Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Food = Love

Ok, some of you may debate me on this, but I've been giving it a great deal of thought to this lately. When you hear someone say "Food = Love", you tend to picture some 500-hundred pound person ( or you know, me) shoving his or her 8th cupcake in row in their mouth substituting food for love. I don't.

I cook for a living. It's what I do, and I love it. To me, nothing shows someone that I care about them more than using my own hands to pull together something delicious that I know he or she will enjoy. Now, occasionally this has a detrimental effect on the recipient's waistline, especially if I really love them. But more often than not, it's just the best way that I can express myself, and maybe you feel the same way.

A friend just passed away and I had no idea how to show that I care about her and her family. They have more than enough friends helping out, and I'm certain, casseroles and dinners, to get though this really impossible time. How to contribute without being annoying or overly involved was the question, so I did what I know how to do. I baked cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. Because just between you and me, I make a pretty good chocolate chip cookie, and it's something that I know folks like.

Now, I may have gone a little "cookie-crazy" (15-dozen very large, round, and plump morsels of chocolate-chippy goodness), but it felt good to do that baking. Almost cathartic. It felt great to contribute, and truthfully, I felt better myself in doing it. Judging from all of the contributions to the dessert table, I don't think that I'm the only one who feels this way.

Sometimes, a cookie is just a cookie. But other times, a cookie, made by someone who cares, is so much more than that. So I say this: Bake some cookies, make a cake, banana bread is always good, but cook something every once and a while because, well, you'll just make someone feel better and maybe help yourself along in the process. Because sometimes, love means warm chocolate chips delivered on someone's doorstep just when they need it most.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Beef Tenderloin Done Right

Do you love beef tenderloin? Are you not quite sure how to make it and make it right? Well have I got a blog for you! One of my students, Jeff Martin, was kind enough to send me some pics of a beef tenderloin he prepared after he and his wife Deena took the Holiday Beef Tenderloin class down at The Kitchen Studio.

Now Jeff seemed like he had a pretty good clue how to work a tenderloin when he walked in, but I'd like to think that we gave him a few pointers to help it turn out as beautifully as it did.

Not sure why we're talking about beef tenderloin when the holidays are over? Well, I don't think it's necessary to wait for a special occasion to prepare this simple, yet elegant and special main dish. Plus, the price per pound usually drops big time once the new year rolls around.

Check it out--here's what Jeff did:

Trim the tenderloin of all it's nastiness, then cut it into two pieces so that it will fit in the saute pan.

Heat a saute pan (NOT non-stick please) over medium-high heat with a bit of oil. Don't move it around; just set it set there for 3 or 4 minutes until a beautiful brown crust has formed.

Remove the tender from the pan and rub with something yummy (Jeff and I used a mustard-herb rub with coarse grain mustard, thyme, savory, and a touch of oil and s&p that I got from Fine Cooking Magazine 10+ years ago).

Roast until the tender reaches and internal temp of 125-135 degrees, then let rest for 10 minutes (this is important!).

Show off and be proud of the yummy deliciousness that you helped create then slice and serve.

Thanks for sending these in Jeff!

Have you made something from one of our classes that you want to show off? Send us your pictures and let us know what class it was from and we'll post a blog about it. You can get us at Happy Cooking!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Little Dumplings of Potato Love

Wow -- I don't know about you, but I am absolutely cooked from the holidays. Too much of a good thing I suppose, with the friends, and the parties, and the cocktails, not to mention the complete lack of physical activity that wasn't work related. I suppose it's a cliche, but new year, new attitude!

I started of my new year last night with a wonderful (if I do say so myself) dinner of homemade gnocchi. For those of you who don't know what these are, they are delicious little potato dumplings that are a snap to make. In fact, I'm teaching a gnocchi class on January 11 so I thought it would be best to brush up on my technique.

Gnocchi must be popular right now because not only did I find a great new recipe in a recent issue of one of my cooking magazines, but Martha Stewart also had one on her show, and with Francis Ford Coppola at that! You can check out Martha's recipe and/or the video here:

On my end, I had the kids pitch in to get things rolling (so to speak). The recipe is basic: Cook 2 pounds of potatoes (whole with the skins on) until tender, about 45 minutes, Mash & cool the potatoes, Add eggs, flour, salt, & pepper, Make a dough, roll it out and viola!, gnocchi!
You may be saying to yourself, "Self, why would I want to go to that trouble for some little dumplings?" Well let me tell you, they are sooooo worth it.

Now, I've never met a carb that I didn't like. Really. And to me, little dumplings covered with sauce, well, it just doesn't get better than that. I've taken the short cut for years, buying frozen gnocchi. I had almost forgotten what the real thing tastes like. They are so much better than frozen, that there's really no comparison. They are light, almost ethereal. They don't sit like lead in your belly. The are more than just an SDD (sauce delivery device). These babies are good.

Gnocchi are so easy to prepare, I even had the kids pitch in. Not only did they have a blast, but they did a great job too.

Our one issue was that ours were a bit too big initially. In this case, bigger is not always better. The gnocchi were more manageable once we rolled the dough to about the diameter of my thumb. The kids even managed to get the little ridges going by using the back of a fork. I've since ordered 3 gnocchi boards for the class next week just so that the students will have the real deal if they're interested ( - $2.99 each).
One last bit of info on these potato dumplings of love...did I forget to mention that they're also LOWFAT? That's right -- the only added fat in the whole dish was the 2 T. of olive oil I used in the sauce. How much do you love that? Every little bit helps, especially since I am now participating in a family version of The Biggest Loser - VB-style. More on that later...