Wednesday, January 15, 2014

If The Kitchen’s “Cookbook Club” Asked Me to Talk about SUNDAY BEST DISHES, I Wouldn’t Say No!

The KITCHEN is on Saturdays at 11am Eastern
Hello there, loyal readers. This blog is a review about a fun new show on the Food Network. Because I always liked The View (and The Chew!), the format of The KITCHEN is instantly appealing; it features five friends, who chow down and TALK FOOD—each episode (and so far there have been 2) is cleverly divided with Q&A from fans, a cooking demo that features a recipe with the top 3 most googled ingredients in the country, and an appearance of a cookbook author with a new book. Jenny McCoy, author of Desserts for Every Season was the first guest on The Show’s “Cookbook Club” segment; she made a warm chocolate bread pudding that I imagine co-host Jeff Mauro will try eating on a treadmill for next week’s opening credits!

On a good day I like to say I know foolproof food, and the way The KITCHEN is structured is certainly that: FOOLPROOF! I can’t tell you how interesting it is to know that 850,000 hungry souls googled, on the same day, what to do with the frozen lump of chicken in their fridge.

The KITCHEN’s panel, in addition to the hilarious Sandwich King (Jeff, whom I already mentioned), includes Sunny Anderson, Geoffery Zakarian, Katie Lee and Marcela Valladolid; these friends took the top 3 google hits for the week: quinoa, chicken and kale, and made them into a WONDERFUL entrée. I know because I made the dish right after watching the show. Sunny Anderson looked straight into camera and said that cooking, for her, was often about simply “emptying out the fridge!” and as though it were fate, I had some languishing items in my refrigerator (like a bag of frozen Brussels sprouts) that worked like a charm in The KITCHEN’S CHILE-RUBBED CHICKEN BREAST WITH KALE, QUINOA AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD. 

I didn’t follow Marcela’s recipe to the letter, but she did provide the base, and everyone in my family who loves chicken was pretty happy the night I added my own tweaks to what I can tell you is a truly solid dish. I liked how the panel, brimming with intimidating culinary talent, let all that go for the hour, and focused on teaching without preaching. On the kale/chicken recipe, Katie Lee asked if you could use feta in place of Marcela’s choice, cotija (a cheese I’m sure not everyone knows about), and everyone—including Marcela, was quick to advocate for substitutes anytime you want, and substitute I did. I didn’t have quinoa, so I used couscous; didn’t have toasted almonds so I used pine nuts—everyone loved it and I got rid of those darned Brussels Sprouts…and some feta!

The only thing I would have done differently is advise home chefs to really, really, wash that kale! I knew to do it because, well, what person in the food industry doesn’t have a PhD in kale by now? (we hear about it every single day!); however, for the layperson…you just might end up with some sand in your sauté if you’re not used to working with the stuff—and that’s what my latest book, Sunday Best Dishes: A Cookbook for Passionate Cooks is all about, educating home chefs in a way that’s fun and relatable. You don’t know you’re learning, you just know you’re cooking—I can’t wait to share that philosophy with everyone in The KITCHEN!

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