marc250209200You don’t know who Marc Veyrat is? He is a French celebrity chef – and yeah, the French know all about good food! – who is known for his forays into the countryside to gather wild herbs to incorporate into his excellent dishes. Late last month, news reports spread like wildfire that the celebrity chef is “quitting the kitchen.”

His restaurant, La Maison de Marc Veyrat (more popularly known as L’Auberge de l’Eridan) is closing down, much to the dismay of many. Unlike other chefs, who are closing down their shops because of the credit crunch, Veyrat cites health reasons for this closure. He is quoted as saying “I am stopping work in Annecy because physically, I have to, following a serious ski accident three years ago.”

The restaurant is located near Annecy and has earned 3 stars in the Michelin Guide. It was opened by Veyrat in 1992 and is best known for its traditional dishes infused with lots of wild herbs. Veyrat also introduced the concept of “molecular gastronomy.” This concept is basically the use of chemistry in coming up with unique recipes. That is, chemistry inspired the chef to put his own twist to various kinds of dishes, making them one of a kind.

Sad to say, that era seems to be coming to an end. Veyrat says that perhaps, the restaurant will make a comeback in the future but if it does, it will certainly be transformed. Still, the good news is that he says he might come back if he becomes fit again.

Happily married to her husband Jeffrey for 38 years, this divine steak with a bernaise sauce was from the “Wedding Anniversary” episode of the Barefoot Contessa. Accompanied by rosemary roasted potatoes and string beans with shallots, this simple but heart-warming meal was also winningly combined with shrimp with cocktail sauce as its starter.

Strangely enough, this menu could very well be my husband’s idea of “the perfect meal” – so thanks to Ina, I now have our next anniversary menu mapped out, but probably with the addition of mushrooms!

For the Sauce Bernaise:

1/4 cup Champagne or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good white wine
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 extra-large egg yolks*
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

6 (1-inch thick) rib eye steaks
Olive Oil
Coarsely ground black pepper

For the sauce, put the Champagne vinegar, white wine, shallots, 1 tablespoon tarragon leaves, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is reduced to a few tablespoons. Cool slightly.

Place the cooled mixture with the egg yolks and 1 teaspoon salt in the jar of a blender and blend for 30 seconds. With blender on, slowly pour the hot butter through the opening in the lid. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of tarragon leaves and blend only for a second. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon of white wine to thin. Keep at room temperature until serving.

Season the steaks liberally with salt and coarsely ground black pepper on both sides. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until it’s almost smoking, then sear the steaks on each side for 1 minute. Lower the heat to low and cook the steaks for about 7 to 10 minutes, turning once, until very rare in the middle. Remove to a plate, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve with the bernaise sauce on the side.

Note: To make the sauce in advance, prepare an hour before serving and allow it to sit in the blender. Before serving, add 1 tablespoon of the hottest tap water and blend for a few seconds.

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The White House kitchen, run by
Cris Comerford
, certainly created a holiday feast fit for a king (or president). Cris is the first female chef to hold the position. Here’s what was served at the buffet:

Artisanal and Local Cheeses served with Crackers, Winter Fruits and Spiced Nuts
Chilled Gulf Shrimp Cocktail served with Cocktail Sauce and Remoulade
Bourbon-Glazed Virginia Ham served with Cheesy Stone-Ground Grits
Crispy Chicken-Fried Steak Fingers with Creamed Pan Drippings
Roasted Lamb Chops with Rosemary Sea Salt with Mission Fig Chutney and Mint Jelly
Fruitwood Smoked Copper River Salmon served with Fresh Potato Pancakes and Traditional Garnitures
Maryland Crab Cakes with Lemon Caper Sauce
Orzo Salad with Roasted Artichokes, Tomatoes and Olives with Feta Cheese Vinaigrette
Homemade Tamales with Roasted Poblanos and Vidalia Onions with Black Beans and Tomatillo Sauce
White and Green Asparagus and French Green Bean Tier with Garlic Aioli
Barney and Miss Beazley Cookies (Chocolate-Dipped with Gold Collars)
Decorated Animal Cookies (Grizzly Bear, Elk, Fox, Wolf, Eagle, Mountain Lion,
Moose, Road Runner, Buffalo, Coyote, Deer)
Park Trees and Leaves Cookies (Gold Magnolia Leaf, Pine Cone, Acorn, Oak Leaf, Aspen Leaf, Elm Leaf)
Maple Cookies
Park Arrow Head Cookies
Long-Stemmed Fresh Strawberries
Orange-Spiced Infusion with Mixed Tropical Fruits and Berries
Chocolate Truffles with Forest Flavors (Honey, Maple, Huckleberry)
Chocolate Mice
Log Cabin Cake (Chocolate Dolly Sin Cake, Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)
Lemon Meringue Sequoia Cake Tree
Coconut Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting
Yule Log – Bûche de Noël
Brioche Bread Pudding
Walnut Pound Dundee Cake
Gingerbread Crown Cake
Mackintosh Apple and Sun-Dried Cherry Cobbler

Now, how exactly does one get invited to these things???

Ina Garten.jpg
There are so many celebrity chefs and so many TV programs on the air nowadays that it can be hard to choose which ones to tune in to. A family for our family is the Barefoot Contessa. She is such a wonderfully elegant yet appealingly normal person, rather like we’d all like to be. She’s the perfect host and yes, her recipes are delicious and easy to make. You can make great dishes simply by following along as she tells you what to do from the TV screen.

One of the most interesting things about Ina Garten is that growing up, she wasn’t even allowed to be in the kitchen. For those viewers who’ve never been in the kitchen before, take heart. Just look at where Ina Garten is now and you’ll be inspired too – she had a successful restaurant which she later sold to her employees and still has quite a successful online food business aside from her TV shows.

Ina Garten gives very clear, simple instructions. Just make sure to listen well since she has a rather soft voice. Try her Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers With Satay Dip. The recipe below is coutersy of the food network and is truly delicious!

3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
3/4 cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed
Satay Dip, recipe follows

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat a charcoal grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 10 minutes on each side, until just cooked through. Cool slightly and cut diagonally in 1/2-inch-thick slices. Skewer with wooden sticks and serve with Satay Dip.

Satay Dip:
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip for Grilled Lemon Chicken skewers.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Silvana Franco
Cooking is best practiced if it has been something that was experienced from the start especially during childhood. Such is the story of one of the glamorous personalities to grace TV cooking shows in the mold of Silvana Franco. Franco trained as a chef at High Peak College in Buxton and obtained a degree in Home Economy at South Bank University.

Silvana started out writing for BBC Worldwide in its Vegetarian Good Food Magazine. She made this her cup of tea until she was elevated to a senior writer. She soon graced the TV sets for such shows as Gourmet Express 2, Ready Steady to Cook and Two�s Saturday Kitchen. But despite her continuous rise to stardom, she never let go of her writing which include that of Can�t Cook, Won�t Cook, Ainsley�s Big Cook Out and Friends for Dinner.

She also runs a food media company called Fork, proof of her continued love and loyalty in the field of cooking.

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Chef Mary Berry started out as a broadcaster and is known to be one of the well-respected cookbook writers that the United Kingdom has produced. She is also known for her signature cakes which sold over 350,000 copies. Chef Berry typifies the role of a plain housewife who should know her way around the household, something that most of her avid viewers have followed in her shows over BBC.

Chef Mary Berry

Outside her evident signature trait of making extra ordinary cake recipes, she has also written over 40 cook books including The Aga Book. Her approach towards cooking is branded as family style emphasizing on healthy recipes that focus on fresh ingredients rather than cholesterol animal fats, something that most people of today are quite particular about. With her exposure on various TV shows, Chef Berry has gained headway and prestige, all through her continuous efforts through tri-media, including magazines that are bought worldwide.

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Taking his cue from the family business Chef Cesare Casella enrolled at the Culinary Institute Ferdinando at the age of fourteen. After graduation, he applied his knowledge to their family restaurant which eventually became a famous regional destination spot. After some time, all of Chef Casellas work had paid dividends, attracting various personalities who have acknowledged his fascinating dishes that have become a signature trademark for him.

Chef Cesare Casella

His rise to stardom started to accumulate by the year as he was eventually named the Executive Chef of Coco Pazzo that produced sister restaurants Il Toscanaccio. But seeing that he should also find security for his talent, he opened his own New York Restaurant in 2001, Beppe and in Maremma in 2005.

He has also written three books, Diary of a Tuscan Chef, Italian Cooking for Dummies and True Tuscan. He has also appeared in various food networks where he showcases his unique style of cooking that has been acknowledged worldwide.

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Celebrity chefs often gain fame from having a television show. The term celebrity chef is often seen as derogatory by those chefs who eaned their title through school and hard work. As we all know, it takes a lot of sweat and practice to be a professional chef, cooking for many people none of whom are related to you.

The show Iron Chef gives the celebrity chefs a chance to prove that they aren’t just for show. Iron chef show began in Japan and a spin off was later made called Iron Chef America. In both shows, there are preselected Iron Chefs. These chefs are masters at their craft. In the US, The Iron Chefs are Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto (who was also an Iron Chef in the show in Japan) and the first female Iron Chef, Cat Cora.

Every week a challenger comes forward. These are chefs with good reputations theselves in the cooking field. They choose which Iron Chef with whom to do battle and then they are given a secret ingredient which they must use in all their dishes.

It is a tough battle with only 30 minutes to make a full course meal. It challenges each chefs creativity and ability to the limit. It is also a great show because it shows that no true chef works in the kitchen alone. He has to have a great team – who themselves are great in their respective areas.

The question is: whose cuisine will reign supreme?

If you haven’t seen this episode from the Food 911 show, it shows Tyler Florence patiently showing an elderly lady from Orlando how to make his perfect lasagna. The main problem with hers was a drippy, sloppy quality (despite her homemade “gravy”), which Tyler of course remedied, creating a multi-layered perfection which stood firm yet juicy.
Be warned though, this is a lasagna that takes quite a bit of effort and time, but well worth it in the end.

1 pound dried lasagna noodles
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground Italian sausage
6 ounces tomato paste, (1 can)
30 ounces ricotta cheese, (2 containers)
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cups tomato sauce, prepared
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
Grated Parmesan and mozzarella, for topping

Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until pliable and barely tender, about 10 minutes. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Drain the noodles thoroughly, coat with olive oil keep them moist and easy to work with.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil. Saute over medium heat, onion, garlic and herbs. Cook 5 minutes. Brown beef and sausage until no longer pink, about 15 minutes. Drain fat into a small container and discard. Stir in the tomato paste completely. Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, parsley and oregano. Stir in beaten eggs. Add Parmesan, season with salt and pepper.

To assemble the lasagna: Coat the bottom of a 13 by 9-inch pan with a ladle full of tomato sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the sauce. Then, line each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle. This forms a collar that holds in the corners. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the pasta. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the meat, spread to the edges with a spatula. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Top with a ladle full of tomato sauce, spread evenly. Repeat with the next layer of noodles, meat, cheeses and sauce. Top last layer with noodles, sauce and shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Tap the pan to force out air bubbles. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Let lasagna rest for 30 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

I first started to take a proper interest in cooking about 12 years ago in 1994. I was out of school, out of a flat I shared with 3 girls (where dinner involved a baked potato or a takeaway), and on my own. Well, not really on my own, but with a new flat and a hungry boyfriend who liked to eat at home.

I started off with “doctoring” spag bol from a jar (Barilla of course), and one year later when we moved into a little house by Victoria station together, it was by pure chance that one of the books the landlady left in the kitchen was an old copy of the book you see above ” Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course” – which I promptly devoured.
Fast forward to 2006 – 5 kitchens, 2 continents and 2 kids (I married the hungry boyfriend) later. As a friend who stayed in my home rightly observed of the current state of my lifestyle ” …she’s in the kitchen all day!”.

Yes, I do spend a large part of the day pottering around the kitchen preparing something for someone in my family, but I love it. And what I can honestly say is that I owe a large part of my love for cooking to Delia and that cookbook.
I dont know if it was her non-nonsense approach, the way she taught in words that made it seem so easy, or the simple food that always tasted good – but she really did teach me the basics of cooking, and as I discovered, millions of other people in Britain as well.

She doesn’t have the panache of Nigella, the funky youth of Jamie, or the celeb-suave of Wolfgang, but what Delia does is actually get you to cook (and enjoy it too).