Panko wasn’t Superchef Anne Burrell’s best friend

What is Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs without the “Rockstar” Chef Anne Burrell — boring!  I really thought Chef Anne would be the next queen of the Food Network’s Kitchen Stadium.   She won the initial Chairman’s challenge and eventually lost in the Secret Ingredient battle in the same episode…that really sucks.   And her dessert creation using the “weirdest combo” ever of Panko bread crumbs and Ponzu Lime was brilliant, the judges were very impressed.  But competitor Chef Geoffrey Zakarian edged her based on techniques…what a disappointment!  I’m pretty sure Superchef Anne Burrell wouldn’t want to work with “panko and ponzu” for awhile.

The newest cookbook (now a best seller) is out now though….Anne Burrell: Cook Like a Rock Star, and is packed with mouthwatering recipes.  I can’t wait for her to visit Chicago for book signing and check out her signature “hairdo”.

I’m including this French Toast recipe, courtesy of Kikkoman, to my New Year’s party brunch offerings to remind me of Superchef Anne Burrell…and it’s got the secret ingredient…breadcrumbs, yo!

Crispy Baked French Toast
Ingredients (Yield: 4 servings)

3 large eggs
1-1/4 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Kikkoman Panko Bread Crumbs
8 slices dry white bread
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Butter and maple syrup
Instructions

Beat eggs together with milk, sugar and Vanilla extract in shallow bowl until well blended. Place panko in pie pan or shallow dish. Dip each bread slice into egg mixture, thoroughly coating both sides; then coat both sides of bread slices with bread crumbs. Place on large wire rack.
Add butter and oil into 17-1/4 x 11-1/2-inch jellyroll pan. Place pan in 400°F. oven 1 to 2 minutes, or until butter melts. Remove pan from oven.
Place bread slices into pan, in single layer, turning over once to coat both sides of bread slices with butter mixture.
Return to oven and bake 15 minutes. Turn bread slices over and bake 10 minutes longer, or until golden brown.
Serve with butter and maple syrup.

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Dos Mamacitas’ Chorizo Authentico Now in Chicago

I couldn’t hide my excitement about a strong possibility of featuring Dos Mamacitas’ Diane Andrade-Strauss in the CelebrEATy Circle.

So emails back and forth began with Blake Davis of  Strauss Brands announcing,  “We just launched our amazingly delicious Dos Mamacitas Chorizo Authentico in Chicago!”.    And Blake provided this press release….

Strauss Brands proudly introduces Dos  Mamacitas’ Chorizo Authentico to the Chicago Market

Inspired by the classic Hispanic dishes she enjoyed during her childhood,  Diane Andrade-Strauss, wife of Strauss Brands third-generation co-owner, Randy Strauss, is so proud of this traditional, Hispanic sausage with the healthful and humane attributes that Strauss is known for. “Dos Mamacitas chorizo is made according to authentic tradition, with genuine, Hispanic spices and ingredients, resulting in amazing chorizo that is extremely versatile and easy to use. It is the perfect main ingredient for busy parents and avid foodies who need to get quick, easy, delicious and nutritious meals on the table for their families and guests,” said Diane  Strauss.

Chorizo is deeply rooted in Hispanic culture. Traditionally, chorizo is  made with finely chopped or ground pork, blended with a special mix of  spices. Bringing a new twist to the chorizo market, Dos Mamacitas Chorizo Authentico is made from 100% humanely raised veal, giving non-pork-consuming customers the opportunity to enjoy this traditional sausage. Paprika is the signature spice, which gives chorizo its characteristic flavor and distinguishes it from other sausages. Chorizo is not only known for its tangy, smoky flavor, but also for its rich, red color. It can be used to create anything from a simple breakfast to dinner entrees.

Incorporating Dos Mamacitas Chorizo Authentico into your cooking offers an easy way to spice up your family¹s favorite dishes, including quiche, chili, scrambled eggs, salads, enchiladas, quesadillas, tostadas and more. Chorizo has come full circle. Chefs, foodies and busy moms are using it in many creative and delicious ways. You can think of it as a flavorful ingredient that adds a touch of spice to any recipe, and it does so much more. I like to use it at breakfast by sautéing it with scrambled eggs. Mixed with soft, melted goat cheese, it works wonderfully as a dip; stuffed inside dates with almonds and then broiled, it makes a great appetizer. “Creative cooks and chefs everywhere are discovering that chorizo is a versatile and easy-to-use ingredient,” commented Diane.

In the Chicagoland market, Dos Mamacitas Chorizo Authentico is currently available  at Strack & Van Till, Ultra Stores, Fresh Farms, Super Low Foods and Berkot’s  Super Foods, and soon in Jewel-Osco.  A one-pound package typically retails for about $2.79.

Label claims:
All Natural
Minimally Processed, No Artificial Ingredients
Gluten Free
No MSG
No Nitrates or Nitrites Added
No Binders, Extenders or Fillers

Dos Mamacitas Chorizo Authentico is produced by Strauss Brands, Franklin, Wisc. Strauss Brands is the nation¹s leading producer of humanely and sustainably raised meats.

Veal chorizo…mmm, who doesn’t love nicely seasoned chorizos.   Back home, chorizos are called “longganisa”, and mostly made out of ground pork.  And they’re good, delicious, and so addicting.   Fried chorizos, fried eggs, and rice — that spells “Satisfaction”.

“Great news!  Diane is available for participation in Sarah Lee’s cooking segment.  Please let me know what the next steps are in getting her booked.”  — got this again from Blake after some Q & A via emails.   Wonder what’s Diane sharing with my TV viewers…?

Taping date was set —  and the excitement was really building up.   Details as follows:

*Diane is planning to cook on-air:  (1) The chorizo stuffed dates and  (2) Chorizo Fried Rice.

*A promotion or contest re Diane’s appearance on the show

Before the actual shoot, I made sure I visited  Strauss website and obtained more info on raising methods of veal:    http://www.straussbrands.com/.   (All of Strauss’ veal is humanely raised, 100% tether-free, 100% crate free and never administered hormones.   Blake sent me this picture of Strauss Free-Raised Veal…

Diane made sure she did her homeworks, she was absolutely ready for the cameras.    She wasn’t too sure what cooking gadgets available for her use in the studio…so she really brought her “entire” kitchen   — convection oven, burner, chopping boards, serving plates and forks, skillet, bowls and more.  Diane even timed how long it was to cook the chorizo, and finish the fried rice and the stuffed dates (Diane, you really surprised me, you are great!).   Diane (with Blake’s assistance) did the prep works and husband Randy was ready to jump in if his strong arms were needed.

And before the camera started to roll, Diane and I went through the presentation sequence.  And for me, really, I couldn’t wait to try the veal chorizos — the stuffed dates with bacon and goat cheese, yummm!  And we did it —- Diane was the chorizo uno mamacita (magnifica) and I completed the duo for the dos mamacitas.

Diane’s recipes of Chorizo Fried Rice and Chorizo Stuffed Dates Appetizer will be in a separate post.

Everyone loved the Dos Mamacitas Veal Chorizo — and I can’t wait to share my recipes using the chorizo.   Now for the giveaway….yes, yes, giveaway….Dos Mamacitas are giving away 5 cases of chorizo (10 lbs, yes 10 lbs per case) this December.  And you can be one of the winners…simply go to the website:  http://www.2mamacitas.com and enter your email address.   That’s it, that simple, that easy!
Good luck!

Diane Strauss
Creative Development Director – Strauss Brands

Diane Strauss’s personal philosophy for living an organic, holistic and sustainable lifestyle inspired her to   make a positive difference in the way veal calves are raised.  Her passion and vision for improving the health of children, the foods that we eat and the way they are produced inspired her to help improve an industry that has been branded with controversy.

With a strong knowledge of both design and nutrition she personally went to work in their veal barns, hoping to help her family create a healthier, kinder and more authentic way to raise their veal calves.   Together she and her husband Randy traveled overseas searching for better systems, environments and animal husbandry practices that could be implemented.  After five years of research and development Diane’s personal commitment began to take on new meaning when Free Raised® veal was launched in 2008.  Strauss Free Raised® is a fulfillment of Diane’s vision to raise calves according to centuries-old, authentic pasture-raising practices; always free to roam on open pastures, unlimited access to mothers milk and antibiotic and hormone free.

Diane remains a trusted and valued member of the Strauss Brands advisory team.  She oversees creative development and continues to influence livestock care and company direction.  Diane facilitates new product development through her culinary strengths as an experienced home chef.  Her personal passions are her children, cooking, spreading the message of an all-natural, holistic lifestyle and spending quality time with her husband Randy of 17 years.

Chef “O” and his Paella a la Viatimes

Before he left for Mallorca, Spain, some months ago, Omar Soriano, Jr. (everyone calls him Chef “O”) promised that he’d call me once he is back in town.

“Hola Sarah! Que tal?”
“I made it back from Mallorca and just graduated from Le Cordon Bleu this past Saturday.”
“I am back and ready for you (wink).  As of now, my schedule is flexible and wide open.”
“Do let me know details on when we can meet.  I did take lots of pictures (Mallorca trip) so I can share them with you and tell you some stories)/”

So we agreed to do our shoot last Wednesday.

“Sounds like a plan!  We are on…I love baking as well, mmm, show me yours and I’ll show mine (Sarah’s comment: Now Chef O you are sounding like Oprah!).”
“I have an awesome cream cheese filled bread.”  (Sarah’s comment: And I’m sure it’s not meant to be shared…ok, just bake me one and I’ll eat em all, lol.)
“I must say…I went to Cafe Iberico after my graduation ceremony and was disappointed with Paella I ordered.  It was too expensive…over-rated.  Even the Sangria was horrible.”
“Perhaps we can make our own twist and see what becomes of it.   Would you like me to do Paella with an Asian twist?  The only thing I can think of, for now, is to add some Patis (fish sauce) and a hint of Ginger hehe.”
“An Asian-infused Paella…I would saute some minced ginger with the onion and garlic…and to finish, drizzle some patis.”
“What do you think?  simple, yet elegant, and full of flavor…”
“I can also make a quick and awesome Sangria if there is time while the Paella is cooking.”
“And I will dress in my Chef whites with black pants and a Mallorca apron.  And for display, I have some cookbooks from gifts and collection that I just started.”

Awesome, awesome.  Chef “O” was so calm in front of the camera.  And his attention to details was remarkable.  He even let us taste his homemade longganisa (he accepts orders for these, yumm!).

He’ll be featured in the CelebrEATy Page in the July issue.  Thanks again Chef “O”…yes, now you’re back and ready to explore new venues…all the best.

Pls visit Chef Omar’s new blog, http://www.chefoblog.wordpress.com and get his recipe for Easy Sangria (really so easy and love love it!) and his Asian-infused Paella (with sinigang mix).

WINNING with Charlie Sheen’s Bourbon Cocktail Drink, Bourbon Beignets and Mardi Gras Madness


“What do you get when you cross an addictive personality, with a few cocktails, some drugs, some porn stars and a crap load of money?  C’mon…you can get this one…you get Charlie Sheen.”  I love this opening statement from http://www.mymansbelly.com’s introduction of a Charlie Sheen’s WINNING cocktail drink.

Charlie Sheen’s Cocktail Drink:  Slumber Party at Charlie’s
Source:  http://www.mymansbelly.com

2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1 1/2 oz Mango Puree
1 oz Blood Orange Juice

1. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Cover and shake vigorously.
2. Garnish the rim of a martini glass with Tang or crushed orange Pez candy. (I used the Pez candy)
3. Serve

Notes:
You can either buy mango puree or you can make your own by pureeing mango and adding a bit of water to thin it out a bit.    Number of servings:   1

Here’s another Charlie Sheen funny press release:  Bottle Of Bourbon Stands By Charlie Sheen Through Thick And Thin.  A local bottle of bourbon has announced that no matter what happens to Charlie Sheen it will always have his back through thick and thin. “I’m always there for Charlie,” the bottle of bourbon (let’s call him Doug) .  “I know lots of people are always asking things of Charlie, but I’m not like that, I’m a giver, a pleaser.  If Charlie ever needs company I’m always here, right behind the cupboard.”

So it is known Charlie Sheen and Bourbon are buddies.  And it is not at all a surprise if later on we hear  Charlie only likes his beignets laced with bourbon, ha ha.  Well, in case you like to serve Charlie Sheen’s bourbon beignets in one of your adult parties, then look no further, the recipe follows.

I recently sat down with Albert W. A. Schmid, author of “The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook” for the CelebrEATy Circle.  He was in Chicago recently collaborating with his co-author for the release of an updated edition of the textbook, “The Hospitality Manager’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits”.   Right after his name, he lists these: MA, CCP, CHE, CFBE, COI, CSS, CCE, CEC, CCA, MCFE, CSW and that scared me a bit before actually meeting him.  He was such a great conversationalist and we had some laughs while doing the shoot.

Of course, the main question I just had to ask him was “What makes bourbon…bourbon?  He referred me to page 2 in his cookbook for the requirements.  He mentioned that ALL BOURBONS are Whiskey BUT NOT ALL WHISKEYS are Bourbon.

*Bourbon must be made from at least 51 % corn mixed with barley and with rye or wheat or both.  Note that when the percentage of corn reaches 80%, the beverage becomes corn whiskey.

*Bourbon must be aged for at least 2 years in charred new oak barrels.

*Only pure water may be added to adjust the bourbon to the appropriate bottling strength.

*Bourbon must not exceed 160 prrof off the still or 125 proof going into the barrel.

How is bourbon served:

*Straight up (neat) in a shot lass or an old fashioned glass

*Over ice (on the rocks)

*with water (bourbon and branch)

*mixed with soda water or cola

It’s Fat Tuesday today and New Orleans is once again the mecca of fun-loving, beads-giving and AAA-nonstop-drinking guys and dolls from all over the globe…it’s party-time in the USA, baby.    So in keeping with the Mardi Gras theme today in New Orleans and in honor of onlookers screaming for BEADS (they scream for other “things” too!), here’s a recipe of Kentucky Bourbon Beignets included in the Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook.  Note that some flour is mixed with butter using a pastry blender until completely blended before wet ingredients are added and this step is unique and very unusual.

BOURBON BEIGNETS
Serve with very strong coffee.   Yield: 6 servings.   A “must-have” for a truly special breakfast in bed.

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup evaporagted milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon Kentucky bourbon
3 cups peanut oil
Confectioners’ sugar

In a bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour with the butter and mix using a pastry blender until completely blended.  Add the sugar and salt and blend.

Mix the yeast with the warm water until the yeast totally dissolves.  Let the yeast mixture stand for 2 minutes, then add it to the flour mixture along with the evaporated milk, egg, and bourbon; mix well.  Slowly add flour until a soft dough is formed.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and work it until it has a satiny texture.  Do not overwork the dough.  Roll out to a thickness of about 1/8 inch and cut into 2-inch squares.

Heat the oil in a skillet to at least 350 degrees.  Fry the squares of dough in the hot oil until brown on one side.  Flip them over and brown the other side.  Place on paper towels to drain excess oil.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

And lastly, may your neck be filled with layers of colored  Mardi Gras beads!  Well, you gotta earn those beads….and the key is “SHARE”.   Happy Fat Tuesday!

Fil-Am White House Chef Pays Tribute to Her Mom (Mabuhay Radio post)

Another link was provided to me by Joseph G. Lariosa re Fil-am White House Chef Comerford. 

 

http://www.mabuhayradio.com/food/fil-am-white-house-chef-pays-tribute-to-her-mom

Fil-Am White House Chef Pays Tribute to Her Mom

Written by Joseph G. Lariosa

Friday, 07 January 2011 13:54

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© Journal Group Link International)

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – Filipino-American White House Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford paid tribute to her family for its career-changing decision to choose Chicago, Illinois, area as their second home after they emigrated from the Philippines in 1983.

Comerford’s closely-knit sisters and brothers live in Chicago’s suburban Morton Grove, Illinois. 

In a rare interview pulled by a Filipino-American joint outlet, Ms. Comerford told monthly Via Times columnist and weekly Chicago Philippine Reports TV’s host Sarah Lee that “I was still a Food Technology student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (Quezon City) when my family decided to emigrate to Chicago in 1983.

“I don’t really know how my parents picked Chicago, but I’m so glad that they did. 

“I’ve always been a food lover. I grew up in a large family, so there was always food cooking in the kitchen.

“I smelled it everywhere around the house. Bulacan and Batangas are very well known for their wonderful cuisine. So these great-tasting foods were very familiar to me. I finished high school at Manila Science High School. I was really then a big science geek. Guess, I kinda married the two, and that’s food science, or food technology.” 

The interview took place before Christmas Season when Ms. Comerford received “The Chef of the Year 2010” recognition award from the March of Dimes Chicago. 

The March of Dimes is an American health charity whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. It was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to defeat the epidemic disease poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio, which Roosevelt had contracted at the age of 39. 

Ms. Comerford becomes the second recipient of the award first bestowed on Chicago-based Chef Rick Bayless, who specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine with modern interpretation. In 2008, Mr. Bayless was widely considered to be a serious contender for the position of White House Executive Chef under the administration of Barack Obama.

The Manila, Philippine-born Ms. Comerford said, “It’s very humbling. Of course, it is a great honor. The first honoree was Rick Bayless, and everybody knows he is a good chef and to be in the same category with him is very humbling. There are a lot of good deserving chefs in Chicago. Chicago is full of good, talented and wonderful chefs, and to be picked from that bunch … this is truly a very humbling experience.”

Ms. Comerford said it was her Mom, Erlinda, a dressmaker and a “great cook,” who had a big influence in her career. She said if her mother, who passed away last May, “did not marry early, she would probably be a Chef. She was a dressmaker. But (she) showed me the ropes, she made me watch her cooking every time. And she would use fresh ingredients, always. There was no such thing as refrigerating anything during those days; you buy foods fresh and cook them fresh.”

She told Ms. Lee that when she moved to Chicago in 1983, her Mom and her Mom’s friend working in a hotel convinced her to try out a hotel job, “just to check it out really. Somehow, it seemed like a magic door that opened up for me. Little by little, I began to embrace it. I was really liking it. And when I worked with one wonderful Chef, I was mesmerized with the culinary job. I knew then that this was my new career path.”

When asked what she will tell young people who would want to be in her shoes, the 48-year-old pride of the Philippines said, “Hard work and temperament. Hard work to me though is really secondary. Mostly it is temperament. When the kitchen fire flares up, figuratively, that is, you have to kinda like, put out the fire. When problems arise, you have to be on the top of your game. Simply put, it is knowing what to do even before it happens.”

For journalists to interview Ms. Comerford, they have to get the permission of the White House. Sarah Lee’s interview was some form of a coup. # # #

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 Sarah’s note:  I just got lucky I guess, Joseph.

 

Fil-Am White House Executive Chef credits her success to her mom – Pinoy Abroad – GMANews.TV – Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs – Latest Philippine News

Fil-Am White House Executive Chef credits her success to her mom – Pinoy Abroad – GMANews.TV – Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs – Latest Philippine News.

CHICAGO – Filipino-American White House Executive Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford, the first woman selected for the post, credited her success to her mom who was a “great cook.”

Comerford said her mother Erlinda, a dressmaker, had a big influence in her career.

She said if her mother, who passed away last May, “did not marry early, she would probably be a chef. She was a dressmaker. But (she) showed me the ropes, she made me watch her cooking every time.”

“She would use fresh ingredients, always. There was no such thing as refrigerating anything during those days; you buy foods fresh and cook them fresh,” Comerford said.

Comerford shared her thoughts in an interview conducted by Sarah Lee, a columnist for Via Times columnist and host of Chicago Philippine Reports TV.

Comerford said her family’s decision to emigrate from the Philippines to Chicago, Illinois in 1983 also helped her achieve the success she now enjoys.

In 1983, her mom and her friend working in a hotel convinced her to try out a hotel job, “just to check it out really,” Comerford recalls.

“Somehow, it seemed like a magic door that opened up for me. Little by little, I began to embrace it. I was really liking it. And when I worked with one wonderful chef, I was mesmerized with the culinary job. I knew then that this was my new career path,” she said.

Comerford recounts, “I was still a Food Technology student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (Quezon City) when my family decided to emigrate to Chicago in 1983.”

“I don’t really know how my parents picked Chicago, but I’m so glad that they did.
“I’ve always been a food lover. I grew up in a large family, so there was always food cooking in the kitchen,” Comerford said.

“I smelled it everywhere around the house. Bulacan and Batangas are very well known for their wonderful cuisine. So these great-tasting foods were very familiar to me. I finished high school at Manila Science High School. I was really then a big science geek. Guess, I kinda married the two, and that’s food science, or food technology,” she added.

Chef of the year

The interview took place last year after Comerford received “The Chef of the Year 2010″ recognition award from the March of Dimes Chicago in November.

The March of Dimes is an American health charity whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

It was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to defeat the epidemic disease poliomyelitis, commonly known as polio, which Roosevelt had contracted at the age of 39.

Comerford becomes the second recipient of the award first bestowed on Chicago-based Chef Rick Bayless, who specializes in traditional Mexican cuisine with modern interpretation.

In 2008, Bayless was widely considered to be a serious contender for the position of White House Executive Chef under the administration of Barack Obama.

The Philippine-born Comerford said, “It’s very humbling. Of course, it is a great honor. The first honoree was Rick Bayless, and everybody knows he is a good chef and to be in the same category with him is very humbling. There are a lot of good deserving chefs in Chicago. Chicago is full of good, talented and wonderful chefs, and to be picked from that bunch … this is truly a very humbling experience.”

Hard work and good temperament

When asked what she will tell young people who would want to be in her shoes, the 48-year-old Comerford said, “Hard work and temperament. Hard work to me though is really secondary. Mostly it is temperament. When the kitchen fire flares up, figuratively, that is, you have to kinda like, put out the fire.”

“When problems arise, you have to be on the top of your game. Simply put, it is knowing what to do even before it happens,” Comerford adds.

If her mother were still alive today, she would surely be beaming with pride not only because of what her daughter has achieved but because of the good example that Comerford is showing the world. – VVP, GMANews.TV

This Young Chef Rocks: Chef Rene Posadas, Jr.

My preliminary assessment…everything about this young amateur chef is positive — energetic, friendly, funny and great attitude. And with his fun approach to cooking, I have no doubt he is on his way to an awesome culinary career.

And when there was an opportunity to share the joy of cooking with his “growing” family last Thanksgiving Day, he donned the chef’s jacket, whipped up a special “gourmet” menu offerings and was ready to impress. Boboy has the skills and for him, “Cooking is not just doing something, it is his passion and it is what he wants to do for the rest of his life.” And after hearing how interesting, yummy and delicious his food creations were, this young Chef has really a bright future ahead of him. I won’t be surprised if he makes a big name for himself in the culinary world one day. All the best, Boboy!

Boboy highly recommends this turkey marinade for your next “turkey experience”, which he considered as “best” and is foolproof.

Boboy’s Best Turkey Marinade Recipe

First Rub the bird with Kosher Salt and Cracked Black Pepper thoroughly.

1/4 cup Chopped Yellow Onions

1/4 cup Chopped Garlic

1/4 cup Chopped Shallots

1/4 cup Chopped celery

1 bunch each- Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Italian Parsley (Finely Chopped and mix herbs together)

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup Dijon Mustard

1/4 cup Soy Sauce

Mix all the Ingredients together, and there you have your marinade. Make sure you cover the whole bird with the marinade inside and out for about 2 hours. Use the stems of the herbs and chopped celery to place inside the cavity of the bird for more flavor and aroma. Bake at 375 F according to the bird’s weight.

Enjoy and Bon Appétit,

Chef Rene Posadas Jr

 

 

 

White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford named 2010 Chef of the Year

Award was presented to Chef Comerford at March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction of Chicago, following in the footsteps of 2009 Honoree Chef Rick Bayless. Now in its second year, this honor was created out of a desire to recognize chefs with Chicago ties for their achievements in culinary arts. Chef Comerford is being honored for her commitment to culinary arts; dedication to the environment, the farming industry, healthy eating, and an eco-friendly lifestyle. Accomplishments include bringing nationwide attention to healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity.Chef Comerford began her culinary career in Chicago when, at the age of 23, she held her first professional culinary positions at two Chicago hotels. Upon moving to Washington, D.C. she became a key member of the White House culinary staff in 1995.

“She is so deserving, Chicago’s own, and will truly come home to a hero’s welcome,” said Celebrity Chef and 2009 Chef of the Year Rick Bayless, “My experience cooking in the White House kitchen was so amazing and unforgettable because of one person, Chef Cris.”

Here’s my interview with the 2010 Chef of the Year, White House Executive Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford (S – Sarah, C – Chef Comerford):
 
S: Welcome to Chicago.
 C: Salamat (thank you).
 
 S: You are a Batangguena.
 C: Yes, my father is from Batanggas and my mother’s from Bulacan.
 
S: Describe the feeling of being named as March of Dimes of Chicago 2010 Chef of the Year.

 
Chef Comerford’s White House Broccoli Soup
1 tablespoon butter
6 garlic cloves, sliced
4 shallots, sliced
1 leek, white part only, sliced
1 sprig thyme
1 small onion, sliced
2 heads broccoli, stems sliced, and green tips reserved for puree
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf

Kosher salt to taste

Method

1. In a medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, add the garlic, shallots, leeks, onion and thyme. Sweat in the butter until fragrant.

2. Add the broccoli stem slices and saute until softened.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and bay leaf and simmer for about 20 minutes.

4. In the meantime, blanch the broccoli tips in a pot of boiling water over medium heat until bright green. Remove the tips from the water and “shock” in a bowl of iced water.

5. Drain the green tips and puree in a blender. Set aside.

6. Puree the soup in a blender and strain through a fine chinoise [conical sieve] into a large serving bowl.

7. Add the green tip puree and season with salt and pepper, to taste.Serve piping hot.

Executive Chef Cris Comerford’s No Cream Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

2 pounds baby spinach, washed and cleaned

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Blanch half a pound of spinach in salted, boiling water. Immediately, “shock” the blanched spinach in a bowl of iced water. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Puree in a blender. Set aside.

2. In a large skillet, sweat the shallots and garlic until translucent. Add the rest of the spinach leaves. Toss and sauté until wilted. Fold in the spinach puree. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.

 

 

 

 

C: It’s very humbling. Of course, it is a great honor. The first honoree was Rick Bayless, and everybody knows he is a good chef and to be in the same category with him is very humbling. There are a lot of good deserving chefs in Chicago. Chicago is full of good talented and wonderful chefs and to be picked from that bunch…this is truly a very humbling experience.

S: We are really so proud of your accomplishments. So many firsts in your culinary career. You are the first Filipino, the first Asian to be the White House Executive Chef, and probably the longest running Executive Chef in the White House. You are also the first Filipina to battle it out in the Iron Chef Kitchen stadium.

C: Yes, what a wonderful year this is for me and my family.

S: You believe in simple yet well-balanced foods and promote clean, healthy eating.

C: I really do.

S: So many people, still as of this date, wonder how you got here, how you began your culinary career. Please tell us.

C: I was still a Food Technology student at the University of the Philippines in Dilliman when my family decided to migrate to Chicago in 1983. I don’t really know how my parents picked Chicago, but I’m so glad that they did. I’ve always been a foodlover. I grew up in a large family so there was always food cooking in the kitchen. I smelled it everywhere around the house. Bulacan and Batanggas are very well known for their wonderful cuisine, so these great-tasting foods were very familiar to me. I finished high school at Manila Science High School, I was really then a big science geek. Guess, I kinda married the two, and that’s food science, or food technology.

S: What are your favorite foods then?

C: Oh I love everything, really, everything. I can only hope there’s someone always who will just wanna cook for me.

S: Was there one particular person that influenced you to go into the culinary world?

C: That will be my great mom. She passed away just last May. She was a great cook. If she would have not married early, she would probably be a Chef. She was a dressmaker, but she showed me the ropes, she made me watch her cooking everytime, and she would use fresh ingredients always. There was no such thing as refrigerating anything during those days; you buy foods fresh and cook them fresh.

S: What do you remember about your first hotel/restaurant job in Chicago?

C: When we moved to Chicago in 1983, my mom had a friend working in a hotel. They convinced me to try out a hotel job, just to check it out really. Somehow, it seemed like a magic door that opened up for me. Little by little, I began to embrace it, I was really liking it. And when I worked with one wonderful Chef, I was mesmerized with the culinary job. I knew then that this was my new career path.

S: All these young people wanting to be in your shoes one day look up to you and really want to know what it takes to be a successful Chef.

C: 2 things come to my mind: hardwork and temperament. Hardwork to me though is really secondary. Mostly it is temperament. When the kitchen fire flares up, figuratively that is, you have to, kinda like, put out the fire. When problems arise, you have to be at the top of your game. Simply put, it is knowing what to do even before it happens.

S: So what’s your style of cooking?

C: With a pretty good solid French classic cooking techniques, it is then easy to embrace other ethnic cooking, or regional, or American cooking. So I say I adapt easily, I think I’m versatile enough. The test of a good cook is knowing what to do or cook with whatever ingredients available or on hand.

S: Tell us about your kitchen garden at the White House.

C: It’s pretty awesome. We planted that garden last springtime of 2009. This year we make it 50% bigger. And it has yielded more than 1000 pounds of fresh vegetables. We have lots of squashes, kale, hearthy lettuce, kholrabi.

S: I saw a printed recipe of your No-cream Creamed Spinach, really no cream?

C: Yes, no cream, but still the dish really tastes good. It’s all about adding or substituting alternative healthier ingredients or even doing different cooking techniques. Like you can puree things and make the texture of the food feel like you add butter in the dish.

S: Your American husband, John, is also a Chef. Does he like Filipino foods?

C: He doesn’t only like Filipino foods, he cooks Filipino foods. That’s a real blessing. He cooks pancit (noodles), he cooks adobo. The other day I showed him how to make dinuguan (with pork blood). He was very open to it, he knew the ingredients involved. He loves it. Our daughter Danielle loves Filipino foods as well. She takes some to school every now and then.

S: Does your daughter show some interest in cooking too?

C: She does, we let her dabble in the kitchen. And to me, the only way for her to get interested in cooking is to get her involved.

S: It must be pretty tough working in the White House. It’s documented that the White House officials are so impressed with the way you handle these big state dinners. So tell me, which is more stressful, preparing foods in the White House or at the Iron Chef Kitchen Stadium?

C: That’s a very good question. Both are very stressful. In the kitchen stadium, just imagine all the smoke behind you, all those cameras roving around. But since my main job is that in the White House, there is a different stress in there. It is a good stress though. That job keeps me on my toes always. Makes me really think ahead of time, instead of “firefighting” the problem after it happens. There, you really have to know ahead of time what might come up, and you just have to be ready for anything and everything.

S: You recently received a Mama Sita award back home. What do you remember about your trip?

C: Our kababayans (Filipinos) are so very warm. I was a simple Manila girl, and to be given this recognition and affecting so many people’s lives, it is an honor and a big responsibility as well. But it is a God’s gift.

S: Pinch yourself again, I’m almost ready to declare you as our National Hero.

C: (smiles)

S: Another distinguished honor is you’re now a part of this fraternity, a society of Chefs performing duties to heads of states.

C: It is really a distinguished group. Now we are about 30 members around the world. To be in that exclusive group, and to represent the USA, it is really a big thing.

S: In closing, my final question is, for this Thanksgiving day, what would you be thanking for?

C: I am so thankful for having so many wonderful friends, and supportive family. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I thank my loving husband, he has always been behind me all the time, all my decisions. My mom — just for all the discipline, all the hard work that she instilled in me.

S: I got one more question. 10 years from now, where do you see yourself?

C: I don’t know, it’s a long way from now. I’m just enjoying all these blessings. To me, whatever I’m doing right now, it is a preparation for the next thing. Trust me, I’m really preparing for some more challenges in 10 years.

 

CHAD STARLING, CHEF de CUISINE, ARIA RESTAURANT

 

Many thanks to

Fairmont’s Colleen Sweitzer for providing me this press release and also high resolution photos of Chef Chad and Aria Restaurant: 

The Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park is pleased to announce the appointment of Chad Starling as chef de cuisine in aria restaurant. “My philosophy is fresh clean cuisine to suit any palette.” With this in mind, Chef Starling has been inspired to redesign the aria menu. “It has been a labor of love. One of the most challenging and exciting endeavors in my entire career. I have been fortunate to incorporate my culinary experiences from around the world and the creativity of the entire aria team into one menu.”
Starling has also enjoyed getting out to meet local farmers and visiting the Green City Market. “Working with local sustainable farmers is a dream come true when designing a new menu.” And, for Starling, a nature lover, the sky is the limit. Michigan Apples, heirloom tomatoes, herbs grown in his own herb garden in front of the Fairmont, are just the beginning of this new adventure.

Starling, a Tennessee native, attended Chattanooga State University before realizing that food was his future. Starting at St. John’s in Chattanooga, Starling traveled to Flager’s and Grand Café in Key West and Wild Goose in Lake Tahoe before arriving in Chicago at the likes of Saltaus and Le Lan. With interim stops all over southeast Asia and world renowned restaurants in Las Vegas, Starling has even had a coveted mentorship with acclaimed chef Arun Sampantharvivat at Arun’s.

Now here’s a peek into the “no-holds-barred” mind of Aria Restaurant’s Chef Chad Starling as he steps out from the confines of his kitchen and faces my 20 sizzling questions. 

1. Name the 3 “must-have” handy tools I will find in your Chef’s Tool Box.

I would definitely say my Masahiro chef knife, my kitchen tweezers, and my Kunz spoon  (fyi, Kunz spoon is a large shallow spoon ideally suited for saucing plates; also enables to baste, stir, taste, pick up garnish, and form quenelles out of various purées and sorbets.)
 
2. If I get to cook your last meal, what dish will it be and why?
 
I would have to ask for a couple of things. Ever since my first time in a French bistro I have been hooked on croque madames. When I was in Southeast Asia I completely fell in love with pork belly in any kind of spicy broth with udon or ramen noodles. Those two things always make me very happy.
3. What vegetable do you eat most often? 
Probably chilies. I love heat so I put them in everything.
 
4. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one food you would want to have?
I would be lucky because I would have to have fish
 
5. Who is your cooking idol? Which chef inspired you in your youth? 
I would have to say Thomas Keller. In 96′ he released the French Laundry cookbook and I was blown away that someone could do those things with food.
 
6. Name at least two words to describe your cooking style. 
Bright, clean, bold
 
7. Do you have a favorite cookbook? 
I love Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet a lot. It has a lot of great authentic Southeast Asian recipes. I also really like Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson.
 
8. What is your favorite summertime dessert? 
khao neeo mamuang (sweet sticky rice and mango)
 
9. What is fantastic of being Chef Chad Starling? 
To be able to come to work everyday and live my dream and share my passion with the world is pretty fantastic.
 
10. What family recipe do you most like to cook during holidays? 
The woman in my family used to make amazing desserts like pineapple cream cheese pie, buckeyes, and peanut brittle that I crave every Christmas and Thanksgiving. (fyi, buckeye is a candy made with peanut butter, chocolate chips, and other ingredients.)
 
11. What food ingredient you don’t want in your food? What food ingredient you can’t live without?
My cooks could definitely answer this question for you. I cannot live without fish sauce and lime juice. It seasons almost every dish we have at Aria. One thing you will never find in my food is iodized salt.
 
12. Please name a favourite recipe:
To impress another chef?
Mano de Leon Sea Scallop, corn pudding, uni butter, Thai basil, and caviar
 
To comfort a newly-divorced friend? 
Young coconut soup with brown rice, and shrimp dumplings
 
For an easy and relaxing week-end “all-guys” dinner? 
Wild boar ribs with Thai bbq sauce and beer
 
13. Tell us about your unforgettable food event in Thailand. 
I was with the Karen tribe in the mountains of Chang Mai for a few days. We took elephants to get up there and lived with them for a few days. It was my thirtieth birthday while I was up there and they slaughtered a hog and created a feast that night that completely blew my mind. They had over twenty dishes on one long table and we all sat and ate and drank together all night. I had no idea what most of it was but it was the best meal of my entire life.
 
14. What has been the one best thing about moving to Aria Restaurant? And what has been the most unexpected? 
They have really embraced my vision and supported me 100% here, and it has been a phenomenal experience taking the reigns of such a well respected restaurant like Aria in the very prestigious Fairmont Hotel. An unexpected thing is that in coming here I am learning something completely new. We have a great sushi chef and I have learned to become pretty good at sushi, something I never thought I would get a chance to learn. As a chef you have to continually learn and evolve.
 
15. Please pick a recipe from the restaurant and tell us more about it. 
When I worked for Chef Bill Kim he showed me his mother’s recipe for Korean shortribs. They’re amazing, so we do a variation on the recipe and put them in our pad see eew, and also put them on a sandwich in the Aria lounge and our wine bar Eno.
 
16. If you could be another celebrity chef for a day who would you be? 
Anthony Bourdin. He has the best job in the world. Travel the world and eat…yes please!
 
17. What’s next in your agenda after being the head chef of Aria Restaurant? 
Right now I’m very happy where I’m at, but I think it’s every chefs’ dream to own his own place.
 
18. In your travels and culinary adventures, what is weirdest thing you’ve seen on a menu? 
Cobra heart that they take out of the snake alive at your table, and you eat it while it’s still beating. Pretty weird. (Chef Chad, I think you used “weird” for lack of a better word.)
 
19. Please tell me a simple way of preparing your favourite summer fruit or vegetable.I absolutely love heirloom tomatoes in the summer. I crave them all year and then you only have them for about 3 months. I like to slice them and put really good olive oil and fleur de sel on it and that’s it.
 
20. What do you recommend to students interested in a culinary career? 
Realize that you’re going to work for 12-15 hours a day for little money for awhile, so you better love it. Also, find the best chef you can to work for, don’t worry how much you make at first because experience is priceless. One more thing travel, travel, travel.

You’ll find Aria Restaurant inside the Fairmont Hotel at 200 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago.  For breakfast, lunch and dinner reservations and more information, visit website: www.ariachicago.com.

RECIPE: THAI COCONUT MARINADE

(from Aria Restaurant Chicago website)

A great yet slightly “out-there” marinade with coconut milk base for up to 2 lbs of beef, chicken or seafood.   Chef Chad use it for flavoring the hanger steak in Aria Restaurant’s grilled beef sate special with spicy peanut sauce.

2 cups coconut milk

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons curry powder

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon salt

Combine all ingredients together and add your beef, shrimp, chicken…marinated meat will keep fresh for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

 
Now take a look at Aria Restaurant photos…awesome indeed!
 
 
 

ALAIN ROBY, EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF

 

Chef Alain Roby is a world-renowned master pastry chef.  He is Hyatt Regency Chicago’s Executive Pastry Chef, and his fabulous Orange Sponge Custard in individual ramekin portions at the recently concluded Viatimes Hall of Fame Awards, was simply a “perfect finale”. And I had the pleasure of being in the kitchen with Chef Roby (thanks Brenna O’ Leary for setting up the interview/cooking demo) when he re-created this “spongy on the top and pudding-like custard at the base” Orange Sponge Custard recipe for CPRTV viewers.

Chef Roby holds two Guinness World Records for the World’s Tallest Cooked Sugar Sculpture and World’s Tallest Chocolate Building. He is a world-renowned pastry chef; he has been featured in food magazines such as Food & Wine and Chocolatier, and also in cable TV shows, Food Network and The Learning Channel.

I really like the design of Chef Roby’s Book. The recipe categories are simply spring, summer, autumn, winter and the recipes are not lengthy, easy to follow and merely call for really common ingredients. Even creamy mashed Idaho potatoes are added to make his Chocolate Mashed Potato Cake moister and richer (mmm, that really grabbed my attention). His to-die-for Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse is now in my all-time-favorite list, and I top this with our own MY San butter cookies or barquillos. And you have got to try his “always hit with the kids” Brioche Pizza with freshly-sliced strawberries, Chocolate Salami slices, and melted white chocolate drizzles…it’s truly amazing! His spring offering, Chocolate Pudding in a Chocolate Flower Pot is a feast for the eyes indeed, and just typing this title alone make my mouth start watering.

Chef Roby signed his book, did some photo shoots, and mentioned his book is perfect for anyone who loves to bake and a portion of book’s proceeds benefit the Saving Tiny Hearts Organization, an organization for congenital heart defect research.

Please visit Chef Roby’s website for additional information about his baking book, www.chefroby.com.

Here’s Chef Roby’s easy-to-make and party perfect “Orange Sponge Custard”:

ORANGE SPONGE CUSTARD (from Chef Alain Roby’s book: American Classics, Casual and Elegant Desserts)

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoons orange zest

 3 egg yolks

 3 egg whites

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup orange juice

1 cup milk

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F.  In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar and orange zest until creamy.  Add egg yolk one at a time and beat well. Stir in flour, orange juice and milk.  In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.   Fold egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, blending gently.  Pour into 3 or 4 -ounce buttered ramekins and bake in a bain-marie (ramekins placed inside a larger pan partially filled with water/steam bath) for 40 minutes. Serve topped with powdered sugar.