The year is about to end and you’d like to say goodbye to 2006 with a bang, and something delicious and different on the table. Only question now is, what to cook? Don’t give yourself a headache, check out some of the recipes the chefs recommend for this special dinner.

Rachael Ray.jpgIf you’ve only got 30 minutes, then who better to ask than Rachael Ray who hosts 30 Minute Meals. Her Crab Salad Bites on Endive are easy to make and a delicious way to get started at your party.

bobbyflay.pngIf pasta is something you want on the table and stay in the seafood theme, why not try some of Bobby Flay’s Sea Bass with Potatoes and Tomatoes in Parchment with Angel Hair Pasta. This is absolutely delicious and healthy. Chef Flay also recommends the Arugula Salad with Lemon and Olive Oil to go with this dish.

Tyler Florence.jpgA fancy dinner doesn’t have to be hard to make. In fact Tyler Florence says you can make this Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Sauce Pinot Noir in just 20 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how quick and easy this recipe is and how wonderful it tastes.

Don’t forget to get some good champagne to welcome in the new year with. Put on your party hats, enjoy the food and the fireworks and sing Auld Lang Syne.

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Christmas is the season for giving and receiving and Wolfgang Puck has certainly received a very nice gift this Christmas. He and fiancee Gelila Assefa welcomed their second son last December 18, 2006. They have named the baby Alexander Wolfgang Puck. He weighed 7 pounds and 3 ounces at birth.

Puck and Assefa now have two children together, both of them boys. They named their older child Oliver, who was born in July, 2005.

The Austrian chef also has two other children from his previous marriage to Barbara Lazaroff, his business partner. Again both of the children were boys.

Wolfgang Puck must feel like he’s on top of the world. A new son, loving family and business is going great. The latest addition to his restaurants, Cut, is so popular it is hard to get reservations to eat there!

There really isn’t much more that he can ask for. Now that’s a truly a great way to end the year.

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Gordon Ramsey has taken time out from his busy schedule and prepared Christmas dinner for 800 British soldiers stationed at Helmand province, Afghanistan. This truly was hell’s kitchen and by far one of the toughest challenges that this famous restaurateur has ever had to face.
The event was organized by the Daily Mirror. In his interview, Chef Ramsey said,

“It was well worth it to see the look on the guys’ faces when they came into the dining tent. It was absolutely brilliant. I’m only sorry I couldn’t do this for more of the men and women from the armed forces who are out here.”

Truly it made for a great christmas meal. If you can’t have your mother’s turkey at least you get a fantastic turkey feast courtesy of a world famous chef. Not bad at all for a christmas present. It makes being away from home at least a bit more palatable, even if only for one night.

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Are you tired of having turkey for christmas dinner? You are not the only one. Traditions are great but every now and then it is nice to have a change. Turkey at thanksgiving is enough for some.

Instead of taking out the turkey, just add a few dishes as alternatives. You can try Rachel Ray’s Christmas Pasta for one. It is loaded with all sorts of meat, perfect for those who don’t want fowl or fish. You don’t even need to worry about any leftovers. This dish just tastes better with every reheat. Do note Rachael Ray’s reminder: cook only as much pasta as needed. That comes to about half a pound for every 3 people.

If you really want to keep the turkey off the table this year, how about some of Giada de Laurentiis’ Spicy chicken instead? It’s an easy dish to make that doesn’t take too much work to cook and it adds a little kick to your christmas meal.
Here are the recipes for these two dishes:

Rachael Ray’s Christmas Pasta

1/4 pound pancetta, thick cut, chopped into small bits (Italian cured pork, ask at deli counter)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 pound combined ground beef, pork and veal
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup good quality dry red wine
1 cup prepared beef stock, paper container or canned
2 (32-ounce) cans chunky style crushed tomatoes
Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon (a couple of pinches) allspice or cinnamon
Coarse salt and black pepper
2 pounds penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Grated Pecorino Romano, as an accompaniment
Fresh, crusty bread, for mopping

Heat a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and brown to render the fat. Transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. To the pan add the oil, and the meats and brown and crumble them for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and pancetta bits.Chop carrot, celery, and onions near the stove and add to the pot as you work. Cook vegetables with meat 5 minutes and add wine. Cook for 1 minute; add stock and tomatoes to the pot.

Stir in parsley, allspice, or cinnamon and season sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 to 15 minutes, minimum, before serving. Reheated sauce only improves.

Toss pasta (cook off only as much pasta as you need at the time: half a pound for every 3 people) with a couple of ladles of sauce to coat, then top bowl with extra sauce. Top pasta with lots of cheese and pass bread at the table

Giada de Laurentiis’ Spicy Chicken

4 chicken thighs with skin and bones
2 chicken breasts with skin and bones, halved crosswise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Chili Oil, recipe follows
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pitted, coarsely chopped green olives
4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
2/3 cup dry white wine

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the garlic, olives, 3 tablespoons of parsley and capers. Add the wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.Transfer the chicken mixture to a platter. Spoon the sauce over. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and serve.

Chili Oil:
2 cups olive oil
4 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakesCombine the oil and crushed red pepper flakes in a heavy small saucepan. Cook over low heat until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 180 degrees F, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Transfer the oil and pepper flakes to a 4-ounce bottle. Seal the lid. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours

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It is a funny sounding name for a drink. The first time I heard it I wondered if my uncle was pulling my leg rather like the way the would say eating tomatoes would make your chest hair grow.

Eggnog isn’t actually a drink created for a specific holiday. It is a winter drink meaning that it was concocted as a drink that helps warm up a person. In Europe they would call it a posset.

Of the many versions of how this drink got its name, the version that makes the most sense is the one that says eggnog is short for egg and grog in a noggin. Grog is another term for rum and noggin was a kind of mug used for drinks served at the tables in a tavern.

Reference to this drink first appears in the 17th century. It was apparently meant as a drink with which to toast one’s health.

No matter what the real story of the eggnog, you will want to try this recipe from Emeril Lagasse. Don’t forget to say Bam!

Emeril’s Eggnog

Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs, 2 separated
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup brandy

Directions:

Combine the 6 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together. Heat 2 cups heavy cream with the milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When the cream and milk are hot, ladle about 1 cup into the egg mixture and whisk to incorporate. Pour the egg-milk mixture into the hot cream mixture, and continue to cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and strain the custard immediately through a fine-mesh sieve. Allow the custard to cool for 10 minutes before proceeding.

Add the vanilla, nutmeg, bourbon, and brandy to the eggnog and stir well to incorporate. Beat the 2 egg whites to soft peaks in a clean mixing bowl and fold them into the custard base. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks, and fold it into the eggnog as well. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Pour into a decorative bowl or pitcher and garnish with nutmeg. Serve in small punch cups or old-fashioned glasses.

The recipe is from Emeril Live: Christmas Holiday Party Episode.

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Rachael Ray has surely come a long way. She’s gone from teaching how to cook in the supermarket to making 30 minute meals on TV to having her own full one hour show. Not bad for a girl who simply loves food.

How did she do it? She just did what she’s always done, talked and cooked. Her personality, energy and boundless curiosity, though was what caught the eye of the Queen of Talk herself, Oprah Winfrey, whose production company, Harpo is behind Rachael Ray’s show. Oprah was even a guest on the show, but not on the first day.

As Rachael Ray puts it, it’s nice to actually have an audience instead of just talking to the camera and crew. The audience seems to really enjoy her show, especially with all the food that she serves. For those who can’t be in the studio, she at least has a great website. She even has her grocery list available so that you can go out and buy everything you need to cook along with her.

The show is about more than just cooking. She talks about various things such as weddings, fashion, shoes, etc. On the first day of her show, she and a fan went skydiving together, which was of course filmed before the show.

Make sure to catch the show. It is fun and light, part talk show, part cooking show. Definitely it is all Rachael Ray.

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For most families, a traditional christmas dinner means having turkey even if it isn’t on the list of the twelve days of christmas. Turkey just seems to evoke that feeling of feasting and family that makes the meal more special. For some no substitute will do, which is why turkey stays high on the list of featured recipes during the season.
In fact last year, Gordon Ramsey chose 6 turkeys for the christmas special of his show, the F Word, last year. He had named them after six celebrity chefs specifically Delia Ramsey, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes, Anthony Worral and Ainsley Harriot. If you are interested to try Gordon Ramsey’s Roast Turkey and Stuffing in a Pan, just click here for the recipe.
If you avoid cooking turkey because it often comes out unevenly cooked, try the advice of Jaime Oliver. Push some stuffing between the breasts and skin of the turkey. This makes the breasts thicker which is will help keep it from drying out. This way the legs and the breast cook at the same pace.

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Next in line for Christmas menus to consider is Mario Batali’s, the Food Network’s, larger than life American-Italian chef. I must say though, that this menu is not typical-Mario, whose recipes I’ve found not to be the simplest to do in your average home kitchen.

This Christmas menu is actually pretty easy to pull off, in both availability of ingredients and procedure, unlike his Christmas Eve menu, the Seven Fish (also found in his cookbook Holiday Food, pictured above), which is what I would call, classic Mario – delicious, but not exactly easy peasy.
This menu has all the ingredients for a superb holiday. The dishes indulge and comfort, and they incorporate a little bit of tradition and a lot of play. Best of all, none of these dishes is particularly complicated.

I love to cook for my family at the holidays; it’s a special way of showing love and affection. But there’s no point if all that cooking actually takes away from time spent with loved ones.

That’s why this menu is ideal. Certain components can be prepared ahead of time, and even the final preparations won’t leave you feeling as though you’ve spent the day handcuffed to the stove. It’s a celebratory dinner everyone, even the cook, will have energy and desire to enjoy.

Mario Batali

Mario’s Italian Christmas Dinner

Vongole Origanate
Clams with Oregano and Bread Crumbs

Crostini Napoletani
Fresh Ricotta, Anchovy, and Oregano Toasts

Broccoli Soffriti
Braised Broccoli

Tacchino Ripieno
Turkey Stuffed with Chestnuts and Prunes

Linguine alle Noci
Linguine with Walnut Sauce

Affogato al Caffe
Coffee Semifreddo “Drowned” in Coffee

For recipes, click HERE.

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For those of us who love reality TV shows or cooking shows in general, the name Gordon Ramsey is well known. The title of his reality TV show Hell’s Kitchen really catches people’s attention and his temper has left a few people gaping in amazement. Yet, people keep watching this amazing man and so his shows are still on air, in fact you may have caught his other shows The F Word and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.

At 15 years of age, Gordon Ramsey was playing professional soccer for the Glasgow Rangers until he sustained a leg injury. He gave up professional soccer and went back to college, completing an HND course in hotel management.

He first began working in the kitchens in Harvey’s in Wandsworth, with Marco Pierre White who is Michelin-starred chef. A couple of years later he moved to the Le Gavroche and worked alongside Albert Roux. Three years later he traded London for France and worked in the kitchens of Guy Savoy and Joel Robuchon. In 1993 Gordon Ramsey became chef of the newly opened Aubergine restaurant. It earned many awards and accolades including two Michelin stars within three years.

Gordon Ramsey also became an author. His book Passion for Flavour was published in 1996. It was followed by Passion for Seafood in 1999. His third book, A Chef for All Seasons was published a year later followed by Just Desserts in 2001. Let’s not forget Gordon Ramsey’s Secrets which was published in 2003 and there are still more books.

However, that isn’t all he is. He is also a restaurateur. His company currently owns and operates nine establishments, one of them in Tokyo and another in Dubai. He opened his very first restaurant wholly owned restaurant, Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital Road in 1998. It has been ranked 3 Michelin Stars since 2001.

Gordon Ramsey is a fiery tempered man and a perfectionist. He is also a world renowned chef, a man with a great business acumen, a published author, TV personality and restaurateur.

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Anyone who watches the food network knows Bobby Flay. He currently has four shows on the network: Hot off the Grill with Bobby Flay, FoodNation with Bobby Flay, the emmy award nominated Boy Meets Grill and the newest BBQ with Bobby Flay. But being a TV personality and cooking on TV isn’t all that Bobby Flay is.

Bobby Flay started cooking at age 17 when he worked in New York’s Joe Allen Restaurant. He so impressed the management that Joe Allen personally paid his tuition to the French Culinary Institute. In spie of the exposure though, Bobby Flay didn’t go into French cuisine. He found his passion in American southwestern cuisine instead.

He experimented with various dishes in his chosen theme from 1988 to 1990 at the Miracle Grill where he was the executive chef, gathering quite a following. He finally opened the doors of his first restaurant in 1991 – the Mesa Grill. The Mesa Grill was chosen as the best restaurant in 1992 by Gael Green. Now, Bobby Flay has three more restaurants. Bolo, which opened in November 1993, serves dishes that have the unique Spanish flavor combined with American ingredients. The second mesa Grill opened its doors in Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas in 2004 and he later opened Bar Americain in New York in the spring of 2005.

In May 1993, Bobby was voted the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year. This award is given to America’s most accomplished chef under the age of 30. That same year the French Culinary Institute honored him with the first Most Oustanding Graduate award.

Bobby Flay is constantly trying to enhance his skills. He competed in Iron Chef Japan against Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto in 2000 which he lost. That didn’t stop him though. He went back for a rematch and won. Bobby Flay is now one of the Iron Chefs in the show Iron Chef America.

Busy man though he is, he has also found the time to write 6 books. His first book, Bold American Food, won the 1995 IACP award for design and has set the style for the next generation of cookbooks. His other books are From My Kitchen to Your Table, Boy Meets Grill, Bobby Flay Cooks American, Boy Gets Grill and Bobby Flay’s Grilling for Life.

Iron chef, super chef, restaurateur, author and TV personality, Bobby Flay is fantastic.