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AHT Giveaway: Case of Pat LaFrieda Burgers

Cooking burgers for my writer/poet friends. I slathered the 80/20 patties in high quality burger and fried them in a caste iron skillet. I served the burgers with bacon, melted aged cheddar, tomato, lettuce, onion, and mayo.

Should Restaurants Allow Substitutions?

Having worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years, front and back of the house, I can attest that substitutions can be a pain and disrespectful to those preparing your food. This not to say that asking for lite dressing or dressing on the side isn't a valid or reasonable request (depending on where you are dining), but completely changing a dish to suit your preferences is a bit much.

When my family of four dines out (once a week) we do not substitute, we order whats on the menu in the way its described, after all, thats why we choose the restaurant in the first place. Also if your asking for several substitutions it decreases your chances of getting excellent service because of the legwork your server has to do to make it happen.

When I host dinners in my own home I choose not to invite those who are overtly picky eaters, vegetarians, or those who have food allergies, because accommodating them might offend those guests who do not have such issues when dining. For me its a matter of respecting those to took the time to design & prepare the menu.

Meet & Eat: Marissa Guggiana, Author, 'Primal Cuts'

I ate at Northern Spy Food Co. a couple weeks back. They were offering a special tasting menu (which we did not order) in lieu of recent publication of Primal Cuts. Its a beautiful book, and Northern Spy had signed copies for sale for just 25 bucks! I picked up a copy, a nice edition to my culinary shelf.

Win a Free Organic D'Artagnan Turkey

Roasted Sweet Potatoes! Cooking up a New Mexico style Thanksgiving in Central New York. Will for sure use this recipe. Oh, and will appreciate one of these royal birds if deemed the winner!

Serious Heat: 15 Ways to Use Hatch Chiles

I lived in Santa Fe about half my life, but moved to upstate NY (no good Mexican food within a 100 miles) about 4 years ago. There are a few websites that will send them to you roasted and frozen directly from NM. The 9 Northern Pueblos make best use of these plants. So, I prefer NM favorites like green chile stew, green chile chicken tamales (thanksgiving favorite), enchiladas (casserole style), or just a quick egg and cheese tortilla w/fine chopped chiles. Rellenos made w/Hatch Chiles are much more satisfying than using the Pablano or Anaheim strains. My favorite breakfast is huevos rancheros with green chile, up egg, beans, and a pueblo style flour tortilla.

Equipment: I Love My Squeeze Bottles

Most niche kitchen tools, made to look and function fancy, are a waste of money. So while a "diner bottle" might look simple, I doubt your going to find a better tool for dispensing simple syrup than a .99 squeeze bottle.

I have a squeeze of lemon basil mayo I did in the blender which is now patiently waiting to top some green tomatoes I am going to dredge and fry at some point (I make my own being that I can control what goes into the mayo rather than some factory). They are also great for storing balsamic reduction which comes in handy when making a caprese (a spoon just won't do), or need a drizzle for a piece of prepared meat (it beats flipping on the burner and filling the house with sinus clearing vapor).

Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 12, Gastro-nauts

I am surprised by all of the Tiffany fans. While I think she was a decent cook, I just didn't find her to be terribly intelligent, and a bit lacking in the creativity department. A likable personality should not play any role in how one's creative / artistic expression is criticized by other professionals (she will get the 10k for fan favorite, but saying she deserved to win because she was/is a bit folksy is a diservice to her and her skills). I figured she was going home when she was a bit jovial about her inexperience with wine pairing, which to me pairing experience is a must if your in the business of creating dining experiences alla Kelly.

While Angelo has an odd (and sometimes annoying personality) he made the best decisions in this episode, and the other competitors (who had been hating on him personally, not based on his skills) were a little upset that he won (except for Kevin who praised Jesus at the expense of Tiffany, thats how it was edited anyway). Its clear, Angelo prepares the most sophisticated dishes and that has certainly been true all season (this season reminds me of Hung's season, which he was hated all season and ended up winning).

Chefs to beat for me are still Angelo & Kelly. Ed's lack of creativity will catch up to him, and Kevin dislikes "Chinese food". Singapore as the final location plays to Angelo's strengths, Kevin will complain, and ultimately Kelly will win.

Weekend Giveaway: 'How to Cook Like a Top Chef'

Simpsons Challenge. Susar's Marge plate was terrific!

Recap: Top Chef DC, Episode 6

Kelly Liken seems to be the chef to beat at this point. She is clearly the most technically skilled. In the end cooking is about editing and decision making which Kelly has in spades (which did not shine through on Iron Chef America a couple months back).

As for Kenny, while I think he is a decent cook, his ideas are not terribly interesting (he tries to make his ideas a little more complicated than they are alla the Govind Armstrong ripoff lamb carpaccio from TCM S2). Anyone who, in interview, proclaims "alpha-male" presence is perhaps a bit disillusioned. I also snickered a bit when Bernstein told Kenny his dish clearly had issues abating any paranoia he had about the other contestants sabotaging him due his alpha-male presence and misguided self gloating. Its clear the judges are looking at the dailies being that Padma was keen enough to ask Kenny why he thought he was bottom tier this week.

If Angelo were not skilled, talented, nor innovative perhaps the rest of the contestants would no be so quick to judge his clear behavioral issues(which other contestants have except: Kevin, Tiffany, Kelly & Andrea). Angelo is a natural chef, which is obvious when you observe his decision making. "Oh no! Angelo is giving advice again!" Sharing ideas in a kitchen is practical and common practice, I don't see what the big deal is. A smart chef knows when to take advice and when not to. In the end its Tamesha's poor decisions and technical shortcomings that decided her fate.

Stephen, Amanda, and Alex are the next to get the boot (maybe not in that order). Followed by the dude that seems to think that the word "banging", as it pertains to intimate relations with a woman, is appropriate (between alpha-males talking about banging, and all the alcohol fueled rants, I am beginning to think most these chefs forgot being an culinary artist requires some dignity).

Cooking Channel, Anyone?

I watched a few episodes yesterday and overall I was impressed (even though the channel was low-res). My favorite: Chinese Food Made Easy, not only were the recipes easy to follow, but the host Ching-He Huang has wonderful presence. From makeshift kitchens in front of a market or at the horse track the show provided lots of information on chinese cooking methods and what pantry items to by, which in Chinese cooking can be daunting.

Weekend Giveaway: Vienna Beef Hot Dog Kit for Your Memorial Day Party

New Mexican Green Chile Sauce, Cilantro, and fresh chopped white onion.