Here’s wishing the happiest of Father’s Days to all the great dads out there, especially to my fantastic husband! If you want to cook up a delicious dinner for your favorite Dad (we’re talking Grilled Rack of Lamb, Grilled Potato Skewers & Grilled Pineapple), check out my mouthwatering, dad-pleasing Father’s Day grilling menu.
Category Archives: Blue Plate Special
Diet…lowfat…light – three words a French-trained chef doesn’t want to hear. I am no exception, until now. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of a fabulous new cookbook – Secrets of a Skinny Chef by Jennifer Iserloh, ace chef, recipe developer and generous colleague. The book is chock full of recipes Jennifer has developed to create a collection of tasty dishes that are light in fat and calories but loaded with flavor. Seriously.
I’ll admit I was nervous about my few days of eating Skinny until I tasted the Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk. It was perfectly rich and creamy, as butternut squash soup should be, and the simple substitution of light coconut milk made it a healthier alternative to my heavy-cream laden version, without sacrificing any flavor. My finicky family devoured it.
Jennifer even takes on popular takeout items, eliminating the fat in Just Like Takeout Sweet & Sour Chicken, which is a perfect storm of protein, vegetables and grains. Perhaps my favorite thing about the book — besides the mouthwatering recipes – are the Skinny Secrets, tips on simple ways to incorporate healthier fare into your diet. (That’s diet meaning the foods you consume, not those futile exercises in deprivation that promise miraculous weight loss.)
Skinny Chef Jen has put together a primer on how to navigate cooking and eating in a healthier fashion with recipes and tips that are approachable, delicious and life-changing. The Skinny chef way of eating is based on making smarter food choices and enjoying the food you prepare without the guilt that often comes after a meal. And even though heavy cream and butter will always have a special place in my fridge, I’m thrilled to have found a new recipe repertoire that matches my full-fat faves in flavor.
Order Secrets of a Skinny Chef at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1605295884?ie=UTF8&tag=skiche-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1605295884
Looking for a last minute gift for the kid-cook in your life? Tiana’s Cookbook: Recipes for Kids from Disney Press will give tiny chefs a taste of New Orelans. Inspired by The Princess and the Frog movie, the book is chock full of traditional Cajun cuisine – from Tiana’s Famous Beignets to Jammin’ Jambalaya and Yumbo Gumbo. All of the recipes are written for kids to make with lots of help from an adult, the perfect activity for a long, holiday vacation. You can find Tiana’s Cookbook at http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Frog-Tianas-Cookbook-Recipes/dp/1423125401/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263489246&sr=8-1.
As a personal chef, I’m fortunate to be treated to a new food adventure with every client or project. No two days are ever alike. Recently, I was hired by a company to manage a cooking demonstration at one of those ginormous retail stores where everything comes in bulk (because who doesn’t need 500 Tootsie Rolls, right?) making sure the store employees prepared the client’s product and distributed it to customers for sampling.
At the end of my long day, my feet were tired, my back sore and my Yes-We-Can-enthusiasm about the resurgence of American civility had morphed into an indignant Oh-No-You-Didn’t (neck roll and finger snap optional)!
Never in my professional life had I witnessed such bad behavior (and I think it’s worth noting that pre-chefdom, I worked for members of Congress, in a restaurant kitchen and for a boss who once threw a bag of coffee beans against the conference room wall in a fit of rage.) But that’s a story for another time.
What I learned that day is that my fellow Americans need a crash course in EAT-iquette – the proper way to eat and behave at a consumer cooking demonstration.
1. Respect the line. Don’t stroll past dozens of people in front of you with your hand out and then feign surprise that those same folks aren’t standing there for sport. Seriously.
2. It’s called a sample for a reason. Companies want to introduce you to their product, not buy you dinner. Revisiting for a second bite is flattering. Swinging back around for thirds, fourths or even fifths is just plain wrong. And yes, the people handing out the food recognize you even when you pretend every time is your first time.
3. Check your kids. Don’t send your little ones to grab a sample alone. The staff have no way of knowing if your child is allergic to wheat, peanuts or polysorbate-mono-blah-blah-blah and it’s never in good taste to let your kids run around willy nilly. You might not be bothered by Little Timmy kicking the shopping cart of the person in front of you or playing touch-every-piece-of-food-on-the-tray, but I can assure you other people are. Really.
4. You don’t have to buy to try. Don’t pretend to buy the product, dropping it excitedly into your cart only to abandon it in a nearby and usually inappropriate aisle. Hiding food in the sock bin is completely unacceptable.
5. Keep your hands to yourself. Never, under any circumstances, put your hand in a serving dish, no matter where you are. (I can’t believe I had to write that either.)Most samples are distributed in individual cups or plates. Wait for the staff to pass one to you or pick a pre-portioned sample from the serving tray (that would be the tray holding all the tiny plates or cups filled with food).
6. Tell your story walking. Once you have your sample in hand, step away from the table or counter to enjoy it. Under no uncertain terms should you stand and eat while leaning over the other samples or food on the table. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the rest of the General Public isn’t interested in eating a sample garnished with the crumbs that fall from your mouth. And whether you’re sampling or not, chewing with your mouth closed is a good thing.
7. Mind your manners. Last, but certainly not least, remember that the beings handing you the food are people. A simple please and thank you will go a long way.
So, next time you’re shopping and you see people handing out samples of food, resist the temptation to act like you were raised by wolves and mob the table while barking at the attendant to put more on your plate. Make America proud. Check your EAT-iquette.
You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve been away for a few weeks enjoying a grown-ups-only vacation with my husband, teaching summer cooking camps for kids and teens at L’academie de Cuisine (www.lacademie.com), attending the wedding of great friends, treating my 5-year-old to a trip to Sesame Place (www.sesameplace.com) and visiting the historic (and fun) sites of Philadelphia.
That hasn’t left me much time to blog, but in honor of all the grilling I’m sure everyone’s enjoying this time of year, I thought I’d post a link to an article I wrote several years ago for the Food Network Summer Grilling Guide. It’s all about — you guessed it — the good old American hamburger and how it’s captured the country’s hearts and stomachs.
I’ll get back to a semi-regular posting schedule next week, but until then…enjoy!