Category Archives: Questionnaire

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers RecipeThe first thing I noticed, when talking with Oy Vey Vegan Cookbook author Estee Raviv, was her passion for her work. Now in food, you will find passionate people (we all love to eat). Raviv is an artist. Cooking is an outlet for her creativity – and that anyone can relax – and cook – in the kitchen. Cooking is Art!

Cooking is Art. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Raviv’s foray into Vegan cooking and eating came about because of her digestive issues. After being raised in Israel, where cheese and dairy are plentiful and delicious, she experimented with elimination diets – and found that eating vegan changed her life. That change is why she started writing her blog, as well as her new cookbook, Oy Vey Vegan. She was so happy that she felt so good, and wanted to share this with the world.

Raviv noted that, like all of us when faced with changing our way of eating, she found it difficult to change her state of mind, and said, “What am I going to do now?” How could she change her routine – and ways of thinking? Well, we can all learn from her – she created her own menu for every day, and found alternatives that are healthy and not trying to be something else. Raviv avoids processed food – she noted that “you can be vegan and eat junk, so coming to veganism as a healthy aspect of a plant-based diet is helpful. Vegan eating is very healthy for us and, of course, it can prevent all types of cancers and other chronic diseases.” Her own menus sound delicious, starting with oatmeal for breakfast (which she loves), and then whatever healthy snacks she chooses for the day – lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and very creative salads that contain plant-based protein. Eating vegan is a whole new world that is fascinating and creative, and she thrived in it.

cooking segment on TV. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
cooking segment on TV

Appearing on a regular basis with a cooking segment on tv in Oregon and Washington, and teaching cooking classes with From Estee’s Kitchen, Raviv is happy to share the things that she is cooking for her family every day.

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
My book in store

Her cookbook, Oy Vey Vegan, includes recipes that she uses every single day. It’s an excellent tool for people that want to eat vegan and don’t know how, as it includes simple and accessible global recipes using fresh ingredients. Most recipe ingredients are in the fridge or pantry all the time, and there are also traditional Jewish dishes with a vegan spin. Examples include vegan pate, which is a staple in every Jewish holiday meal, and matzo ball soup, which she recreated into a vegan version (without eggs) and says, “it tastes better than the traditional dish.”

My herb garden. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
My herb garden

Raviv was most passionate about the joy of eating, remarking that “most if not all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are guilt-free – you can eat and feel good about yourself, and don’t worry about quantities. If you put good things in your body, food is medicine, food is good – as long as you eat the right things, you can eat without guilt.”

As a takeaway from her cookbook, tv segments, cooking classes, and blog (i.e., her life’s work!), Raviv hopes that she can help people with health issues, by teaching about using food as preventive medicine. If you eat right, you can prevent so many diseases. Raviv said, “Act now – don’t wait to be sick, but start now – and change your opinion or stigma about veganism…there’s so much more to eat than seeds and lettuce. If you eat a balanced vegan meal that contains protein, you won’t be hungry, and will be super-satisfied. And if I can change other people’s lives, I’ll be very very happy.”

She loves to eat, is passionate about food, and can eat as much as she wants. Delicious food as preventive medicine? Sounds good to me.

Book signing event at New Seasons Market. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Book signing event at New Seasons Market

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?
Eggplant, salads, tempeh, quiches. I love to cook mostly everything! I love to cook, period:)

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Fruits, vegetables, tempeh and Almond milk.

What do you cook at home?
Everything vegan, mainly recipes from my book and new recipes that I develop. Today, for example, I made a sprouted lentil salad with orange slices and sunflower seeds, homemade hummus and stuffed eggplants.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
First, I love people that love to eat. People that appreciate good healthy food, and people that are passionate about food in general.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal? People that are not open to try new food. People that think that vegan food is not satisfying food or not good food.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex for sure.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Crossroads cookbook author Tal Ronnen

Cooking at my outdoor kitchen. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Cooking at my outdoor kitchen

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Food processor

Your favorite ingredient?
Love avocado, every day! Year round!

Your least favorite ingredient?
Margarine – does not exist in my kitchen

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Clean up

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Hard to choose because I love so many but Probably Mediterranean

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Tofu

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant

Chef you most admire?
Giada de Laurentis

Teaching a cooking class. i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe
Teaching a cooking class

Food you like the most to eat?
Kale salad with crunchy tempeh on top…and avocado, of course

Food you dislike the most?
Bok choy

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Travel with my family / barre class / hikes with my husband /

Who do you most admire in food?
My mom – she is an amazing and creative cook

Where is your favorite place to eat?
If to be honest, at home but I do like to eat out in an Ethiopian cuisine, or at Jory restaurant at the Allison inn and spa (Oregon wine country)

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not my thing

 

Recipe: Vegan Stuffed Peppers

i8tonite with Oy Vey Vegan Author Estee Raviv & Vegan Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Growing up, my mom used to make stuffed peppers all the time. And I loved it! Of course, she used meat and rice in her recipe. I recreated it vegan-style and it turned out so flavorful! No meat is necessary to create an amazing stuffed peppers dish.

Ingredients:

6 colorful bell peppers

Filling:

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 cup celery stalks, chopped

4 green onions – chopped

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 cup pearl barley or brown rice

1/4 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

salt

pepper

Sauce:

1 1/2 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon no chicken base

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon agave

Salt

Pepper

 

Directions:

For the filling:

In a sauce pan on medium heat add olive oil, celery, green onions, salt and pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the spices: turmeric, paprika and onion powder, Saute for a couple more minutes, then add the pearl barley, quinoa, boiling water. Lower the heat and let simmer until all the water have evaporated. Add parsley or cilantro, mix and Set aside.

For the sauce:

Add all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

For the peppers:

Cut the top part of the peppers and keep it to cover the peppers after you fill them. (You can remove the green core.)

Scoop out the seeds.

Place the peppers in a wide pan; try to fit the peppers tightly.

Fill the peppers with the filling mixture and cover them with the top part of the pepper.

Pour the sauce over the peppers and let simmer for an hour, or until the peppers are soft.

Every 10-15 minutes, take a spoon and pour some sauce on the peppers, to keep them moist and flavorful.

Be creative and you can always use the filling in any other veggie you like. This specific filling is super light because it has a large content of the celery, and a lesser amount of carbs.

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters RecipeChef David Pan was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota – one of my favorite towns in the world! After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Mendota Heights, he began his career at WA Frost in St. Paul with Chef Russell Kline. WA Frost, one of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities, is a leading culinary institution in the Midwest, winning multiple awards, including the “AAA” Tour book 3 Diamond Rating – they also have a great outdoor patio, FYI. Pan noted, when I expressed my joy at eating at Frost, that it was a great place to start! He said, “they have a great culinary vibe – everyone is there because they love to cook. There are hard core line cooks!”

He then moved on to the prestigious Minneapolis Club, one of the last invitation only clubs in the US, and his culinary skills were put to test cooking for the elite clientele. Pan spent his summers in Gustavus, Alaska working at The Gustavus Inn, a 2010 James Beard America’s Classics Award Winner. There, he worked side by side with the chef – being a prep cook, gardening, washing dishes, driving a van, and learning how to do just about everything! Pan remarked, “It was the first time I’d been outside of my comfort zone – getting fish straight from the ocean, growing vegetables in a very short summer. It was eye-opening to work with vegetables straight out of the ground, and learn the difference between something processed. I now have a great appreciation for fresh veg – from seed to harvest. When I think of the fresh (and small!) strawberries there, they were so potent and delicious. It changes how you think of foods.”

Pan moved to the Gulf Coast in 2013, and had the honor of working for Chef Bill Briand of Fishers Orange Beach as well as working for Eric Beech of Brick and Spoon. He worked very long days for 14 months, and then made a big life decision. In 2015, he and his wife launched Orange Beach Concierge, one of the only private dining services in the Orange Beach area. He said that there is a big fear to step out on your own, and lose the stability of a full-time job.

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters RecipeHowever, he’s doing many private events, and loving it. From private chef work to themed weddings (a recent Greek-themed wedding saw him making gyros meat from scratch, as well as kebabs, hummus, tabbouli, and every kind of traditional Greek food – and they loved it) and smaller events. When he described his menus, well, I started thinking about a trip down south. He’s very talented – and creative. His kitchen at Orange Beach Concierge specializes in locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible – and that that healthy dining should and CAN BE convenient – as well as affordable.

I asked (as a former Minnesotan myself) what changed about his cooking, when he moved south. He laughed, and said he couldn’t help but be influenced by the South! A man after my own travel heart, he said that “one of the greatest parts of traveling and cooking is that you are influenced by that area, and you take it with you in your education and life experience. I never want to stop – I always want to travel and eat and learn as much as I can about foods (especially locally sourced) and different places.”

I also queried him about what new foods he loves, living down south. Don’t be surprised that he answered fresh seafood, especially  oysters. He shared how delicate they are, and how sensitive they are to the environment that they grow in. Pan also noted that with the longer growing season (than Alaska, for sure, but also Minnesota), the agricultural environment in Alabama is abundant and great. The corn is amazing, and there is definitely a bbq scene (I laughed when he said that chefs “have to be on your game because many bbq critics will let you know if you know how to cook pork or not. I passed the pork test…”).

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe
Boeuf Bourguignon with Roasted Garlic Pomme Purée, Chef David’s way. Traditional French Cooking for the current times. This is the winning dish for the FLAVOR category at #thewharfuncorked2016.

Pan earned the Flavor Award at the Wharf Uncorked Food & Wine Festival in Orange Beach. His style is traditional French cooking for current times; his winning dish was a Boeuf Bourguignon with Roasted Garlic Pomme Purée. Held in mid-September, the three day event combined tastings of delicious food and tantalizing wines, live entertainment, a pinch of southern flare, and a dash of Gulf Coast hospitality.

Chef Pan is relatively new to the coast but his culinary impact is already well known by his peers. His new storefront (a commercial kitchen, located at The Wharf), is available by appointment only for events, private chef table dinners, and more. Did you know that the Orange Beach area has about 5,000 year-round denizens, but over 6 million people visit from Memorial Day to Labor Day? That’s some kind of crazy tourist season (imagine private cheffing during the busy season!), and also influences his cooking the rest of the year, he noted. I expect we’ll hear much more about this innovatibve, interesting chef, who cares deeply for his fellow cooks, as well as his (lucky!) clientele.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
16 years

What is your favorite food to cook?
Roasting and brining proteins

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, cream, and Wickles pickles

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters RecipeWhat do you cook at home?
Ramen – I use the noodles to make sticky noodles…never use the packet

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Willingness to be open and try new foods

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Taking issue with others without bringing it to me first. I can make anyone more pleased if I know there is an issue

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

Your favorite cookbook author?
Thomas Keller

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My tongs

Your favorite ingredient?
Kosher salt

Your least favorite ingredient?
Bouillon

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Peel potatoes – I am allergic

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork (Bacon)

Favorite vegetable?
Carrots

Chef you most admire?
Francis Mallman

Food you like the most to eat?
Pizza

Food you dislike the most?
Whole olives

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not sure if I will ever go there.

Recipe: Chargrilled Oysters

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

1 lb butter room temperature
1 large shallot minced
4 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 fresh lemons squeezed
2 tbsp creole seasoning
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
Hot sauce to taste
Worchestershire sauce, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan shredded

24 oysters shucked, toss top shell
French bread crostini or favorite saltine crackers to complement

Directions:

Fire grill
Reach 500 degrees and hold
Combine all ingredients except oysters in KitchenAid and mix
1 tbsp of mixture on shucked oyster
Place oysters on grill
Cook for 4 minutes, lid closed
Remove from grill
Squeeze fresh lemon juice on each oyster and serve and enjoy!

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

 

i8tonite with Minnesota’s Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs

i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached EggsMinnesota-born-and-bred writer Amy Rea loves food, and she loves the Minnesota State Fair. Fortunately for her, the two are combined each year, as the Fair offers up wildly creative (and sometimes wildly disgusting) new foods. Oh, and part of her writing work involves going with a crew from the food site Heavy Table to the first day of the Fair to try all the new foods, then report on them. Tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. And, as any Minnesotan will tell you, the State Fair is a Big Deal. See that smile on her face? That’s  the joy of good fair food.

MN SF Buffalo Chicken in a Waffle Cone Topped w Sausage Gravy. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Buffalo Chicken in a Waffle Cone Topped w Sausage Gravy

Amy is the author of three guidebooks to Minnesota, and she blogs about Minnesota travel at wcco.com/wandermn and writes about Minnesota food at heavytable.com. She lives in a quiet suburb with her husband and their elderly, neurotic border collie, and lives for the times when her 20-somethings sons come to visit so she can cook for them. In between visits, her food writing draws me in every time. My favorite is her article about a traditional Ethopian coffee ceremony held locally – I love the diversity of people and food in the state, and she explores those so well in her writing.

MN SF Spam Sushi. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Spam Sushi

Take a look at all these Minnesota State Fair goodies – which would you pick? Thanks to Amy and Heavy Table’s hard work, we can narrow our options down when we hit the fair next summer. Thank you for this visual tour!

2016 Minnesota State Fair New Food Review from Save The BWCA on Vimeo.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Hash. Such a great way to use leftovers.

MN SF Cracker Jack Sundae. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Cracker Jack Sundae

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, fresh herbs, eggs, pickles, leftovers.

MN State Fair Pronto Pups. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who truly enjoys food and cares about it.

MN SF Salem Lutheran Dining Hall. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Salem Lutheran Dining Hall

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Someone who goes to a well-regarded restaurant and orders a salad with the dressing on the side, eats half of it, and says Oh, I’m so full. Life is short. If you’re at a good eatery, enjoy it. You can skimp on calories somewhere else.

MN SF Sweet Martha's Cookies. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Sweet Martha’s Cookies

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Yes.

MN SF Sangria Beer with Iced Sangria on Top. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Sangria Beer with Iced Sangria on Top

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lynne Rossetto Kasper.

MN SF Grape Contest. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Grape Contest

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My Microplanes (although my new Instant Pot is creeping up the ladder of my affection).

MN State Fair Maple Syrup and Vinegar Contests. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN State Fair Maple Syrup and Vinegar Contests

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
American, Italian.

MN SF Craft Beer Hall. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Craft Beer Hall

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork. Also, salmon.

MN SF Fried Pickles and Cream Puffs. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Fried Pickles and Cream Puffs

Favorite vegetable?
A tie between summer tomatoes and Romanesco cauliflower.

MN SF Fried Green Tomatoes. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Fried Green Tomatoes

Chef you most admire?
Julia Child.

Food you like the most to eat?
Pasta.

MN SF Turkey Legs Pork Chops on a Stick. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Turkey Legs Pork Chops on a Stick

Food you dislike the most?
Beets.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Hang out with my family, read, write, hike.

MN SF Princess Kay of the Milky Way Butter Carving in Process. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Princess Kay of the Milky Way Butter Carving in Process

Who do you most admire in food?
Anthony Bourdain.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home. Or a greasy spoon. Or someplace that’s authentically ethnic.

MN SF Oof-Da Tacos. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Oof-Da Tacos

What is your favorite restaurant?
Just one?? Masu, Bulldog NE, Ettlin’s Café, Quang Vietnamese.

MN SF Prince Themed Crop Art. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Prince Themed Crop Art

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No, but if I did, most of them would be food-related.

MN SF Bridgeman's La La Palooza Sundae. i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
MN SF Bridgeman’s La La Palooza Sundae

Tomato-Poached Eggs Recipe

This is something I learned from a friend on Twitter, and there are nearly countless ways to customize it. It’s especially fabulous when there are tomatoes at the farmer’s market.

. From i8tonite with Minnesota's Heavy Table Writer Amy Rea & Recipe for Tomato-Poached Eggs
Tomato-Poached Eggs

To serve 2:
Take a couple good-sized tomatoes (heirloom or standard slicers) and dice them (you don’t need to peel them, although you can if you want). Place them in a nonstick skillet with a couple of teaspoons of water. Heat over medium high until the tomato pieces begin to release their juices and bubble. Crack 4 eggs into the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and cover and cook the eggs to your desired doneness. Serve over polenta.

I’ve added various kinds of cheese and herbs to this, and put it over different kinds of grains (quinoa is good too), and it’s always delicious. But when tomatoes are at their best, I like to just let them shine here.

 

– The End. Go Eat. – 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Amy Rea/Heavy Table

 

 

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi & Recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard SeedsThe best way to describe food writer Simran Sethi is to say she is more telegenically inclined and far more accessible as a writer than Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, and Michael Ruhlman. Of course, it’s a subjective opinion; Pollan is probably the most famous, but Simran Sethi’s book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: A Slow Loss of Foods We Love might push her over the top. Part memoir, travelogue, and science, published last year – and due for a paperback edition in October, she has become the food expert who teaches us how to be food experts along with her.

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds

Complete with flavor wheels which detail profiles of beer, chocolate, wine, and bread, her book is a discussion about how we only eat about 30 types of foods, which are harvested around the world. This is leading to “mono-crops” and loss of other edibles that we should be eating. Did you know the banana that we eat from our local grocery store, the Cavendish, is only one variety? According to Ms. Sethi and the World Banana Forum, there are more than 1000 varieties of the fruit. And of that number, we consume nearly 48 millions tons.

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Simran Sethi interviewing wheat farmer Gyanni Singh outside of Amritsar, India.

Sethi’s is no stranger to journalism or the world of food. Her broadcast career began as senior correspondent for MTV News India in Bombay. At one time, she was the environmental correspondent for NBC News with contributions to The Today Show, CNBC, and MSNBC. She has written and hosted shows for The Sundance Channel, PBS, and Treehugger.com on sustainable environments and ethical markets. Her research knowledge is vast; she is an expert at telling a compelling story.

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
The Golden Temple during Karah Prasad preparation, Amritsar, India.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Farmer grappling with dropping water tables in Punjab, India.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Halwais preparing Karah Prasad at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Donated wheat for Karah Prasad in the Golden Temple kitchen in Amritsar, India.

 

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds

However, she decided to write a book on food, one of her favorite topics. She says, “We celebrate through food. We mourn through food. There is nothing that affects us more than our food. In writing this book, it was incredibly humbling to travel to some of these places and see its origins. I wanted to go deeper and teach the world through the lens of food.”

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Wild coffee flowers held by farmer Tebeje Neguse.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Coffee seedling held by Simran Sethi in the Kafa Biosphere Reserve.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Coffee blossoms from the afromontane rainforest in Kafa, Ethiopia.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Farmer Vicente Norero on his cacao plantation in Balao, Ecuador.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Fermenting and drying cacao, Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Close-up of harvested cacao, Esmeraldas, Ecuador.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since age 14.

What is your favorite food to cook?
My favorite foods are the ones cooked for me.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Whole milk for coffee, seasonal fruit, local eggs.

What do you cook at home?
I assemble. Pasta and greens, bread and cheese, egg on anything.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cider.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Zora O’Neill and Tamara Reynolds wrote a cookbook that played off their Queens, NY supper club called Forking Fantastic!: Put the Party Back in Dinner Party. I have never wanted to cook as much as when I am reading (and re-reading) that book.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
This gigantic pan I got when I appeared on the Martha Stewart Show. It was the audience gift but I begged.

Your favorite ingredient?
Salt

Your least favorite ingredient?
Turmeric

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Cook

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Well-raised pork.

Favorite vegetable?
Mushrooms

Chef you most admire?
Most? Tough. Floyd Cardoz, Alice Waters, Dan Barber, Heather Carlucci.

Food you like the most to eat?
Avocado on home-baked bread with a little Penzey’s Turkish seasoning sprinkled on top.

Food you dislike the most?
Fast food.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None and none.

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds (Sookhi Aloo)

i8tonite with Food Expert Simran Sethi and recipe for Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds
Sweet Potatoes With Mustard Seeds (Sookhi Aloo)

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 small red chili, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes until they are just slightly undercooked, 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

2. Add oil and mustard seeds to a medium skillet over high heat. Fry seeds, periodically shaking pan, until seeds start to pop. Reduce heat to medium.

3. Mix in potatoes, turmeric, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cook, stirring infrequently, until a crust forms, 10 minutes more.

4. To serve, garnish with cilantro and chilies, if using.

 

PHOTO: STACEY VAN BERKEL FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 

Simran Sethi profile photos: Cem Ersavci for Dumbo Feather

India, Ethiopia, & Ecuador photos: Simran Sethi

 

 

 

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

Disclosure: Sethi is a PR Client of co-editor Brian Garrido.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes RecipeOn a Wednesday night in Larchmont Village in the heart of Los Angeles, every table at Vernetti was full. The owner and chef Steve Vernetti was in the house, moving between the kitchen and the dining room, talking to everyone as though they were old friends. Indeed, it was obvious that there were many regulars. Vernetti is a neighborhood restaurant, the kind of place you come to rely on for all the important events of life – birthdays, anniversaries, and first dates. The atmosphere was lively, casual, and comfortable. There’s a modern European bistro aesthetic, thanks to Steve’s wife Joanne, who worked with designer David Thompson on the remodel of the original space. The staff made us feel like rock stars. The food was excellent.

His chef training started early. Vernetti notes, “Growing up, we learned how to butcher our goats, pigs, chicken, and turkeys. My brother and I got up at 5 every day before we went to school and milked the goats. We learned how to grow our food. My mother bought me my first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The first thing I made from that book was chocolate eclairs.”

Before settling in Los Angeles in the 90s, Vernetti traveled throughout Europe, gathering influences from Berlin, Paris, Venice, Amsterdam, and Florence. He then lived in London for seven years, working with Chef Charles Fontaine at Quality Chop House and Le Caprice. It is easy to see the old world influences mixed with the new at Vernetti, where Steve is in the kitchen every day experimenting with inventive takes on classic recipes.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

He’s also a thoughtful owner – “Working in the restaurant industry for as long as I have, I want my staff to be happy. We run a place where my dishwashers are key players in the business, just as much as the front of the house. We need the staff to be happy. If they are happy, my customers will notice it and they will be happy, too.”

We decided to try many dishes and share them round, starting with the gnocchi, a traditional northern Italian dish that is typically a rather dense potato pasta. This gnocchi was light and airy, rich with ricotta cheese and egg yolks, and topped with sage butter.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

We followed the gnocchi with vongole and shrimp scampi, since Vernetti is known for their house-made pastas. You’ll definitely want to try at least one.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe
Linguine alla Vongole
i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe
Shrimp Scampi

Dessert was a trifecta of orange cannoli, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate mousse. Hey, there were three of us! I didn’t eat all of this on my own. Look, though…

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe
Chocolate Budino

Vernetti has an excellent wine menu, with a selection of Italian wines that covers the boot from north to south. There are also some great California wines on the menu. We decided to order by the glass so we could pair a different wine with each dish, which I think is a lot more fun. If you find something you love, you can always order more! You can also bring your own bottle and pay the corkage fee of $25.00. If wine is not your thing, Vernetti’s has a decent beer selection, though I confess my knowledge of beer is limited. I prefer the juice of the grape.

Vernetti is a neighborhood restaurant, and since I’m not a local there, I felt quite lucky to have found it. It reminded me of an Italian trattoria where the owners are always there and live nearby. The menu is fresh, and dishes are served until they run out of the ingredients to make that particular dish. I recommend this restaurant to everyone!

Steve Vernetti’s philosophy is to “feed the community as I do my family, providing a special place to celebrate all the amazing things that happen when sharing a delicious meal.” Cin Cin, Steve Vernetti.

 

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? 41 years

What is your favorite food to cook? Thanksgiving dinner

What do you always have in your fridge at home? strawberry jam

What do you cook at home? everything

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? hunger

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? unadventurous

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail? wine

Your favorite cookbook author? Julia Child

Your favorite kitchen tool? my tongue

Your favorite ingredient? salt

Your least favorite ingredient? kale

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes RecipeLeast favorite thing to do in a kitchen? dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? French, Italian, & British

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? beef

Favorite vegetable? potato

Chef you most admire? Eric Rippert

Food you like the most to eat? sweetbreads prepared by my mother

Food you dislike the most? anything that has the word molecular in it

How many tattoos? one

And if so, how many are of food? None

Recipe: Vernetti’s Semolina Pancakes

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients
2cups Semolina
2cups all purpose flour
4tsp baking powder
2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt

Sift dry ingredients in a bowl and add:
4eggs
3-4 cups buttermilk (plain whole milk will work)
1/2cup vegetable oil

Directions
Mix but leave lumps. Use well oiled cast iron pan or griddle on medium high heat and brush browned tops with melted butter – enjoy!

 

 

The End. Go Eat. 

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküI’ve recently fallen in love with the cuisine of Azerbaijan – thanks to the efforts of Feride Buyuran. With her new cookbook, Pomegranates and Saffron – the first comprehensive cookbook on Azerbaijani cuisine published in the U.S. – and her impressive and inspiring cooking website, http://azcookbook.com/, she’s singlehandedly promoting Azerbaijani cuisine to an audience unfamiliar with it. There are few Azerbaijani restaurants in the US – you can count them on one hand – and while the cuisine is somewhat familiar, because of its Persian, Russian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish influences, much is new and exciting.

Imagine a country where East and West are beautifully intertwined in the cuisine and culture and where its treasured cooking secrets are waiting to be discovered. Welcome to Azerbaijan. In Pomegranates and Saffron, Feride Buyuran takes you on a delightful culinary journey through this beautiful land in the Caucasus.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküIn the cookbook, there are over 200 tempting recipes for appetizers and salads, soups and stews, pasta, meat, vegetable and egg dishes, breads, saffron rice pilafs, aromatic drinks, and desserts, all adapted for preparation in a Western kitchen. Interspersed throughout the text are fascinating glimpses of local culture and traditional proverbs related to food that will make your adventure even more memorable.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

Pomegranates & Saffron has won 4 major awards, including Gourmand Best in the World Award, U.S. Winner of Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Eastern European Cookbook, Living Now Book Award with a Silver Medal in the Ethnic Cookbooks Category, and a National Indie Excellence Award in the International Cookbooks Category.

 

I chatted with Feride via Skype, and as we talked, I grew more and more impressed with her worldview – and cooking. Originally from Azerbaijan, Feride moved to the US about 15 years ago. While she visits home as often as possible, she wanted to cook the foods she grew up with, to satisfy her cravings for food from home. Feride had started a recipe notebook when she was 13, curating those recipes as stories. To supplement that small notebook once she was in the US, she started calling her mom, grandma, sister, and other family members (all excellent home cooks) to ask for recipes from home. She conceived of her cookbook when she was 8 months pregnant (talk about pregnancy food cravings!), and has worked for 7 years on her book and accompanying website. She talked about not giving up on her dream, and gaining an education in the publishing industry – that “it’s a hard road, but so worth it.”

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

It shows. The book is beautiful, informative, and chock full of cultural goodness. The website shares recipes, links to interesting food articles, and travel and cooking inspiration. When I asked Feride what she’d want to say to readers about Azerbaijani cuisine, she noted, “Don’t be scared of the name Azerbaijan. The food is a beautiful melange of cultures, and is unique. The ingredients are widely available in the US and not scary. See for yourself how delicious it is!”

She is the perfect bridge to representing two countries in cooking, an ambassador from Azerbaijan who shares the best way to learn about a place – through its food, recipes, and culture.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

One thing I loved learning about the culture and cuisine of Azerbaijan is the traditional hospitality toward guests. For meals, the table is filled with as many dishes as possible, putting the best you have out for your guests. If there’s a celebration (birthday, wedding) meal, there’s a person at the head of the table to make toasts. Meals are to be lingered over, while enjoying the time spent together.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü
Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Stuffed grape leaves – dolma. Very laborious, but the entire family is crazy about it.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Plain yogurt (homemade) and milk (because I always need a batch to make yogurt again), and fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley, etc).

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Enjoying the food set in front of him or her and being appreciative.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
An extremely picky eater is the recipe for an unpleasing meal.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküBeer, wine, or cocktail?
Generally speaking, none, as I am not much of a drink lover. But I do enjoy a few sips of wine or cocktail with friends at get-togethers.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have a few in mind – Faye Levy, Claudia Roden, Darra Goldstein, Anna vom Bremzen, Najmieh Batmanglij, and others. Their books are enlightening and their recipes appeal to my taste.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Cliche, but a good knife and a sturdy cutting board. Also a good blender for those impromptu smoothies.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb KüküFavorite types of cuisine to cook?
Turkish, Azerbaijani, Middle Eastern, Eastern European.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef and chicken. I don’t cook with pork, and tofu is ok once in a while.

Favorite vegetable?
Eggplant all the way, although it is actually a fruit.

Chef you most admire?
No favorite. I don’t want to pick a celebrity chef because there are many chefs out there who are equally talented yet don’t have media exposure. So, to me, any chef who is hard working, creative, yet humble is admirable.

Food you like the most to eat?
I love food of all sorts and anything delicious is good for me. I love anything with eggplant. Also, lamb kabab. And, if it’s pomegranate season, I love the fruit. I also like dried fruits. b. See? My list can continue.

Food you dislike the most?
It’s more of an ingredient – wasabi. Every time I try to like it, my palate says no.

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Dancing flamenco (my hobby), reading when my brain is not cluttered, and chatting with friends around tea table.

What do you most admire about food?
Its innate power to bring people together. Everywhere.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home, in any home. I love homemade foods. They come with stories and if it’s a good company, with a good dose of laughter.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I really like ethnic restaurants serving traditional or fusion foods. There are a few on my mind but no absolute favorite yet.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos. But I am beginning to wonder if a pomegranate tatoo would look good on me.

Recipe: Fresh Herb Kükü

i8tonite with Azerbaijani cookbook author Feride Buyuran & Recipe for Fresh Herb Kükü

In Azerbaijan, kükü (read: kyukyu) is the general name given to dishes in which main ingredients—vegetables, herbs, meat or fish—are bound with eggs, then browned on both sides on a stovetop. It is not to be confused with omelet, as the featured ingredients in kükü are used in far greater amounts than eggs. By its appearance and texture, kükü can be likened to a Persian kookoo, Middle Eastern eggah, Spanish tortilla or Italian frittata.

Simplicity in itself, fresh herb kükü is by far the most popular and the most frequently made kükü of all in the versatile kükü repertoir. In this light summer dish, fresh herbs are mixed with eggs, then the mixture is leveled in a frying pan and cooked in butter on both sides to yield a tender, flavorful interior laced with a golden surface

If you wish, add some fresh mint to the kükü, and if in season, fresh green garlic (green parts only) as well, decreasing the amount of other herbs accordingly. Sometimes, spinach is added too. Herb-laden tender kükü wedges can be served cold or at room temperature as an appetizer or immediately as a light standalone dish with bread or as a side dish to rice pilaf. You can also make it a part of your breakfast and brunch menu. Don’t forget to drizzle the kükü with thick, creamy garlicky yogurt sauce, for that extra touch of authenticity.

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 packed cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 packed cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup fresh green onions
5 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup unsalted butter or clarified butter (can substitute olive oil)
Garlicky yogurt sauce (mix 1 cup plain yogurt with crushed garlic to taste) or plain yogurt, to serve

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped fresh herbs and eggs. Season with salt and pepper, then stir with a spoon to mix well.
Melt the butter or oil over medium heat in a 10-inch non-stick frying pan. Pour the herb-egg mixture into the pan to fill it completely, leveling it with the back of a spoon. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes.
Using a knife, carefully cut the Kükü into 4 wedges (or 8 if you wish). Gently turn the wedges over to brown the other side. If you need to, add more butter or oil to the pan.
Remove the cooked Kükü from the heat and transfer it onto a serving platter. Serve with bread or as accompaniment to rice pilaf.
Separately serve a bowl with garlicky yogurt sauce or plain yogurt, to spoon onto Kükü to taste.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn Grits

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsIn September 2015, Chef Scott Simpson, along with his partners, opened the seafood restaurant, The Depot in Auburn, Alabama. It’s the  newest dining establishment in a town which is also home to the well-known University of Auburn. Overall, the southern enclave, although small compared to larger urban areas, is home to more than sixty thousand individuals, mostly employed by the liberally based higher learning institution.

It’s a far cry from the Southern California beaches where Simpson grew up and many of the global culinary regions where his chef skills were perfected. For more than a decade, Simpson worked at the JW Marriott, first in Palm Springs and then, cheffing at the property in Quito, Ecuador. He joined Capella Hotel Group, luxury hotelier, as the opening chef for many of their new global properties. He skillfully crafted menus for the room and boards’ restaurants in Mumbai, Bali, Mexico, Singapore, the Caribbean, and domestically, in the United States south including Washington D.C, Virginia Beach, and then to Auburn. At each global stop, Simpson acquired cooking nuances used in each cuisine.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsSimpson says of The Depot, “It’s not Auburn’s normal cuisine. The area hasn’t had global food, so our objective was for the eating experience to be educational yet still be identifiable as having Southern roots.”

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsHoused in a former train station, The Depot was reincarnated as a restaurant, a Southern hospitality showcase to its Victorian birth and former life as a transportation hub. Original black and white tiled floors have a polished sheen, a massive shining chandelier dusts a warm glow over the tufted, leather booths and wooden tables. It’s breathtaking food hall for Simpson to display his virtuosity, skillfully turning the former rail station into a delicious seafood brasserie. From the menu descriptions, there’s an international traveler and culinary master manning the stove, with the flash fried cobia wings served with a buffalo buerre blanc, blackened amberjack with a hoppin’ john risotto, short rib osso buco with an ancho demi glaze. Each item plucked  is an ode to the Deep South combined with an international flavor.

With The Depot under Simpson’s adroit cookery talent, Auburn may have a destination restaurant to rival any of the big cities. Luckily, for the college town, Simpson is calling it home.

CHEF QUESTIONNAIRE (with a nod to Proust): 

How long have you been cooking?  Since I was 8. I have a picture of me on a chair so I could reach the stove and first cooked an omelet.

What is your favorite food to cook? Super fresh Seafood (It’s also my favorite NOT to cook – nothing like a delicious crudo or sashimi).

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsWhat do you always have in your fridge at home? Kerrygold butter, fresh garlic, cilantro, Hass avocados, lemons. Local farm eggs, cooked rice, raw tortillas, an array of international condiments ,and at least 3 distinct varieties of cheeses and some Albarino chilling.

What do you cook at home? “Somma Pasta” – I like to open my fridge and make a simple and spontaneous some-of-this and some-of-that dish. I love making creative pasta dishes. I received formal culinary training in Florence, and pasta is always a comforting and quick dish to make.

What marked characteristic(s) do you love in a customer? Adventuresome diners eager to step outside their norm and willing to trust me to introduce them to a new flavor or dish. Sharing guests who have enough appetite to keep tasting and tasting and sharing dish after dish at their table. AppreciativeI love customers who understand this is my artwork, I crave feedback and comments, I am always waiting to hear their honest assessment of the dish.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsWhat marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? I confess I am disappointed in those guests who come in, smile, and say “everything was so wonderful and delicious,” and then terrorize you later that week on Social Media.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? We use clear square Cambro’s in the restaurant to be more space efficient and reduce potential breakage. At home, my wife and I like more eco-friendly, Pyrex style glass containers. They don’t get scratched from scrubbing or stained from a curry or a Spicy tomato sauce.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine: I spent a lot of my life working in restaurants with amazing wine cellars. I am totally spoiled and have a strong appreciation for the pleasure of wine with food. Plus, I’ve never read a Bible story of Jesus changing water into anything else but wine.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsYour favorite cookbook author? I really respect the meticulous research and commitment to the authenticity of chefs like Rick Bayless or Marcella Hazan. Many other chefs throw all that out the window in order to market a gimmicky twist. Many longstanding recipes and techniques are the way they are for a reason.

Your favorite kitchen tool?  Tasting spoons.

Your favorite ingredient? I think Garlic is delicious in most anything and the same for a squeeze of fresh lemon…and never underestimate the difference a great sea salt like Maldon makes.

Your least favorite ingredient? Sugar!

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Waste something.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsFavorite types of cuisine to cook? I really enjoy cooking Latin inspired dishes. Certainly I remain humbled by true Indian Cuisine. Still I try to satisfy myself with a semblance of Indian cooking I enjoyed there while working with some of the very best Chefs in all of India.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? I love them all, but beef is hands down what I most often crave – after fresh seafood. I start salivating when I see a tender juicy medium-rare steak. Fewer things are more satisfying than slicing into a perfectly cooked piece of properly aged, high-quality, well-marbled meat.

Favorite vegetable? Super tough question! Frequently I incorporate exotic mushrooms, or eggplant, which enhances many dishes. Also, I enjoy a very simple side of Sea Salt Maple Roasted Carrots that we pair with our Pecan Brown Butter Trout. Right now, I’m featuring some delicious Malabar spinach, rainbow chard, and Red Mustard frills, which are fresh and seasonal here in Auburn, Alabama.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsChef you most admire? I admire Jamie Oliver, simple pure style of cooking, his obvious, passionate enjoyment of cooking. More importantly, he aspires to more than selfish glory or feeding his own pocketbook – he puts his popularity and voice to much better use.

Food you like the most to eat? I enjoy bold spicy flavors. The cuisine of the Sun and Sea.

Food you dislike the most? Unauthentic, “mis-prepared” or ruined ethnic specialties.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? My art is all edible.

 

Recipe: Chef Scott Simpson’s Blue Corn Grits

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn Grits

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 2 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 2 ½ tablespoons mascarpone
  • Crumbled artisan bleu cheese to taste

Preparation

1. Bring salt and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Whisk in grits, and cook, whisking constantly, 45 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of the pot.
2. Return to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. (For a looser consistency, whisk in 2 to 4 Tbsp. water halfway through cooking.)
3. Stir in butter and mascarpone until fully melted. Garnish with artisan crumbled bleu cheese and serve immediately.

The end. Go eat.

(All photos courtesy of The Depot)

i8tonite with St. John’s, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

Chef Mark McCrowe, Food Day Canada 2015
Chef Mark McCrowe at Food Day Canada 2015

I first met Chef Mark McCrowe at RANL‘s Food Day Canada event in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on my very first day in town. Held in a large ballroom, the event showcased several dozen chefs from around Canada – and some extraordinary local dishes. Newfoundland is in the middle of a culinary renaissance – so much good food, so many excellent and creative chefs, and an eat local ethic that is impressive, given the northern Atlantic locale on an island called The Rock.

I was impressed with his presentation and flavor of his dish – a salt beef and potato crusted cod with mustard pickle puree, collard greens, and a whelk beurre blanc sauce. It was the perfect introduction to Newfoundland.

 

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

Mark was born and raised in St. John’s, NL. Growing up around simple Newfoundland dishes, using fresh seafood and wild game, inspired an appreciation of the local style of food and where it comes from. After studying culinary and baking and pastry arts in British Columbia and working in some of Van city’s best kitchens, he returned home to further his own individual style as a chef. Mark opened his first restaurant, Aqua, at the age of 26 and his second more casual gastropub, The Club, at the age of 29. Mark is living his dream: cooking the food he loves to cook and doing it in the place and for the people that mean so much to him…………Happy cooking!!

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

Find him in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at EVOO in the Courtyard.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since I was about 13. I would record all the Wok With Yan episodes on VHS and recreate them for my family. Still my favourite show!

What is your favorite food to cook?
I’m obsessed with the wide variety of flavours and ingredients in Asian food, but I like to work my way around the globe though ingredients without ever spending the money to travel :p

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
I use way too much sambal olek and sriracha.

What do you cook at home?
I’m a one pot wonder kinda guy. I like simple flavourful food and dislike doing the dishes.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
I like when customers are having fun and are just plain into what they are eating. Life is too short to be a stuffy loser.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
You never know what kind of day someone has had or what they may be going through in their personal life, but there is never an excuse for treating a server like garbage.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
I’m all about the ziplock, baby.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All of the above, please.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Jacques Pepin is and always will be.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My hands

Your favorite ingredient?
Pork and pork related products

Your least favorite ingredient?
Kiwi (I’m allergic)

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Inventory

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
Catching Capelin

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I adore so many types of food. What really interests me is the simple recipes using local Newfoundland ingredients that my grandparents would use. I always like applying them to modern day cooking.

 

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu?
Pork with tofu, if I could

Favorite vegetable?
Onion

Chef you most admire?
Shaun Hussey of Chinched bistro in St.John’s, Newfoundland. He’s a good friend and the type of chef that is always pushing himself. The real deal.

Food you like the most to eat?
I like anything you have to get into and eat with your hands…like a platter of Newfoundland seafood with lobster and crab.

Food you dislike the most?
I hate food that looks to pretty to eat and is too smart for its own good. Sometimes a tomato is nicer than a tomato gel.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
I do have “Jiggs dinner” tattooed on my forearm. It is the quintessential Newfoundland one pot meal that involves salt beef and root vegetables. It’s my death row last meal and by far the most popular dish from Newfoundland, but my Nan makes it the best, so everyone else is out of luck!

 

Recipe: Newfoundland Seafood Chowder with Roasted Fennel, Dill, and Evaporated Milk

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
Newfoundland Seafood Chowder

This chowder is a canvas to show off some of the Rock’s best seafood. You can use whatever you have available here. The flavors of roasted fennel, dill, and lemon really make it special – and by using evaporated milk, you really get that authentic chowder flavour.
Serves: 10-12 portions

FOR THE CHOWDER
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup all purpose-flour
1 onion (diced)
2 stalks celery (diced)
2 heads fennel (diced)
2 potatoes (diced)
¼ cup Pernod
1 cup dry white wine
1 litre fish stock
½ litre heavy cream
2 cans evaporated milk
½ cup chopped dill
5 tbsp lemon juice
3 dashes Tabasco
3 dashes Worcestershire
Salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup cold water shrimp (peeled)
1 lb fresh cod
½ lb mussels
½ lb clams
1 lb cooked lobster meat
½ lb cooked snow crab meat

In a large roasting tray, mix the diced fennel with 4 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven until lightly caramelized. In a large heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and flour together, forming a roux, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add all of the vegetables and cook them for roughly 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the roasted fennel and deglaze the pot with the pernod and white wine while stirring constantly.

Add the remaining liquids, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer to cook slowly for roughly 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the soup has slightly thickened. Season with salt, pepper and add all the seafood to cook for just a couple of minutes. In a separate pan, cook the mussels and clams with 2 cups of the chowder base until the shells open, then add back into the main pot. At the last minute before serving, add the fresh dill and adjust the seasoning.

Recipe: Lemon Pepper Smoked Cod and Crispy Britches with Mint, Lemon, and Green Pea Risotto

Lemon Pepper Smoked Cod and Crispy Britches with Mint, Lemon, and Green Pea Risotto. i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
Lemon Pepper Smoked Cod and Crispy Britches with Mint, Lemon, and Green Pea Risotto

Cod britches are the roe sac of a female cod and are named for their resemblance to a pair of baggy trousers. In this dish, we smoke cod loin with lemon zest and cracked pepper, fry the cod britches till crispy, and serve it on top of a creamy mint and pea risotto. So good!
Serves: 4

FOR THE LEMON PEPPER SMOKED COD
1-8 oz cod loin
1 lemon (zested)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup wood chips (soaked in water)

To smoke the cod loins, put the woodchips in the bottom of a frying pan or wok and put it over a burner on medium heat. Once it starts to smoke take the cod loin and sprinkle it with the lemon zest and cracked pepper. Place on a rack that can fit in the frying pan. By this time there should be quite a bit of smoke, so you want to cover it tightly with tinfoil to capture all that smoke. Let them go for about 10-12 minutes, then take them off the heat. The cod should be flakey and cooked through.

FOR THE CRISPY BRITCHES
2 cod britches (cut into small pieces)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil for frying

Season the cod britches and dust them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Fry them in a household deep fryer set at 375 degrees until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and season again with sea salt.

FOR THE MINT, LEMON, AND GREEN PEA RISOTTO
5 to 6 cups fish stock
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion (finely diced)
Sea salt
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups frozen peas
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat the fish stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat until very hot and then reduce the heat to keep the broth hot.

In another heavy saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and sautée, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onion softens and starts to turn lightly golden, 3 to 5 min. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with butter and the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 min. Pour in the wine and stir until it’s absorbed, about 1 min.

Add another generous pinch of salt and ladle enough of the hot broth into the pan to barely cover the rice, about 1 cup. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock has been mostly absorbed, 2 to 3 min. Continue adding broth in 1/2-cup increments, stirring and simmering, until it has been absorbed each time, at intervals of about 2 to 3 min. After about 16 to 18 minutes, the rice should be creamy but still fairly firm.

At this point, add the peas and another 1/2 cup broth. Continue to simmer and stir until the peas are just cooked and the rice is just tender to the tooth, another 3 to 4 min. Stir in another splash of broth if the risotto is too thick. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, and the Parmigiano. Season with salt to taste.

Serve the risotto immediately with a sprinkling of chopped mint and grated lemon zest. Top with some crispy britches, flakes of the smoked cod loin and Bob’s your uncle.

 

-The End. Go Eat.-

i8tonite: with Chef Jamie Lynch, Charleston’s 5Church & Broiled Oysters with Polenta and Quail Egg

Chef Jamie Lynch, 5Church Charleston
Chef Jamie Lynch

Jamie Lynch is a New York native and graduated from New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vermont. He has worked at New York Time’s 4 star Le Cirque 2000 Restaurant in The Palace Hotel, Aureole under Charlie Palmer and Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud, and Touquevillle Restaurant in Union Square. Reflecting on his years cooking in NYC, Jamie notes, “At that time we had an all or nothing approach to cooking, we ate, drank and slept food. It was ether the very best we could do or it was garbage.” Chef Jamie has anchored some of Charlotte’s most notable restaurants such as Blue with Chef Gene Briggs and Barrington’s as Bruce Moffet’s Chef De Cuisine, and garnered many accolades such as being Voted BEST CHEF in 2013, 2014 and 2015 in Charlotte Magazine’s BOB (Best of the Best) Awards.

Chef Jamie recently moved to Charleston in 2015 to serve as 5Church Restaurant, CharlestonExecutive Chef of 5Church Charleston. 5Church Charleston is a new restaurant in a historic old church (Church of the Redeemer and Harriott Pinckney House) in downtown’s bustling Market Street district. The restaurant’s elaborate, modern décor features awe-inspiring stained glass windows, a white concrete bar, black leather banquettes, eye-catching chandeliers, large-scale pop-art, and hand-painted written verbiage of Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” on the church ceiling. The restaurant’s award-winning food, top-rate service and nationally-acclaimed design will mimic its sister property in Charlotte, N.C., which opened in 2012. Be sure to visit for the Sunday Brunch – swoon!

Crispy Szechuan Pork Belly, 5Church, Charleston
Crispy Szechuan Pork Belly

 

Chef Questionnaire from Chef Jamie Lynch:

How long have you been cooking?
I started cooking at the age of 16 at a small bar and grill. I have been at this for 24 years.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I really enjoy cooking fresh pasta. Pasta when cooked perfectly is the perfect vehicle to deliver a wide range of flavors to the palate in a most satisfying way!

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Hot Sauce… all makes and models. It is my favorite condiment by far!

What do you cook at home?
Frozen pizza, if anything at all. I do all of my cooking at the restaurants and there is rarely time for a proper meal at home.

S'mores Trifle - 5Church Restaurant, Charleston
S’mores Trifle

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
It’s a toss-up between open mindfulness and patience. The open minded guest can appreciate the fun and interesting things we do with food while the patient guest will understand to cook at an excellent level takes time.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Rude or unpleasant. I do not like guests that are rude to their servers or bartenders. Dining out is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine and beer usually – I’m a purist when it comes to booze, so I like my liquor to taste like liquor.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Andrew Carmellini. He taught me everything I know over the years, so I’m biased.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A heavy, deep welled spoon that holds about an ounce is the most versatile tool.

Your favorite ingredient?
I am very fond of Ramps!

Your least favorite ingredient?
Salmon

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Leave! I find myself lingering around well after my “shift,” either talking with my staff about food or restaurant experiences they have. Those are the interactions that inspire what I do!

Crab Cakes Poached Eggs, 5Church, Charleston
Crab Cakes Poached Eggs

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
My own style of cooking is rooted in traditional French and Italian technique, but “New -American” is the label that best suites my cuisine.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork

5Church Lamb Burger, Charleston
5Church Lamb Burger

Favorite vegetable?
I was the Entrmettier at Le cirque 2000 and Cafe Boulud, I have a deep affection for fresh vegetables. I couldn’t pick one.

Chef you most admire?
Andrew Carmellini

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything traditionally ethnic. In Charlotte, N.C. we have really good Vietnamese, and one particularly good Korean joint.

Food you dislike the most?
Salmon Roe. It is the seed of salmon, which i can’t stand, so the egg has to be worse.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Too many to count. They have sort of melded into one giant one. None of them are of food items specifically but more tell the story of my life in kitchens through imagery.
Broiled Oysters with Polenta and Quail Egg

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients:
6 oysters, shucked on the half shell
1 cup cooked creamy polenta, preferably Anson Mills
6 quail eggs
6 dashes black truffle oil
1 small black truffle
Bull’s Bay Red Mash Sea Salt

Directions:
1. Preheat broiler in oven.
2. Cut aluminum foil into 8-inch pieces, and twist ends to create rope. Form into circle-shaped holder to hold the oysters in place, and put into oven-proof dish. Set oysters in dish.
3. Spoon ½ -ounce of polenta onto lip of each oyster to create a little dam, then crack quail egg on other half of oyster to completely cover.
4. Place oysters under broiler with 6-8 inches of clearance from heat. Bake until quail eggs are just set, approximately 4 minutes or until the quail eggs.
5. Remove oysters from oven and put a drop of truffle oil. Shave truffles with microplane, and place shavings on each oyster. Sprinkle with Red Mash Salt and serve.

 

The End. Go Eat.

 

 

 

i8tonite: Chef’s Questionnaire with World Chocolate Judge and Four Seasons Guangzhou Pastry Chef, Audrey Yee

This is a guest post from Dr. Jessie Voigts, creator of WanderingEducators.com

Four Seasons GuangzhouAudrey Yee was inspired to join the culinary profession by seeing her parents cook and helping them at their restaurant – the Mandarin, the first Chinese restaurant in Milwaukee. Now a Four Seasons Pastry Chef in China, she originally wanted the savory kitchen – but fate had other plans. Her first job was in a small restaurant in Philadelphia, where the owner suggested pastry first – because all chefs should know pastry! The culinary world is a better place for it.

She graduated from Cordon Bleu in London, and has worked at FourAudrey Yee Seasons Philadelphia, Four Seasons Santa Barbara, Four Seasons San Francisco, Four Seasons Singapore, and now Four Seasons Guangzhou.

This fall, she was a judge for the World Chocolate Masters, held in Paris. Follow her on instagram to see more of her spectacular desserts:  Audrey Yee on Instagram.

Chefs Questionnaire

How long have you been cooking?  Eighteen years.

@audreyyee • Instagram photos and videos - Google Chrome 1132015 71539 PMWhat is your favorite food to cook?  Apple pie.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Lemons, yogurt, eggs, salad, tofu, apples, and fruit.

What do you cook at home? Eggs, cereal.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? The look on their faces when they are eating their desserts.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Rude, condescending, and impatient.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Rubbermaid.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Gin and tonic. @audreyyee • Instagram photos and videos - Google Chrome 1132015 71410 PM

Your favorite cookbook author?  The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg and Grand Livre de Cuisine Dessert and Pastries by Alain Ducasse.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Spatula and piping tips.

Your favorite ingredient? Apples and vanilla.

Your least favorite ingredient? Durian. (Editor’s note: A very strong smelling fruit found in Asia. For people who love food, it’s a must to try.)

@audreyyee • Instagram photos and videos - Google Chrome 1132015 71702 PMLeast favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Cutting onions.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? American.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Chicken and tofu.

Favorite vegetable? Broccoli and salad.

Chef you most admire? Eddie Hales, my first pastry Chef.

Food you like the most to eat? All kinds of Chinese food, yogurt, salads, fruit, and French fries.

Food you dislike the most? Kohlrabi.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? No tattoos.

Recipe: How to Make Blueberry Muffinsblueberry muffins

  • 180 gr of butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 180 gr warm milk
  • 490 gr flour
  • 10 gr baking powder
  • 5 gr salt
  • 300 gr blueberries

Crumble

  • 50 gr brown sugar
  • 50 gr. Butter
  • 50gr. Flour
  • Combine butter and sugar
  • Then add flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs slowly until incorporated. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix warm milk in slowly. Fold in blueberries, by hand. Pre heat oven to 180c/360f. Scoop or prepare muffins into 12 molds. Top with crumble topping. Bake 20 minutes or when a toothpick comes out clean with no crumbly residue.

The End. Go Eat.