2 Homecooks getting “COMFY” in the kitchen soon…Winners!

Congratulations to:

1) Daniel Pentecost of SC

2) Andrew Chan of NY

Each one receives a copy of Meredith Laurence’ great cookbook, Comfortable in the Kitchen. And so as not to make them wait too long, Meredith is sharing this turkey meatloaf recipe.

Turkey Mushroom Meatloaf

Serves 8

Mushrooms add moisture to the inside of this meatloaf and then garnish the top for an attractive presentation.


1 cup rolled oats or fresh breadcrumbs

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 rib celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds ground turkey

4 ounces button mushrooms, very finely chopped (a food processor is perfect for this)

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 eggs

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 ounces button mushrooms, sliced


Pre-heat the oven to 350? F.

Place the rolled oats and milk in a large mixing bowl and let the oats soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and then cook the onion, celery and garlic until tender, but not browned – 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the oats and milk.

Add the ground turkey, mushrooms, thyme, parsley, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix everything together with your hands. Transfer the mix to a meatloaf pan or baking sheet. If you like a meatloaf with soft sides, leave the mix in the loaf pan, ideally one with a perforated bottom and a pan below to catch the drippings. If you prefer a harder crust on the sides of your meatloaf, invert the loaf pan onto a baking sheet and bake the meatloaf without the loaf pan.

Bake in the oven for 60 to 75 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 160? F in the center of the meat. Let the meatloaf rest.

While the meat loaf is resting, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and cook the sliced mushrooms until tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve the sliced meat loaf with the sautéed mushrooms over the top.

Again, congratulations to my “book giveaway” winners, Daniel and Andrew!


Cinnamon Apple Fritters with Caramel Sauce

Blue Jean Chef is QVC’s Meredith Laurence. Her book is full of homecooks-friendly recipes. And I picked this recipe as apples are just showing up in large quantities in the produce section. Apples are just perfect for fall parties. These fritters of apple rings appear like doughnuts. You may substitute with banana, pear, peach, pineapple or mango. Meredith finishes fried apple fritters with a dust of confectioners’ sugar. But I like it wicked…served with caramel sauce.


2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 2/3 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 to 3 quarts vegetable oil for deep frying

5 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into rings (use a mandolin)

powdered sugar and caramel sauce for serving



1. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, eggs, milk and melted butter in a medium sized bowl. Mix well. Let the batter rest for at least 15 minutes. This will allow th protein in the flour to relax and help prevent a rubber batter.
2. Fill a wok or deep fryer with enough oil to cover the fritters. Heat the oil to 375 F if you are using an electric deep fryer. If using a wok, oil is ready for frying when bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick when submerged in the oil.

3. Dip the apple rings into the batter and gently drop the battered apples into the hot oil. Fry until the fritters are golden brown and crispy, turning once.

4. Drain the fritters on a paper towel and dust with powdered sugar or serve immediately with homemade or store-bought caramel sauce. (Will post my creamiest caramel sauce soon) 

To purchase Meredith Laurence book, Comfortable in the Kitchen, visit:




Book Giveaway: QVC’s Meredith Laurence, Comfortable in the Kitchen

QVC’s brightest foodie star, the Blue Jean Chef Meredith Laurence, recently launched her new cookbook, Comfortable in the Kitchen. More than 20,000 copies sold — that is a best seller to me! Fans and loyal viewers of the Blue Jean Chef were all eager to receive their book orders in time for the holiday baking and cooking. An array of delicious, mouth-watering and eye-pleasing foods were on display: Lobster Mac n cheese, Filet Mignon with Blue cheese crust, Potato Gratin, Lemon Blueberry cornmeal pancakes, chocolate almond bark, marbled fudge, pumpkin cheesecake and the tall Cornmeal Layer Cake with Lemon Cream. I already have all the ingredients to make this special cake, but this cake is my Thanksgiving Day cake, and I can’t wait to wow my guests at the dinner table.

It took a year for Meredith to complete this book and it’s worth the wait. When I received my copy and flipped through the pages, I knew then that this book is a keeper. Recipe instructions are detailed enough and wouldn’t leave you in the dark. Start with the basic “familiar” recipes and when you get comfortable, as in Comfortable in the Kitchen, additional recipes with different ingredients are included to practise the cooking or baking technique learned.

Now the good news! The publisher of Comfortable in the Kitchen sent me 2 more copies of the book to give away, in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays.

For your chance to win (US residents only please), all you have to do is post a comment on this post completing the statement…

The dish I most want to learn to cook is….

2 winners will be picked at random from all the comments received by November 15, 2010.  Winners will be announced on November 16, 2010.

Good luck!

LAUNCH AT LUNCH: “Blue Jean Chef” Meredith Laurence Cookbook

This book, “Comfortable in the Kitchen” is with no doubt a relaxed, easy-handed approach to everyday cooking. It is all about being comfortable in the kitchen. Inexperienced homecooks are provided the basic (but great) recipes, encouraged to practise the basic techniques, and enjoy the pleasures (and pains too, feeling awkwardness and lots of finished dish imperfections included) of the process of preparing meals. Author Meredith Laurence encourages home cooks to “improvise”, experiment with different ingredients and flavors and really conquer the fear of trying something new in the kitchen. Meredith’s tips and recipe explanations provided makes going into the kitchen relaxed, fun and rewarding thing to do. And when in doubt, just remember Meredith’s fourth rule — “Taste your food before you take it to the table”.Very recognizable (marked with a star) in Comfortable in the Kitchen are Meredith’s Blue Jean Chef favorites and flipping through these pages, it’s impossible not to get tempted to run to the store, buy the ingredients, prepare the dish and get all the excitement and satisfaction of serving truly homecooked meals to family and friends.

“Tested and tested again, and again” Recipes (other than the Basics) include:

Curried Sweet Potato Soup (secret ingredient is orange juice!)

Lemony White Bean Salad (with Feta cheese)

Croque Monsieur and Madame (it’s a sandwich!)

Mango and Jalapeno Nachos (no sogginess, only oozing cheeses)

Fettucine with Tomato Vodka Sauce (without the boozy aftertaste)

Chicken in a Pot (“pot roast” a whole chicken to tender goodness)

Filet Mignon (with blue cheese crust, there’s no need to go to a steakhouse)

Turkey Mushroom Meatloaf (button mushrooms used both inside and out)

Chicken Chipotle Burgers (both stovetop and grill methods)

Swordfish en Papillote (a pretty package to open at the table)

Creamy Spinach Gratin (baked with crumbs and cheese on top, such a treat)

Peach and Toasted Almond Pancakes

Chocolate souffle with Molten Center

Raspberry Cheesecake (really luxurious and rich but a true delight)

Meredith make these Lemon Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes. The recipe is included in her book but she posted it too for her wonderful blog readers. Her website iswww.meredithlaurence.com.


Many of the recipes include TIP and are really a big help — not too lengthy nor engaging and definitely not a distraction from actual cooking. Here’s one tip (find it below recipe of Asian Shrimp Noodle Soup) that I am most familiar with and do the exact same process to peel and devein shrimp:

“To easily peel shrimp, start peeling from underneath at the legs and peel the shell away from the body. To devein the shrimp, make a shallow slit along the back of the shrimp to reveal the black “vein” or intestine. Simply remove this with the tip of your pairing knife and wipe it on a paper towel”

You can tell that a lot of time went into choosing and preparing the recipes in the book that will appeal to both beginner and seasoned homecooks. The recipes are quite varied and the choices are spot on. Even the recipe titles are not intimidating at all. I was hoping for more cake recipes though, since Meredith began her culinary career as a baker. I did check with Meredith about this absence of baked treats, but she gave no hint yet of a possible baking book in the future.

I asked Meredith (ML) to answer a few questions and she agreed to do an interview.

Q: Please tell us how you got labelled as the “Blue Jean Chef”.

ML: I’ve been known as the Blue Jean Chef for several years now, because I truly believe that people should be as comfortable in the kitchen as they are in their blue jeans. All you need is a little bit of cooking knowledge and some practice and anyone can gain confidence and comfort in cooking. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so we might as well be comfortable, right?

Q: There are lots of behind-the-scenes in publishing a cookbook, what were some of the challenges, and also what surprised you the most upon completion of the book?

ML: Well, every recipe in the book has been tested. Most of them have been tested and tested again… and again. That takes a lot of time and requires a lot of EATING! That was a challenge. Putting all the pieces together, from taking the photographs to designing the book, to selecting the paper quality took a lot of thought. But overall, the process was great and I really enjoyed it.

Q: What’s Blue Jean Chef favorite pizza topping?

ML: One of the pizza recipes from the “Comfortable in the Kitchen” cookbook, the Mushroom Pizza with Lemon, Garlic and Mint has been a long-standing favorite of mine. I do love BBQ pizzas, however, and recently I had a pizza with fresh corn on top which was delicious.

Q: Please tell me your seasonal food favorites or cravings — spring, summer, fall and winter.

ML: In the spring I can’t wait to use all the spring vegetables — garlic, spring onions, asparagus. I want green! In the summer, the BBQ beckons and I like to grill everything I can get my hands on. In the early fall, I’m all about tomatoes. They are so succulent and delicious then that I can’t get enough. By the time winter rolls around, however, I’m looking forward to turning the oven back on for slow cooked braises and stews.

Q: You included an Asian shrimp noodle soup in the book and of course, we Asians thank you for that. But I’m curious if you have dined in an authentic Filipino restaurant and if you have, please tell me the dishes you ordered and your comments.

ML: I haven’t dined in an authentic Filipino restaurant, but I’d love to. I’d welcome suggestions on what best to order! (I told Meredith to try: Mixed Adobo, Pancit, Sinigang, Kare-Kare and Halo-halo for dessert).

Q: How did you end up in QVC?

ML: I was a consultant to QVC once and they invited me back to do a series of educational shows called the “Tuesday Night Cooking Class”. I did five live one hour shows with them. Six months later, they asked me back to represent one of their proprietary lines of cookware. I’ve been doing that for almost ten years now.

Q: What is your favorite meal to make? Eat?

ML: I don’t really have a favorite meal to make because I like to keep things different and changing. I do love anything made with good quality, fresh, seasonal ingredients and love to try new foods.

Q: Name a chef you admire and why.

ML: Jose Garces is my favorite chef in Philadelphia, where I live. He now has eight restaurants in town and I love every one! His food is creative and perfectly executed, and his “front of the house” staff is the most professional in the city. Every experience at his restaurants is perfect. I’ve also always admired Sara Moulton, who has had several television cooking shows and was the executive chef at Gourmet Magazine. Sara’s style of teaching people how to cook has been an inspiration for me.

All in all, I love this book. I can’t recommend this book “Comfortable in the Kitchen” highly enough. For me, it is the most accessible book, a practical modern day recipebook for the casual homecooks. The clearly written recipes are not complicated, doable at home and so easy to get inspired and create own variations.

I read all the recipes and they are all so delicious sounding that I know the dishes will all taste fabulous.

It definitely stays in my kitchen and put to good use — not on my bookshelf collecting dust.

To Meredith: If it makes food tastes even better, I too will be in my blue jeans.


Meredith Laurence’s Comfortable in the Kitchen cookbook will be launched at noontime in QVC this Sunday, October 31, 2010.


About the Author

Meredith Laurence began her culinary career as a baker and caterer for a small independent bistro in Canada called Bistro Delight. She had formal training from the New England Culinary Institute. Her kitchen experiences include: L’Ousteau de Beaumanière and La Cabro D’Or (France), Zuni Café (San Francisco), Café Rouge (Berkeley). Later in her career, she also taught culinary classes at the New England Culinary Institute and manage two HomeChef’s cooking schools in California. She is also a fixture at QVC, doing live television works for a cookware line called Technique by Cook’s Essentials®. She also hosts a half-hour cooking show called The Fretz Kitchen, which can be seen from Virginia through Maine on local cable channels. She is an active member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.