Thursday, January 26, 2012
The Cult of the Celebrity Chef
As a recipe developer first and foremost, I often wonder: What we are really looking for? When it's time to actually get dinner on the table, where do we go for recipes and what do we want? I think what we really want, is for that Celeb Chef to come on over and cook dinner for us!
Personally, I don't think a recipe has to be complicated or have tons of ingredients to be good, or even great. Sometimes, the very thing that makes a recipe great is the simplicity. Often, when I follow a recipe, the first thing I do is look for shortcuts...do I really need that step, or all of those ingredients? For example, I've been making a classic biscotti for years using a recipe that I found in Bon Appetit magazine. It calls for chopping almonds and toasting them before adding to the dough. I found that when you add whole almonds to the dough, the Kitchen Aid does a decent job of coarsely chopping them,while mixing them in. Biscotti are always twice baked so the almonds get nicely toasted during the second bake. The recipe has become a bit more simple, and flavor hasn't been compromised.
Or take eggplant...a chef-y approach has you peel it, salt it, rinse it, dredge in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, then fry...no wonder very few want to undertake that!
My approach. Don't peel it, thinly slice, dip in egg then salt free seasoned bread crumbs. Place on baking sheets, drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake at 400 degrees until tender inside and crisp outside.
Now, take this all with a grain of salt. I do hope this phenomenon is more than mere entertainment. I hope that these chefs, along with other wonderful cooks in your life - like your mom, or dad, or grandmother - do inspire, do raise the bar, and do get people back into the kitchen.