Opinions on food, drink and articles/TV shows involving them

Archive for the ‘TV Show’ Category

Chicken (in the pressure cooker!)

Warning: After reading this post, you may feel the need to go out and buy an Instant Pot. Do not be alarmed. It really is an awesome gadget that I’ve been using a lot lately, as you can probably tell by my Mac & Cheese post. I should probably mention that I’m definitely not being given money or anything else to rave about the Instant Pot, all of this enthusiasm is completely genuine!

This time, I decided to make chicken using the Instant Pot. The problem I have with meat is that most of it is in the freezer. In order to make it, I have to defrost it for a couple  days and then be prepared to make it at that time. I often cook on whims and make whatever I am craving on that particular day. I don’t often plan out every meal and am not prepared enough to make sure I cook the meat I take out of the freezer before it goes bad.

I should also mention that my husband and I eat mostly vegetarian food at home, so having meat is a special treat. Keeping those things in mind, I didn’t have chicken defrosted the day I made this chicken. I began to search for pressure cooker chicken breast recipes that allow for frozen meat. I rejoiced when I found some! More on the meat later…

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The Instant Pot has a sauté function, which takes a couple minutes to warm up and stays on for 30 minutes, unless you switch to another setting. I sautéed some chopped red onions and mushrooms with salt, pepper, and Emeril’s Essence until they were softened. You can find the Emeril’s Essence recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/emerils-essence-recipe.html. Personally, I’m not a fan of Emeril’s television personality, but this stuff is really good!

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Here’s a picture of the Instant Pot with the sauté function on. After the onions and mushrooms were softened, I added some water and the frozen chicken breasts, which I seasoned on both sides with salt, pepper, and more Emeril’s Essence. I cooked the  chicken using the poultry option, which cooks for 15 minutes. After releasing the steam and checking the meat, it was still pink, so I did another full cycle of the poultry function.

I could have probably used a little less time, but the meat was still very tender! I was surprised that the mushrooms were quite tasty and were not too chewy, as is often my experience when I put them in vegetable soups.

After the chicken was done, I cut it into cubes and put it in a bowl covered with aluminum foil. The foil kept it warm while I was cooking other things. I kept the juice from the meat in the Instant Pot and used it to make a gravy. I switched back to the sauté function and added white wine, heavy cream, corn starch, and a little salt and pepper to the meat drippings. I whisked the mixture until it thickened and served it with the chicken.

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I give it 5 stars easily (my rating system does not allow for more). I served the dish over rice and it was delectable! My serving spoon says, “Save room for seconds” and I definitely did have seconds of this meal!

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Baking with Chef Duff

When I first started watching the show “Ace of Cakes” several years ago, I was amazed and intrigued by what they did with cake. If you can dream it, Charm City Cakes can make it, which is really neat. The bakery is entirely custom-made cakes, so you can’t just walk in and order, say, a cupcake. Duff, however, says that he does not like cupcakes because he says people who make cupcakes think they can actually bake…that sounds a little harsh to me and I’m a big fan of the show.

Duff’s hatred for cupcakes has been going on for quite a while. In my opinion, I think that his dislike for them stemmed from his attempt at setting a Guinness World Record. He made the “World’s Largest Cupcake” and got the award, but it was later taken away because he made his cupcake in two parts. I guess the record-holder made one solid piece of cake. Winning a World Record, then having it taken away is enough to make anyone angry. I’ll get back to the subject of cupcakes in just a moment.

At any rate, I still love Duff Goldman and enjoy watching his show. His cakes, however, are very pricey. The most recent web prices report a minimum of $7 per person for a wedding cake (average is $15 per person) and if you actually calculate a serving size based on a box cake, it’s certainly not as big as a dessert you might purchase in a restaurant. The 3D and sculptural cakes start at $1000, a little too steep for mine as well as most people’s budgets.

A few month back I realized that Michael’s stores sell “Chef Duff” cake mixes, fondant, icing, and a wide array of other cake decorating materials. I was so happy to see this and purchased the white cake mix, white frosting, and white fondant. I also purchased a giant cupcake mold (not from the “Chef Duff” but from another company) and it was then that my idea to make my own “Ace of Cakes” cupcake came to life. Of course, there’s no way a cake from a box will be as delicious as one from “Charm City Cakes,” but it’ll have to do for now.

Like Duff, I made my cupcake in two parts, because of the pan I was using. I decided to make a giant cupcake with frosting filling inside using the special insert that came with the pan. Then, I put frosting on the top of the outside as well. Next, I covered that frosting with the fondant and then created multi-colored fondant “sprinkles” to go all over the top.

Here’s a photo of the giant cupcake pan. It includes an insert to create a dip in the middle of the cake, so that you can put frosting in the middle if you want. I did just that!


Let’s rate the individual parts, then I’ll sum them up as a whole:
Cake batter: I was surprised to see that the only ingredients that had to be added to the mix were oil and water (no eggs were necessary as with other boxed mixes); definitely better than your average store-bought mix; very tasty and I found myself wanting more; 4.5 stars


Baked cake: more buttery than a “regular” boxed mix; more dense than boxed cake also,but still very moist; seems to be good for carving; 4.5 stars


Buttercream icing:
great flavor; the frosting also stays together better than store-bought icing; it was a little hard right out of the package, but after mixing it a little with an electric mixer, it was just as good as home-made! 4.5 stars
Buttercream fondant: this one was a little tricky to rate since I have only had fondant on one other occasion; however, it was this year, so at least I remember the taste; nice and soft; flavor is alright, but not as good as the other one I tried before; 2.5 stars for taste; 4.5 stars for workability


The fondant claims to cover twice as much area as other fondants and I can see how that would be the case. It seems to be very pliable and doesn’t tear easily. It has a very gummy consistency without being sticky. Though the fondant did not taste the greatest, it did an excellent job of covering up the cake. What’s your take on eating the fondant with the cake? I think some people do and some don’t.

Baked cake + frosting: yum yum yum! Good combination. I couldn’t get enough as I carved off a little of the top piece before putting it on; 4.5 stars

Cake + frosting + fondant: The frosting helps make up for the fondant; though I wouldn’t want a lot of the fondant and am glad that I didn’t cover the bottom part with it, it was very tasty when you put everything together! 4.25 stars!


I did have a little trouble with the  bottom of the fondant portion as it didn’t smooth out as well as I would have liked. However, that’s probably simply my lack of experience with fondant. Overall, I was very pleased with the way it turned out!


Baking this “Ace of Cakes” cake has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while, so I was really happy when it all came together. A big thank you to E.S. for lending me fondant rolling supplies!

Contemplations of Food Television Personalities

As a lover of food, I also enjoy watching other people make food on TV. In this post, I’ll review shows I like/dislike as well as provide some random thoughts about food TV personalities. Unfortunately, I won’t have any photos in this one as I have not actually met any of these chefs and would prefer to use my own photos on my blog.

Shows I love (in no particular order):

  • Ace of Cakes – Anyone who puts fireworks, speakers, or other mechanical objects on a cake is pretty awesome in my book. I love that Duff will make anything you can dream up. His cakes are very pricey (they start at $1000), so maybe one day I’ll be able to afford one. In the meantime, Michael’s craft store sells Duff’s cake mix, frosting, fondant, and other cake materials, so perhaps I’ll make my own Charm City Cake!
  • Top Chef – I like that this show is quite unbiased and is not trying to keep people for ratings. If someone gets cut, they get cut. I’m glad that Bravo has such an awesome show in its lineup. Also, most of my friends would disagree, but I’m on team Angelo. He’s cute, seems like a really nice person, and I don’t think he’s trying to sabotage others like many of my friends think he is. I think he can go all the way!!
  • Chopped – I think this might be one of the hardest shows to compete on. Actually, it might be a tie between “Iron Chef” and Chopped, but Chopped takes the cake for weird combination of ingredients. I imagine it being really difficult to whip up something made out of ingredients that were never meant to go together or maybe have never been served together in a dish.
  • Food Network Challenge – I like to see the chefs battle it out using different mediums. I especially like the sugar-themed ones because they’re so shiny and sleek. The show ideas are great, such as Disney, chocolate, and holiday-based battles. I think the best part about the show is watching the contestants move their show pieces to the judges table, watching intently and hoping pieces don’t fall off or their creation doesn’t completely fall apart.

Other food personalities I enjoy:

  • Wolfgang Puck – I love his accent and personality, have eaten at one of his restaurants, and have purchased his commercial brand of soups…yum! I think they still play episodes of his show on “Fine Living Network,” which is awesome!
  • Morimoto – The only Iron Chef to be featured on both the original show and the American version. Morimoto used to have a restaurant in Tyson’s Corner, VA and I was devastated when it closed. Side note: They also play episodes of the original Iron Chef on Fine Living Network.
  • Alton Brown – I’m not sure that I can mention him enough! I love the guy! Anyone who can combine food and science is pretty awesome in my book. He combines quality food with the science of why things work the way they do in the culinary world. “Good Eats” is also one of my favorite shows EVER!! Too bad Alton is too old and too married for me!

There are, however, people on television who annoy me. While I can respect most of them, I can’t help but dislike their television personalities:

  • Emeril – while I respect his cooking, I can’t stand to hear him say things like “Bam” and “Let’s kick it up a notch.” As a side note, I have tried his commercial brand of pasta sauce and it’s pretty good, and not much more expensive than other grocery pasta sauces.
  • Rachel Ray – what can I say, her voice really annoys me. I cringe when I hear her on television and dive for the remote to change the channel. And, EVOO? Is that really necessary? There was a period of time where I enjoyed her show, but I think that time is going to stay in the past.
  • The Neely’s – I don’t think couples are that cutsie in real life. They seems to be too flirty to be real and I can’t help but imagine that fights break out when the cameraman says, “cut!” I think I’d like to compare an episode of “Down Home with the Neely’s” and an episode of “Paula’s Home Cooking,” while making tick marks each time one of the hosts says “y’all.” I would compare them and see who says the word more. It’s a good idea and would amuse me endlessly.

Who are your most and least favorite food show personalities?