Month: June 2009

Cooking Films

If you are a foodie, you know that on August 7th a movie that is based off of Julia Child’s early career is coming out titled "Julie & Julia". If you didn’t know that, now you do! Julia Child is such an inspirational chef because of her passion for food. A funny story is that my grandfather used to watch Julia cook on TV and everytime she would take a drink, so would he! If you want to know more about this movie check out the following sites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julie_and_Julia

http://www.julieandjulia.com/

While I was reading into the movie a little bit more today I was trying to think of some other favorite shows/movies that revolved around cooking. Here are 3 that I think you won’t be dissapointed in if you haven’t checked them out already:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitchen_Confidential_(TV_series) (AWESOME TV SHOW!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Reservations_(film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratatouille_(film)

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Top Chef Masters Episode 2 – June 17, 2009

Week 2 Masters
Suzanne Tracht- Jar,
Los Angeles, CA

Graham Elliot Bowles GrahamElliotRestaurant, Chicago, IL

Wylie Dufresne- wd~50, New York, NY

Elizabeth Falkner- Orson, San Francisco, CA

 

Quickfire
Create an amuse-bouche with ingrediants from a vending machine

Critics- This quickfire was originated in Top Chef Season 2, the judges are season 2 contestants Iian, Betty & Michael.


suzanne- fried shallot rings with microgreen salad & dr pepper aioli. judges liked everything about it. 5*

wylie-  red onion & grilled cheese sandwich w/ dr. pepper reduction sauce. judges liked presentation but didn’t like the taste and was too much, not really an amuse bushe 3*

elizabeth- braised beef jerky with orange juice, lemon & horseradish ice cream. judges didn’t seem very enthused about the dish. 3.5*

graham- tuna salad with pickled shallot, ginger, orange bubbles & beef jerky miso powder. judges gave alot of praise. 4.5*

 

Elimination Challenge
Cook dinner for creaters & writers of ABC’s LOST with all island ingredients and no pantry. Can only shop for fresh & preserved ingredients on a specific list.

Critics- jay rayner, james oseland, gael greene, damon lindelof,  carlton cuse & writers from Lost.

 

suzanne- risotto with uni and clams & prawns, wild boar strip with oyster beer sauce, mango corn salad. alot going on in one dish but seemed to work well together. 22.5* total (Week 2 Winner)

wylie- roasted chicken with poached egg, beets with dried corn, plantain puree. critics liked how he continued to cook like himself. 20* total

elizabeth-ancho-beer braised boar loin, coffee scented poached boar loin, yam papaya pudding. the yam papaya didn’t go over well but the boar was praised. 16.5* total

graham- maaki roll with tuna & dehydrated pineapple, tuna nicoise, tuna a la plancha. seemed perfectly executed, tuna was commented as most perfect braised tuna. 20.5* total

My Thoughts
I didn’t enjoy this weeks episode as much as the premier. I thought that while last week didn’t have the normal Top Chef "drama" it was still exciting, this week seemed to drag a little bit and could’ve used the drama. I thought Graham was going to win the episode but Suzanne came out the winner, which proved that sometimes the editors of the show leave out important emotional moments. I am hoping that next week will pick up a little bit more, or at least make it feel like a competition.

Top Chef Masters Episode 1 – June 10, 2009

I have to start by saying that the biggest benefit of this show is NO PADMA! The new host of Top Chef Masters is Kelly Choi. The biggest downfall of the show is NO TOM! Chef Tom Colicchio is probably one of the best Chef’s I have watched on TV and is a big reason why I tune into Top Chef. However, I am a fan of Top Chef Masters after watching the first episode. While I am not a fan of the Food Networks "Chopped", TCM is a mix of Chopped & Top Chef. Each week we will see 4 "master" chefs (like chopped) competing for one of the 6 spots in the final four episodes but we will still see Top Chef favorites like the Quick Fire & Elimination Challenge. For the Quick Fire each week they will take some of the past Top Chef QF favorites and let the masters battle it out but it doesn’t give any immunity or any additional help the quick fire is only there to give you a more stars in the end. For voting, each round is consisted of a "star" system. For the Quick Fire you get a score out of 5 stars. For the elimination challenge its the same thing but you have 4 groups (the customers and 3 judges) of 5 stars for a total of 20 stars in the challenge and 25 stars total in the episode.

This week’s "masters" are:
Michael Schlow – Radius Restaurant, Boston, MA
Tim Love – The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, TX
Christopher Lee – Aureole, New York, NY
Hubert Keller – Fleur de Lys, San Francisco, CA

Quick Fire – In the inaugural quickfire the masters must create a dessert (which has always been a fear of most Top Chef’s) for the judges who happen to be a group of junior girls scouts. A slight curve for the masters is that they only have 60 minutes for the quickfire, normally Top Chefs have 90 minutes.
Michael- milk chocolate cake, peanut butter chocolate candies, and honey almond cream – (2.5*)
Tim- strawberries three ways (chocolate dipped, chicken fried, and milkshake) – (3.5*)
Christopher- french toast with carmalized banana on a stick with maple syrup fluff- (3.5*)
Hubert-  swan & mouse in variations of mousse and creame with chocolate  – (winner – 5 *)

Elimination Challenge- The masters must cook a 3 course meal in a dorm room with only a microwave, toaster over, and a hot plate. lol, yea they are gonna have fun with this one…The critics (not judges) for this episode/season are: Gael Greene, James Oseland, & Jay Rayner. What did the masters make:

Michael Schlow- Soup of Cabbage, Smoked Bacon, Fennel and White Beans, Pork “A la Apicius,” Broccolini and Mushrooms
Tim Love- Squash and Corn “Pounceole”, Skirt Steak and Braised Kale
Christopher Lee- Creamy Risotto, Proscuitto Di Parma, Sage, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pan Roasted Pork Chop, Piperade, Crushed Red Bliss Potatoes, Mache and Fennel Salad
Hubert Keller- Creamy Mac n’ Cheese with prawns, mushroom & fresh herbs, Cold Scottish Salmon, & Hardy Carrot and Petit Pea Soup with Cinnamon Croutons

In the elimination challege it was funny because Hubert used alot of creativity I thought in making his pasta for the mac n’ cheese, boiled the water and cooked the noodles on the hot plate then rinsed them off in the dorm shower along with re-steaming them. Tim had a little bit of a problem before he even started cooking because instead of all of his groceries going in the fridge the night before they accidentally went in the freezer so everything he had was frozen the next morning before the challenge.

Here is the overall rankings for the day with the winner of the episode moving to the final 6:
Michael Schlow – eliminated in episode 1 with 13½ stars
Tim Love –  eliminated in episode 1 with 14½ stars
Christopher Lee –  eliminated in episode 1 with 19 stars
Hubert Keller – Won episode 1 with 20½ stars, moves on to final 6

I think Hubert was hands down the winner early on in the episode just because you could tell the difference between each persons meal and the way it came across on tv. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the season because this show is different for the normal Top Chef, almost a toned down version and straight to the cooking.

Dinner Impossible Season 6 Season Finale Recap – June 10, 2009

Episode 6 – Barbie’s Birthday Breakdown
WOW! What a season finale! This was the most detailed mission Chef Robert has ever been given. It’s Barbie’s 50th birthday and Chef Robert has to make hors d’oeuvres for 250
VIP‘s and each hors d’oeuvres MUST FIT on a Barbie sized serving tray. Really?!? The hors d’oeuvres must also fit with different theme of Barbie (Birthday, Wedding, Malibu, etc). This episode also marked a first (that I can remember at least), Chef Robert can be given a swerve during the cooking process from time to time when the challengers add a dish. Well Barbie wanted Chef Robert to make a "manly" dish for Ken, and like I said for the first time that I can remember, Chef Robert turned the extra challenge down because I believe this week was one of the most stressful challenges Chef Robert and his crew has ever faced. I honestly do not understand why a lot of these missions have kitchens that are put together outside? Every time a kitchen is outside there is a problem, this week was no different because the fridge wasn’t cool enough and the fryer went out most likely because of the wind then the pilot kept going out on the grill because of the wind too. In the end the guests arrived a half hour earlier than planned so Chef Robert and the crew had to get a small sample of the food plated before the time was even up. As always Chef Robert rose to the occasion and the dinner was possible. A few of my favorites this week were the tiny donuts and the croquet monsieur.

 

Menu
BBQ Barbie – Mini Chicken Sliders

Malibu Barbie – Seafood Salad

Holiday Barbie – Tiny Donuts

Mermaid Barbie – Tuna Tartare

Birthday Barbie – Mini Birthday Cakes

Rocker Barbie – Croque Monsieur

Wedding Barbie – Blini with Caviar

Pittsburgh Magazine’s Top 25 Best Restaurants

The 2009 list of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Top 25 Best Restaurants is now posted! I can honestly say that I haven’t been to many of these places, actually only 1 that I am sure of. I will just now have to include this list with my Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives list and keep on going. Take a look at the list, and let me know your thoughts on any of the places that you have been to.

http://www.wqed.org/mag/features/0609/best-restaurants-pittsburgh.php

Dinner Impossible Season 6 Recap – June 9, 2009

I know I haven’t posted any reviews in the past few weeks, hopefully that will change by the end of the week. In the meantime I am going to start something new in this blog. I have a few favorite food based tv shows but 2 of my favorites are Top Chef & Dinner Impossible. tomorrow night Dinner Impossible will end its 6th season and the first since Robert Irvine was brought back, then Top Chef will start its new program "Top Chef Masters". Look for an episode recap for both of these shows on Thursday. Until then, I am going to highlight some of my favorite moments from this season of Dinner Impossible…

Episode 1 – X Food at the X Games
I remember watching the first season of DI and Robert Irvine having to cook at an Ice Castle and hating every moment of the show because he did not like the cold weather. I can only imagine when the food network executives talked about what they were going to do with this season, the first thing that came to mind was to have Robert in the worst possible missions ever. This episode featured Chef Robert at the Winter X Games in Aspen and having to cook for 200 of its athletes in the cold. My favorite dishes in this episode were the Cheesy Soup and Swordfish.

Menu
Braised Bison Short Ribs with Asian Slaw
Butterfly Swordfish
Cheesy Soup
Extremely Potent Chocolate Espresso Drink
Fruity Tuna and Halibut
Geoduck and Mushroom Salad
Macadamia Nut and Yogurt Crusted Salmon
Rocky Mountain Oyster Stew
Salt-Crusted Tuna
Spicy Red Curry Chicken and Rice
Spicy Warm Pineapple Watermelon Salad
Sweet and Sour Ski Pole Pork
Vegetable Pasta

Episode 2 – Yahoo Search Scramble
Robert has 8 hours to cook an anniversary dinner for 450 people at Yahoo HQ. Chef Robert has to take the 15 most searched dishes on Yahoo and combine them with a random search of his own to find the food’s pairing. The Tuna Burger & Apple Sushi were my favorites in this episode.

Menu
 Pumpkin Lasagna
Salmon Cupcakes
Tuna Burger
Apple Sushi
Barbeque Carrots
Blackberry Aqua’s Fresca
Chicken Fried Rice
Egg Casserole
Eggplant Salad
Lamb Salsa
Lemon Egg Drop Soup
Peanut Butter Chili
Pineapple Cookies
Potato Pizza

Episode 3 – Casino Craziness
I have to say that I am surprised Chef Robert wasn’t more frustrated than normal during this episode. To play along with the casino theme, Chef Robert had to play blackjack for food ingredients and a game of roulette to find out how many people he had to cook for. In the end Robert had to cook for 1200 people without any sugar or salt! This episode proved why Chef Robert is the MAN! In the end Chef Robert always pulls the dinner off and leaves the guests wanting for more, I thought the apricot glazed lamb and chocolate bomb looked to be some of the best dishes.

Menu
Apricot Glazed Lamb
Baby Iceberg Salad
Beef and Bean Sprout Stir-Fry
Chocolate Bomb
Frisee Salad and Tomato Tartan
Frozen Souffle
Peking Duck
Salmon Tartare
Scallops and Rice Noodles
Shrimp Tempura
Stuffed Chicken (Mashed Potatoes)
Turkey -Pork Sliders

Episode 4 – NBA All-Star Stress
What a crazy episode this was! I thought Chef Robert was going to seriously snap at a culinary student! I liked this episode because the mix of sports & food, which are two of my favorite things. Chef Robert had to create 10 team themed dishes for 2,000 people and the majority of the people he had helping him were culinary students. The head chef from the NBA Cares & Cooks foundation was to make gumbo and was making it in the slow and steady process which is not the way they make food on DI. The part of the show I thought Chef Robert was going to snap on was when one of the culinary students talked back to him. Chef Robert made a comment to one of the students that he was too slow and that he was driving him crazy, the student responded by saying "the same could be said of you Chef", I thought Robert was gonna snap! Luckily for that kid (probably because of the TV cameras), Chef Robert tried to keep his cool while enforcing his power to get everyone to finish the meals. The creamy collard greens w/ bacon & cheesy grits were 2 of my favorites this week.

Menu
Cilantro Salad
Green Pork Chili
BBQ Tri Tips
Braised Tomatoes
Crab Risotto
Creamy Collard Greens and Bacon
Flambe Oranges and Cream
Fruit Fondue
Grits with Cheese
Gumbo
Lamb Ragout
Macaroni -Shrimp
New England Clam Chowder
Peach Glazed Ham
Roasted Chicken
Pot Roast and Carrots
Salmon Coulibiac
Sauteed Mushrooms
Shepherds Pie
Strawberry Shortcake
Tea Infused Fish and Chips
Trout Cakes with Lemon

Episode 5 – Crossword Puzzle Crisis
The Food Network Execs became a little ridiculous with this episode, not only did Chef Robert have to create dinner for 500 people but because it was for the American Crossword Puzzle Championship each meal had to be translated into clues for the dinner. My favorites this week were the Heart of Gold & Ribs.

Menu
Grilled Peaches and Cream
Heart of Gold
Cream of the Crop Vegetable Fricassee with Fried Toast Points
"On a Shoestring" Shoestring Potatoes with Honey Mustard Dressing
"Stick to your Ribs"
"Soup to Nuts" Coconut Soup with Caramelized Nuts
"The Proof is in the Pudding" Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream

Don’t forget tomorrow night, June 10th, is the season finale of Dinner Impossible. I have also heard that before the summer ends the next season of Dinner Impossible will start, I will post more on that when information is available. Please come back Thursday for detailed episode recaps of Dinner Impossible Season Finale and Top Chef Masters Season Premier.