Tag Archives: cookbook

Guy Fieri, vegetable fan? Sure, says Food Network star

Of all the celebrity chefs out there, there’s one you’d least expect to sing the praises of spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts. That would be Guy Fieri.

The spiky-haired champion of American comfort food is more associated with greasy chili dogs than salad — the fryer over the fig. But are you sure you know all the sides of this guy?

“I’m a big greens fan. I’m a big vegetable fan. I’m a big whole grains fan. And I exercise a lot. That’s how I keep this petit dancer’s figure,” he said, laughing. “A lot of people misinterpret what I do.”

Fieri has built a food career on a certain amount of flash — a rock star image complete with tattoos and jewelry, a fleet of yellow muscle cars and high-octane dishes including Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burgers.

But he’s also raised a family in the same Northern California house for the last 20 years, eats a burger maybe once a month, considers culinary innovator Jose Andres a hero, and says things like “I cannot get enough farro.”

Both sides are on display in his latest cookbook, Guy Fieri Family Food, with recipes that range from Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza to Quick Cracked Bulgur Wheat Salad. It’s what his family eats, with tips on how to stretch leftovers into several meals.

“It kind of moves all over the board,” said Fieri, who started with 200 recipes and whittled down to 125. “It was a full-blown family project with everyone involved and picking what they liked and didn’t like.”

Finding his role in the food world

Fieri broke into the mainstream after winning The Next Food Network Star. He went on to put his name on more than 30 restaurants across America and Mexico.

His best-known Food Network show is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, which celebrates small eateries that make dishes from scratch.

“I pick the restaurants and I pick the menu and I try to pick what they do best and what is creative and exciting for people to see. But the last thing I really want to do is the 10-pound chili cheese fry overload,” he said.

The show has created what’s called the Fieri Effect, a boost in restaurant revenues after he shows up. “I feel like the guy that gets to bring the Publisher’s Clearing House check to the door, you know?” he says. “It changes their lives. It’s not just giving them money. It’s giving them recognition.”

But as much as Fieri is cheered by fans for his down-home approach to unfussy fare, he’s also dismissed by foody elites who find his manner brash and culinary skills lacking. The New York Times in 2012 had a scathing takedown of Fieri’s Times Square restaurant, asking: “Is the entire restaurant a very expensive piece of conceptual art?”

“I have to take the high road,” responds Fieri. “Everybody has their role in the food world and what they choose to appreciate. I’m not a fine dining chef. I appreciate it. I think Thomas Keller is amazing,” he says. “But I really like where I’m at, I like what I do. I like how it makes people feel.”

Fellow Food Network chef Alton Brown sees professional jealousy as the fuel of the anti-Fieri fire: “There are people who have plied their trade for a long time in the culinary world that might see a guy that won a food competition show and, all of a sudden, is a superstar. They resent that. They want to guard the turf and the purity of the turf.”

Taking liberties

Fieri is not exactly hunting for the next food trend. “I try to keep my eyes and ears open. I don’t feel that I have to be the first one to the dance,” he said.

He embraces a laid-back, communal approach to cooking and also encourages cooks to take liberty with his recipes, saying, “There’s not one way to play the song.”

Fieri has expanded his repertoire to include gluten-free options and organic foods, especially after the death of his younger sister.

Morgan Fieri died of skin cancer in 2011 — she is memorialized with a color tattoo on his left arm — and she pushed him to come up with delicious meals while juggling severe dietary restrictions.

“It really opened my mind. I think it was the last gift she gave me. It changed me as a chef,” he says.

With the holidays coming up, Fieri hopes to spend time with his family — wife Lori and their two sons — and he had this advice about big meals: slow down, put the phones away and have lots of courses.

“I say to folks all the time, ‘Watch what you’re eating. You don’t have to eat it all. Make conscious choices. It doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself and eat carrots all day,’” he said. “Have an awareness.”

On the shelves

Guy Fieri Family Food by Guy Fieri and Marah Stets (William Morrow Cookbooks, 2016), $30.

On the Web

www.guyfieri.com

Dish to WiG

Have a favorite restaurant to recommend for a WiG review or a favorite recipe or cookbook to share? Email lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

Guy Fieri Family Food. Photo: Food Network

Sadly, no recipe for pureed bass in first Vitamix cookbook

When you speak to Jodi Berg, you find yourself hoping she’ll channel a little bit of Dan Aykroyd.

After all, she’s the fourth generation to head her family’s Vitamix company, maker of those super powered blenders prized by home cooks and professional chefs alike for their ability to grind and puree nearly anything into smoothie goodness. Because that’s the same blender that inspired the now iconic 1976 “Saturday Night Live” skit in which Aykroyd proselytized infomercial-style about the wonders of something called a Bass-O-Matic.

Aykroyd made comic history when he dropped a whole raw fish into a blender, then slurped up the resulting seafood smoothie. And you want just a little of that to come through in Berg.

But here’s the punchline. In an almost tragic case of pop culture absenteeism, Berg not only hadn’t seen the skit, she’d never even heard of it.

Which is why we needed to halt the interview and get her to a web browser.

“I have never seen that. Oh my god!” she shouted, laughing loudly. “But I have to tell you, I have seen our infomercial and it clearly is a playoff from my grandfather’s infomercial (from the 1940s).”

Which the rest of us realized a few decades ago. But just as well. This is a period of firsts for Berg, who has just written “The Vitamix Cookbook,” the company’s first retail cookbook tied to its product (previous recipe collections have been booklets included with the purchase of a blender), which was launched in 1921. Sure, the book isn’t much use unless you’ve already paid the (hefty) price of admission by purchasing a Vitamix. But people who do tend to love them.

And the demographics behind those people have changed over the years. Forty or 50 years ago, the Vitamix held sway mostly over natural foods advocates. They loved the fact that _ as Aykroyd so wonderfully demonstrated _ the blender could pulverize the whole food, no peeling, pitting or _ in the case of bass _ scaling needed. Less waste, more nutrition.

But as Americans’ notion of health has broadened beyond a brown rice and patchouli philosophy, so has the interest in the Vitamix, said Berg. A decade or so ago, if you asked people why they ate so-called health foods, most said it was good for the animals or the planet. “All of the sudden about 12 years ago people starting talking about how it was also better for me,” she said.

That’s around the same time Vitamix began embracing retail rather than just direct sales and worked to raise the profile of the brand. “We need to be out where people are going to be making these decisions (about healthy eating). We need to be a resource for these people as they decide what sort of lifestyle they want to lead.”

So how powerful is a Vitamix? Powerful enough that you can fill the blender carafe with frozen vegetables and cold broth, turn it on high and walk away for 5 or so minutes. When you come back, it will not only have pureed the soup, it will have — thanks to the power of those blades whipping around — rendered it piping hot. And the cookbook has plenty of recipes that harness that cool feature.

BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP

No Vitamix? No worries. Simmer all of the ingredients except the cheese, then carefully transfer to a blender or food processor, add the cheese and puree until smooth.

Start to finish: 10 minutes

Servings: 2

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets

1/2 small yellow onion

1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in the Vitamix, then fit the lid on securely. Turn the blender on low, then slowly increase the speed to high. Blend for 5 to 6 minutes, or until completely smooth and very hot.

Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories; 90 calories from fat (47 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 780 mg sodium; 14 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 13 g protein.

(Recipe adapted from Jodi Berg’s “The Vitamix Cookbook,” William Morow, 2015)

Emeril Lagasse tells life story via recipes in new cookbook

Before there were Food Network icons and cultish produce, before farm-to-table was a philosophy and cake decorating became a competitive sport, there was Emeril Lagasse.

And his is a life story best told by the kitchens that formed and informed him. There was the Portuguese bakery where he washed dishes as a youngster, the pizzeria where he stretched dough in high school, the Asian restaurants where he learned the secrets of Chinese sauces, and of course the grand kitchen of New Orleans’ iconic Commander’s Palace, where he became head chef at 23.

It’s a story Lagasse is ready to tell. His latest cookbook, “Essential Emeril,” is his life in recipes, a collection that covers everything from Asian fusion and Tex-Mex to classic French and Italian.

“Cooking isn’t just about what ends up on the plate. It’s the journey, taking time, having a plan, being prepared, being patient, noticing the smells, being mindful of what’s going on in the pan,” he said. “(The book) is a generous slice of the amazing journey I’ve had up until now in this glorious world of food.”

Through stories and recipes that chart his course through the television and restaurant worlds, Lagasse shares the foods and people _ everyone from his mother to Mario Batali _ that shaped his career. Peppered throughout the cookbook _ Lagasse’s 19th _ are many of the New Orleans dishes he has become known for, including barbecue shrimp with jalapeno biscuits, pork candy ribs with spicy hot Creole seasoning, and andouille-crusted redfish with Creole meuniere sauce.

And through those recipes, Lagasse gives us a glimpse at another side of the chef Americans came to know best for kicking things up a notch. He reflects back on those early, nervous years when he first took over at Commander’s and spent his days off in the Louisiana country, visiting farmers and Vietnamese fishing boats, sourcing trigger fish and escolar that “no one else was bringing to the table.”

“If I could control as much of the quality of what was being served on the table for my guests, then this was what was going to be the path in building an incredible reputation as a chef,” he said in a recent interview. Eventually, “memories of my childhood started flashing back at me and why my family had a farm and why they raised animals. … The avenues connected and my love and fondness for what I was doing just grew.”

Lagasse also isn’t afraid of dropping the names of the many celebrities he has counted among customers and friends. And that’s half the fun of reading the book. For example, there are the “potatoes Alexa,” made with a portobello-truffle emulsion, named after Billy Joel’s daughter, as well as the triple truffle risotto he served to Sammy Hagar at his wedding.

Lagasse went on to open numerous restaurants of his own, including Emeril’s in New Orleans, NOLA and Delmonico. And the book is filled with tips and recipes inspired by those who helped him along the way, Charlie Trotter to Julia Child.

More recently, Lagasse’s television career has focused on Florida, where he lives with his family. When producers first approached him about “Emeril’s Florida,” Lagasse was taking a break and not interested. But the avid fisherman, who loves spending rare days off on the boat with his kids, said he started thinking about the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and all the lakes and ponds around the state. “I’m going to show people that there is so much abundance here.”

“I love the state,” he said. “I’ve met some amazing people from shacks that sell fish sandwiches to five-star restaurants.”

In the kitchen…

CHICKEN WITH CHAMPAGNE AND 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC

“The slow cooking of the garlic makes this dish sweet, nutty and creamy,” Emeril Lagasse writes in his new cookbook, “Essential Emeril.” “Some folks like to cut up a whole chicken, but I prefer all thighs. They braise well and the meat stays juicy. I used Champagne because I love the subtle flavor it adds, but any dry white wine could be substituted.”

Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 to 12 large bone-in chicken thighs (about 5 pounds)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

40 cloves garlic, peeled (about 3 whole heads)

1/4 cup lemon juice, or to taste

1 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling or white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 325 F. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high. When the pot is hot, add the oil.

Season the chicken on both sides with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Working in batches so as to not crowd the pot, sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden brown, about 6 minutes per batch. Brown briefly on the second side, then transfer the browned chicken to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Add the garlic to the empty pot and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, Champagne, broth and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot, nestling the pieces down into the liquid. Make sure some of the garlic is sitting on top of the chicken. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, then place in the oven. Cook, stirring once midway to ensure even cooking, until the chicken is falling-off-the-bone tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and some of the garlic to a platter, then cover with foil to keep warm. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs from the pot.

In a medium bowl, mash together the flour and butter to form a smooth paste. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the hot juices from the pot into the paste until smooth, then add this mixture to the pot along with 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Whisk to combine. Don’t worry if some of the garlic cloves get smashed; they will help to thicken and enrich the sauce. Cover and cook over medium heat until the gravy has thickened, 10 to 20 minutes longer.

Season the sauce with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste. Serve the chicken with the gravy spooned over the top and sprinkled with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.

Nutrition information per serving: 870 calories; 560 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 62 g fat (18 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 325 mg cholesterol; 1,090 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 56 g protein.

(Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s “Essential Emeril,” 2015, Oxmoor House)

What’s cooking: Waste-free kitchen handbook

U.S. consumers are collectively responsible for more wasted food than farmers, grocery stores or any other part of the food-supply chain—a problem that costs the average family an average of about $1,500 every year — but a new book out later this month seeks to help change that, one meal at a time.

The Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook — out Sept. 29 from Chronicle Books — will offer simple consumer tips and tools to saving money and food, from the grocery store to the kitchen.

“Imagine walking out of the grocery store with four bags full of food, dropping one, and not bothering to pick it up—that’s essentially what American families are doing every day,” said Dana Gunders, author and scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Wasted food is wasted money, wasted energy and wasted water. Armed with simple tips and tools, families can make a major dent in what’s currently getting tossed out with the trash — and put a little cash back in their wallets at the same time.”

Americans are throwing away 40 percent of food in the U.S., the equivalent of $162 billion in wasted food each year. Until now, many well-intentioned home cooks have lacked the tools to change their food waste habits. 

Gunders’ handbook — packed with engaging checklists, simple recipes, practical strategies, educational infographics and custom kitchen audits — is the ultimate tool for reducing food waste at home. It dispels the illusion that cutting food waste requires significant time and money, with easy tips for how to:

• Cook with leftover ingredients

• Grocery shop smarter

• Plan meals better

• Decode expiration dates

• Store foods properly

• Use your fridge to its full potential

• Understand shelf-life, storage & usability for 85+ common groceries

The guide can help put more money back in consumers’ bank accounts and also reduce the strain on the environment.

When food is wasted, so are all the resources that went into producing it:

• 25 percent of the nation’s fresh water goes into producing food that is never eaten.

• If global food waste was a country, it would have the world’s largest greenhouse gas footprint after the U.S. and China—food

• Waste just in the U.S. is responsible for emissions equal to those from 33 million cars.

• Food waste is the single largest component of solid waste in U.S. landfills.

• 28 percent of the world’s agricultural land—an area larger than Canada—is used to grow food that gets wasted.

“Food waste is a global problem we can tackle in our own homes,” Gunders said. “When we throw out perfectly good food, we throw out all of the resources used to get it to our table—massive amounts of land, energy and water — along with it. Small, easy changes in our daily routine can add up to big benefits for the environment, and big savings in our pockets.”