A Valentines Dinner would not be complete without dessert and for me, this dessert should be something chocolate. Call it traditional. Call it mushy. I don’t care. I have to have chocolate on Valentine’s Day! So here is my pick from Rachel Ray’s ideas for the day of love – Chocolate Fondue:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
Two 12-ounce bags semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dried apricots, for dipping
Gala apples, cored and sliced, for dipping
Pretzel rods, for dipping
Marshmallows, for dipping
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cocoa powder with 1/2 cup water and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the milk and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate chips and vanilla and cook, stirring, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
2. Serve the fondue warm with the apricots, apples, pretzel rods and marshmallows for dipping.
There’s nothing like good old chocolate fondue to top off a romantic evening. Imagine having a very satisfying meal together. How much more romantic can you get than this – a cozy conversation while dipping fruits and marshmallows into a sumptuous chocolate fondue? You can’t get any better than that, really. The rest of the evening is up to you. Happy Valentines everyone!
Note: If you do not like the fruits mentioned above, you can always find some other fruits that you prefer. Try bananas or strawberries.
As a chef, the choice of chef coats you make will play a major role in the presentation of your work, and to some extent its safety. Making the right choice in this department isn’t just about looking good, it also means you’ll provide yourself with all the comfort and utility you’ll need to work your miracles in the kitchen. Chef coats come in various shapes and sizes, but the basic idea is the same.
Chef coats, also known as chef jackets, are usually made of a thick material that provides good insulation (most commonly cotton) and are traditionally dyed white, which not only serves a practical purpose (makes stains easier to spot), but also maintains a clean, hygienic look if your chef jacket is always maintained in good condition. They’re usually double-breasted as well, and can be turned inside out to conceal a stain temporarily if the chef needs to make a presentation.
Chefs also need good chef aprons to perform their jobs well – like coats, chef aprons provide a combination of good looks and utility, though with the apron the accent is more on the utility part – a good chef apron would be easy to take off, and would usually feature pockets for holding utensils.
If you’re a woman, you should know that women’s chef jackets are slightly different than their male counterparts – a woman’s chef jacket is usually shaped slightly differently to accommodate for the different physique, and tend to come in slightly different color schemes as well.
Most people associate the profession of a chef with one traditional part of their uniforms – the chef’s hat. However, not many realize the importance of other aspects of a chef’s clothing. Chef coats have developed quite a lot in recent times, both in terms of looks as well as utility, and they’re currently an indispensable part of any respected chef’s equipment. Chef coats not only help identify the chef among their co-workers, but they also provide a variety of useful functions that help ease the job.
Does every person who works in a kitchen really need a good assortment of chef jackets in their wardrobe though? It all boils down to several factors. First, what type of cooking do you do precisely? If it involves a lot of boiling and generally working with hot materials, well-made chef jackets can provide you with the extra protection you’ll need to feel comfortable. Additionally, if you want to make a good presentation, wearing something respectable will always be of benefit.
It’s not just about the coat though – chef aprons are just as important as the coats worn by chefs, as they provide additional protection and utility, while also being a traditional part of a chef’s attire. Chef aprons are more commonly worn by non-professional chefs as they’re easily available and very convenient.
Women need to take care of themselves just as well in the kitchen – good women’s chef jackets are widely available just as men’s, and offer the same utility and comfort that help ease the job’s stress.
Children love christmas time. Maybe it’s because of the joy in the air or maybe it’s because of the gift giving. They definitely enjoy the decorating that is done for this holiday.
The gingerbread house is a fun christmas tradition. It allows you and your kids to work together to be creative. It also makes a great item for your christmas decorating. You might want to buy extra bits of the ingredients as some might get nibbled before you finish making your gingerbread house.
The gingerbread house starts with the form. Most use a cardboard house as a base. You can usually buy these in stores if you don’t want to make your own or try creating your own template, it is really easy. Of course you can always print out guides from online.
For the rest of the gingerbread house, try this recipe from Chef Bobby Flay. He introduced this recipe on his show, Food Nation.
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups dark molasses
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Frosting, either store-bought or homemade
- Brightly colored candies such as gumdrops, licorice, peppermint sticks, etc.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix 5 cups of flour, the ginger and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cream shortening and sugar in large bowl with mixer. Add molasses and lightly beaten eggs. Blend well. Gradually add dry ingredients. Knead in remaining flour, if necessary. Chill dough 1 hour for best rolling results.
Lightly grease cookie sheets. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick directly onto cookie sheets. Cut patterns, removing excess dough. Chill 10 minutes before baking. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes.
Let cookies cool.
Next, to assemble house, you will want to make a simple cardboard house to use as your base to help hold the house together. Begin applying cookies to the cardboard using your frosting as glue. Once cookies cover the entire house you can decorate with colorful candies such as gumdrops, peppermint sticks and licorice.
Everyone has his secret, and although many people would like to keep their secret just that – a secret – these things have a way of coming out into the open. Take this simple technique of cooking food in a bag.
Dubbed sous vide, the technique is basically that – putting food in a sealed pouch and dumping it in hot water (maintained at a precise temperature for a certain period of time). It has been around for so long, but not many chefs (celebrity or otherwise) like talking about it. I suppose the idea is too similar to instant food that health-conscious individuals abhor.
Cooking sous vide, however, is actually quite different. The result of using this technique is three-fold:
• Save time
• Save on costs
• Ensure consistency
What’s the advantage of using the technique? Basically, cooking food in sealed pouches at relatively low temperatures over time makes the fats and collagen in meat break down slowly. The juices and the flavors are also retained much better. You can just imagine how tasty the food will be – whether you’re talking about meats or vegetables!
To do this properly, you can buy a “real” sous vide “machine.” This includes the vacuum sealed pouch and a self-stirring bath. This will set you back several thousands of dollars, though. (Yeah it’s one other reason that not many people are using them.) On the other hand, you can set your own up by buying a vacuum sealed bag and making your own water bath. However, the results may not be the same as you have to monitor the water temperature more closely and make sure that the water is stirred constantly.
The next time you hear sous vide – do not be turned off. It just might yield the best meal you’ve ever had!
In some parts of the world, Fridays are considered to be a “meatless” day. That is, some people do not eat pork, beef, or any other animal flesh (except for fish and other seafood). I think this is because Friday is traditionally believed to be the day that Jesus Christ died. I could be wrong about the reason, but in any case, I am sure about this: Iron Chef Mario Batali has joined a cause. The Meatless Monday cause.
What’s it about? The initiative is being carried out by The Monday Campaigns, together with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The main goal is to cut back on the consumption of meat by 15% by not consuming meat on Mondays.
Now why would they want to do that? The answer is simple: eating less meat can be good for your health. Eating less meat also contributes to the efforts to save the planet.
The idea is noble, and the implementation quite simple – theoretically. For meat lovers, it might not be as easy.
Anyhow, famed celebrity chef Mario Batali, who is known for his love of meat, has decided to join the cause. It might seem ironic at first, since he has this awesome way with all sorts of meat. However, the chef himself justifies his commitment to Meatless Mondays:
“The fact is, most people in the U.S. eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet, Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal. But we can focus on a more plant-based diet. That’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement!”
So how’s the chef going to go about it? All of his restaurants – all 14 of them – will be serving at least two vegetarian options every Monday. Pretty cool, although it would have been more radical if he had decided not to serve meat at all on Mondays, right?
Are you up for some seafood this Christmas? Well here is something for you to try, straight out of British celebrity chef Delia Smith. She is a legend in her own right and this dish is quite simple but has enough kick to make you a star on Christmas Day. Recipe courtesy of The Telegraph.
• 1 pack of six savoury pastry cases (M&S)
• 2 x 100g packs hand-picked white Cornish crab (Seafood & Eat It, Waitrose)
• 1 x 110g pack hand-picked brown Cornish crab (Seafood & Eat It, Waitrose)
• 3 level tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
• 1½ tbsp dry sherry
• 1 tbsp lemon juice
• a pinch of ground mace
• a good grating of nutmeg
• 40g grated Parmesan
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
• salt to garnish
• 2 cartons of mustard and cress, or salad cress
You will need a small baking tray. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
All you do here is put the tart cases on to the baking tray, then place the white and brown crabmeats, the crème fraîche, sherry, lemon juice, mace, nutmeg and a little salt in a medium-size bowl. Mix it all together with a large fork, and taste to check the seasoning.
Now divide the crab mixture evenly among the pastry cases and even it out using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the Parmesan all over the crab and finish off with a dusting of cayenne.
Bake the tarts for 25 minutes until puffed and golden, and serve them from the oven with a mustard and cress garnish.
With Thanksgiving barely over and leftovers still smouldering in the fridge, theres no better time to start thinking and planning for the next big day ahead – Christmas!!
Ok, call me a bit of a sadist, but unlike Thanksgiving which really only involves a singular meal (maybe you were even lucky this year and played guest and not chef) , Christmas is so much more, especially so if you have a family with little children.
You know what I’m talking about – stockings, tree, decorations, outfits, parties, pantomimes and presents – to a list which seems to get longer every year! So yes, early preparations for this particular holiday does make good sense.
And since this blog is about chefs and therefore food, I’ll be posting about some of my favourite celeb chefs’ Christmas menus. Depending on your mood, gathering and needs this year, you can decide early on what tickles your fancy most. After all, Christmas is the season for celebration, joy, and splashing out indulgently – as Nigella so rightly reminds us in her Christmas Menu below.
“I think the mistake people make most when entertaining is to get too fancy with the food. No one is ever too sophisticated for the basic pleasures of home cooking, and there is something about those old favorites that makes everyone feel a little leap of joy in the heart………The whole point of a feast is that it is unnecessarily abundant”
Perfect Roast Potatoes
Petits Pois � la Fran�aise
Green Bean and Lemon Casserole
Standing Rib Roast
For recipes, start HERE.
Here’s the perfect gift or home decor for a celebrity chef fan — cartoons inspired by celebrity chefs. These prints would look really cute framed and hung in the kitchen or dining area.