and ideas.
Recipe prints as a single page for your recipe file or refrigerator.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Omelette with Goat Cheese and Herbs

I'm a big fan of breakfast. Well, brunch these days, since a two meal per day routine is helping me lose weight.  Nevertheless, bacon, sausages, biscuits & gravy, hash browns, pancakes, waffles, crepes, bagels & lox, donuts, and eggs rank high among my favorite foods.

Title: Omelette | Date: 01/09/2010 | Photographer: Stripey the Crab | 
This file is licensed under the 
Creative Commons Attribution-Share
Alike 3.0 Unported license.
The versatility of the egg makes it of special interest to me.  Equally good fried, scrambled, poached, baked, boiled, or cooked into a dish, the egg offers almost limitless possibilities for preparation and consumption.

A few years ago, I posted a recipe for one of my favorite preparations, Baked Eggs with Canadian Bacon, Spinach, and Aged Cheddar, which makes ramekins of savory cheesy gooey goodness, perfect as part of a weekend brunch or as a stand alone breakfast. 

More recently I shared my special occasion recipe for Scrambled Eggs with Brie & Black Truffle.  The Brie gives the scrambled eggs a smooth creaminess and the black truffle shavings added an extra salty/savory quality I highly recommend.

These are good, but time consuming and/or expensive to make.  Fortunately, included a recipe for  Omelette with Goat Cheese and Herbs, from the blog A Thought For Food, in one of their latest newsletter.  I read the recipe, and its elegant simplicity made me embarrassed that I'd never thought of it before.

The Chèvre (soft goat cheese) gives a rich salty creaminess to the center of the omelette while the herbs deliver a fresh savory flavor, making this a well balanced (flavor-wise) way to begin a day.  The ONLY thing I might change is that I might add some dill with the other herbs next time.
Omelette with Goat Cheese and Herbs

Source: A Thought For Food

Yield: 1 omelette

3 eggs
Splash of milk
2 tablespoons butter
Chèvre (soft goat cheese)
Chopped Fresh Herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives)
Salt and pepper

1. Crack the eggs into a bowl and pour in a splash of milk. Whisk for 30 seconds, until frothy.

2. Heat butter in a 10 inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and becomes foamy, pour in the egg.   After a minute, lift the edges of the omelette with a rubber spatula and tilt the pan to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath.

3. Once the egg starts to set, but is still loose, sprinkle the Chèvre along the center of the omelet.  Using the rubber spatula, fold  Sprinkle in one-third of the filling down the center of the omelet and sprinkle with one-third of the goat cheese. Using a rubber spatula, fold the omelette towards the center over the filling.

4. Transfer the omelette to a plate and sprinkle chopped herbs on top. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with toast or a salad or sliced fruit.

Recipe prints as single page for your recipe file or refrigerator.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Asiago Cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil - Micro Blog

Being a cheese lover, I was jonesing for something I hadn't had before when I came across a wedge of Asiago Cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil.  I ate it alongside smoked oysters and a lager.

Plymoth, Wisconsin's version of Asiago is produced with skimmed cow's milk and is infused with rosemary and olive oil, creating a pale yellow cheese with a rosemary/olive oil soaked rind and a semi-hard, slightly crumbly, texture.  The cheese's combination of rosemary and oil, and slow maturation process, gives it a slightly herbaceous sharp flavor.

Asiago Cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil is excellent in small doses alongside other bold tasting foods (smoked meats, garlicky dishes, full bodied beers, etc...).  However, it can be overpowering if consumed in large quantities, or when eaten against mild flavors.  All things considered, I give Asiago Cheese with Rosemary and Olive Oil 7 out of 10 stars.

Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Their Mistake My Mistake

The other night I visited a popular steak house chain and ordered a 6 oz. tenderloin filet. Admittedly, there's a difference between a standard tenderloin filet and a Filet Mignon.  

A standard tenderloin filet is cut from the beef tenderloin, which is a long tapered muscle located near the spine between the rib section and the sirloin. The Filet Mignon is a 2 inch thick filet steak cut from the small end of the tenderloin near the 13th rib.  Such a cut should be all meat, with little or no fat.

Title: Tenderloin | Date: 07/05/2006 | Photographer: Rangermike | Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
While what I ordered was a tenderloin filet, Filet Mignon not having been listed on the menu, it was described as, "The most tender and juicy thick cut," and featured one of the menu's higher price points.  As a result, I expected a quality piece of meat. 

Their Mistake:  The steak was seasoned nicely and cooked to the proper doneness, but it was stringy & tough, like pot roast.  I should have been able to cut it with a fork, but a steak knife and good bit of arm strength were required in order to cut into the meat.

The unpleasant texture was likely the result of improper butchering. Once all the fat is removed, one will see a silver, tough, stringy, skin-like membrane. If this membrane wasn't removed, it would've lead to the steak being stringy & tough, which it was.

My Mistake: Having received exceptionally good news from my cardiologist only an hour before the meal, I was in a good mood, with no desire to, "rock the boat."  So, to be genial, I told the waiter, "it tasted good," and let the texture slide.  By doing so, I didn't do myself, the chef, or the next patron any favors.

As a patron, I had a right to the tender piece of beef I'd agreed to pay for.  By not sending it back, not only did I jip myself, I also let the grill chef think he/she was doing a good job.  Doh, my bad.

Bottom line, restaurant patrons have a right to expect the food they're paying for to be good, and the right to send it back until it's prepared correctly.

Filet Mignon Wrapped in Bacon

This is my favorite steak hands down. You can add additional seasonings (McCormick's, Lawry's, garlic salt, etc...) if you want, but if you have a good smokey bacon I think you'll find the bacon imparts enough flavor that you only really need the salt & pepper.

6 Fillet Mignon Cuts of Beef (small end of the tenderloin)
12 slices of Bacon
Olive Oil

Remove all fat & ligament, then slide the knife blade between the meat and skin, to strip off the ribbon-like membrane.

Oil the outside of your filets and rub them liberally with salt and pepper.

Dredge steaks with flour.

Wrap each in 1 to 2 slices of bacon, using small toothpicks to pierce where bacon overlaps to hold it in place.

Place in small baking pan. Bake in a slow oven at 300F until meat is cooked to your taste.

Remove toothpicks and serve.
Recipe prints as page 2 for your recipe file or refrigerator.