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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
Since appearing on season 4 of Top Chef, life has been pretty hectic for Spike Mendelsohn. Besides opening an empire of restaurants in the Washington, DC area—including Good Stuff Eatery, We, the Pizza and new Capital Hill French bistro Bearnaise (slated to debut in late February)—the celebrity chef can be seen delivering funny one liners on Bravo’s Life After Top Chef and competing in Food Network’s Next Iron Chef.
As if his plate wasn’t already full, Spike has recently teamed up with Captain Morgan to create unique recipes featuring the spiced rum and their newest signature liquor, Black Spiced Rum—a bold flavored Caribbean rum blended with natural spices. So how’d this new partnership come about? “I’ve always been a fan of Captain Morgan, so for me it was an exciting opportunity to partner with them. As a chef, it was kind of an adventure to create these new food and cocktail recipes for the brand. It’s been really interesting and a very fun campaign.” Spike shared with me.
And how he got creatively inspired? “Literally, I pictured myself in a pirate’s outfit on a pirate ship, sailing around the Caribbean and being inspired to create some really delicious food and drinks that incorporate Captain Morgan.” he mentioned. Aye aye, Captain Spike.
Spike was kind enough to share a few of his exclusive recipes, which are sure to spice up all your holiday celebrations. Enjoy!
Captain Morgan Spiced Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole
Bake sweet potatoes on 375°F for 25-30 minutes, until tender. Remove pulp with a large spoon and place in a large bowl. Stir together the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg allspice orange juice and Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Salt and pepper to taste. Next, butter a casserole pan and layer sweet potato mixture then marshmallows. Do as many layers as you can, finishing off with the remaining marshmallows. Lastly, sprinkle brown sugar on top. Bake at 350°F for 20 – 30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.
Black Apple Harvest
In a shaker, add ice and shake it like your momma taught you. Fill a rocks glass with ice, take a lemon rind and rim the glass. Next, take a thin slice of ginger and rim the glass and then put both garnishes in the glass. Pour cocktail through holes of the shaker. Cocktail should still have some apple sauce texture, but shouldn’t be thick. Lastly, drizzle with honey.
Note: If you don’t have apricot liquor on-hand or don’t want to make a run to the store, feel free to try without it.
Port Royal Punch (serves 25)
In a punch bowl or large serving vessel, add the above ingredients and stir. Serve over ice in a punch glass – or glass of your choosing.
Additional recipes can be found on Captain Morgan’s Facebook page.
Images courtesy of Taylor Strategy and Kraut Rocks
Thursday night, the 5th annual New York City Wine and Food Festival kicked off with two of the weekend’s most anticipated events. And though I would’ve loved to witness food royalty roast Anthony Bourdain, the Italian in me couldn’t bear the thought of missing one of my favorites—Meatball Madness hosted by the lovely Giada De Laurentiis. “This is the best Meatball Madness ever,” Giada exclaimed about the ‘always sold out’ event, which is in its fourth consecutive year.
The large-scale tasting showcased dozens of the city’s best chefs, who rolled out their version of the perfect bite. Hundreds of meatball maniacs packed into SoHo’s 82 Mercer to sample 36 different types of saucy spheres—in styles ranging from traditional Italian polpette with tomato gravy to pretzel-stuffed Austrian balls and Spanish oxtail albondigas.
Judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian and Anne Burrell, along with Pat LaFrieda and Mark Pastore of sponsor La Frieda Meats, crowned Gabe Thompson of the soon-to-open L’Apicio the night’s big winner for his Amatriciana version. The carnivorous crowd also casted their votes and Donatella Arpaia snagged the coveted People’s Choice Award for her mother’s classic recipe of melt-in-your-mouth tomato braised veal meatballs.
Aperol Spritz cocktails, a selection of vino and sparkling San Pellegrino refreshed partygoers, while a display of cake pops from pastry hotshot Johnny Iuzzini provided some sweet relief. Meatball Madness started off the NYCWFF in delicious fashion and everyone seemed to have a ball—while devouring dozens!
September is a time for new beginnings. And whether you’re going back to school or settling into a fall schedule, nothing helps you power through the day like a delicious, energy-packed lunch.
So what to make when you’re brown-bagging it? It’s easy to get stuck in the same boring weekday routine, but my friends at Food Network aim to change that. They’ve invited me to be part of today’s Communal Table lunch party, where members of the online food community share recipes for midday mealtime inspiration.
My lunch table contribution is a simple, satisfying sandwich recipe that tastes sophisticated, yet is easy to put together on busy mornings (or the night before). This chicken salad’s high protein content will help combat mid-afternoon slumps, while hearty cashews, curry powder and sweet-tart grapes deliver a dynamic flavor and texture punch.
Since this recipe was adapted from Cooking Light, it’s a wholesome option for school lunch boxes too! Kids are sure to love the combination of crunchy nuts and juicy grapes—plus, the curry is subtle enough that it won’t overwhelm picky little palates.
Dig into the recipe at the bottom of this post, and check out the below links for more fantastic lunch ideas from around the web. Want to join the party? Get in the conversation and share your favorite recipes on Twitter by using hashtag #pullupachair (@FoodNetwork @ThisGirlCanEat).
Tidy Mom: Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter Cookies
Made by Michelle: Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches
Chez Us: Healthy Tuna Salad
And Love It Too: Healthy Lunchbox 2012: The Ultimate Collection
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Back to School Roasted Chicken Legs
Bacon and Souffle: Gruyere Grilled Cheese With Apple Salad
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Cakes With Black Bean Salad Tossed in Cumin Vinaigrette
This Girl Can Eat: Cashew Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Spicy-Korean “Ramen” Noodle Soup
Haute Apple Pie: Edamame Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Deviled Egg Salad Sandwiches
Creative Culinary: Margarita Watermelon
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Swiss Chard Turnovers With Parmesan and Pistachios
Cashew Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches (serves 2)
adapted from Cooking Light
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Add chicken, celery, cashews, and green onions; stir well. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken salad on rolls and garnish with lettuce and tomato (optional).
Carnivores, get your appetites ready! Meatopia is back and it’s better than ever.
On September 8, the massive meat celebration presented by Whole Foods will feature the most ambitious line-up of chefs and entertainment in the event’s history. “For as long as I’ve been putting this event on, this is the coolest one by far,” says founder Josh Ozersky. “…we have the greatest chef roster that’s ever come together preparing dishes that aren’t available in their restaurants… You go there to eat and drink and learn about the joys of progressive meat-eating.”
Highlights from Meatopia 2011:
This year’s carnivorous carnival will showcase a best butcher competition, live music, unlimited samples of all natural, humane meat dishes from more than 40 of the country’s most celebrated chefs (including Michael White, Adam Perry Lang, Marc Forgione, April Bloomfield, Sean Brock, Aaron Franklin and Michael Toscano), premium beer, wine and spirits, and Pat LaFrieda of Food Network’s Meat Men cooking up a whole, 1000-pound Creekstone steer. Hungry yet?
And check out my recap from last year’s Meatopia here.
You may not know the name Pat LaFrieda (yet!), but many New Yorkers have already sunk their teeth into products from the acclaimed Brooklyn-born meat wholesaler. From Shake Shack to Minetta Tavern, Union Square Cafe to The Spotted Pig, hundreds of top restaurants in NYC and across the country count on LaFrieda Meats for the best quality cuts and blends. And it’s been that way for nearly 100 years.
On April 9th, Food Network will debut Meat Men, a reality show that chronicles the daily grind of Pat, his father Pat Sr., and cousin Mark Pastore at their family owned and operated 35,000-sq. foot New Jersey factory. The series spotlights all the meaty magic and daily drama that comes with running the business, like creating custom burger blends for celebrity chefs, rushing emergency orders to restaurants across Manhattan, and the perils of long, vigorous days in the meat locker.
I recently spoke with the notorious master of meat to get the scoop on his new TV show and iPad app, where he goes when he’s craving steak or a juicy burger, and more.
Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors has been around for three generations and nearly 100 years. Was being in the family business always what you wanted to do?
I grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and my dad wanted me to get out of the meat industry and not follow in his footsteps—ya know, working overnight in a 35-degree refrigerator. He sent me to private schools and college with the idea that I’d go off and do something different. After school, I became a stock broker and absolutely hated it, so it completely backfired. I rejoined my dad in the mid-90’s and asked if I could help grow the business, because I had worked with him since I was a kid on weekends and days off from school. Being part of the family business was something that I always loved and felt comfortable with.
What’s the best part of what you do everyday?
Like most people, the end of the day! But my favorite part of the job is fulfilling orders. Restaurants and chefs really depend on us to get them quality products when they need it—especially in Manhattan, where space is limited and they need a daily delivery, we try to make it easier for them. And when the last truck leaves and they all go out on time—that’s my favorite part of the day. Because we’re helping out their business.
Since summer barbecue weather is coming up, what’s your secret to perfectly grilling meat?
Cook your meat on a really hot grill. I always see people putting meat on a grill that’s not hot enough. Friends always wonder why I cook so fast. Well, the first thing I do is turn on the grill, and then I start prepping my food while it heats up to 450 degrees. Grilling should be quick and all the flavors intact. When you cook meat on a warm grill and close the cover, you’re almost steaming it.
You just launched the Big App for Meat on iPad. What made you want to create an app?
Over the years we faced a lot of questions about meat—about types of meat and where it comes from, things that were always so natural to us. Even veteran chefs would ask us questions. So, we wanted to make those answers available for everyone since people seem to want to know. We thought of doing it in a book, but knew people could be more interactive with the app technology. There are hours of video and hundreds of photographs to show you what types of meat are available and where on the animal those parts come from. (find out more about the app here)
Do you have a favorite cut of beef?
My favorite cut of beef is outside skirt steak, but my favorite kind of meat is lamb. There’s nothing like lamb leg and roasted lamb loin…
Your new show, Meat Men, debuts on Food Network next week. Congratulations! What can viewers expect to see when they tune in?
Yes, it’s exciting! The show is about our family business, but more what goes on behind the scenes as meat purveyors. When sixty to seventy percent of restaurants are meat-driven, all that meat has got to come from somewhere. The show is about where it comes from and how we portion and produce meat for restaurants and deliver it daily. The characters are hysterical—my cousin, my dad and I—as well as the way we interact and run our company. And you get to see a lot of chefs, which is really cool! Chefs that cook with our products and truly benefit from using our meats.
Was it strange having the cameras follow you around all the time?
It’s not that we didn’t get used to it, but it sometimes got old quickly. When you are suddenly followed around by cameras, you can’t do things you would normally do. Filming a reality show can be very difficult when you are really just trying to run a business. Sometimes you have to just turn off the audio, sit in a corner, shout out some profanity and then get back out there.
I understand the very talented chef Michael White will be on the premiere episode. How was working with him?
Yes, when Michael opened Ai Fiori on 5th Avenue, he really wanted a signature burger that would stand out on the lunch menu. We worked with him to create a blend of meat from scratch, and with just a few tweaks here and there, it was exactly what he wanted. It’s really cool to follow the chefs and see the ideas and desires of what they think is a great burger, and then execute it and get it to their restaurant.
If you could create a custom burger blend for any chef or celebrity, who would it be?
I’d love to make a signature burger for Bobby Flay. I’ve never worked with Bobby. I’m a big fan.
If you’re craving a great steak in New York City, where will you go?
A new restaurant that just opened called Perla. The chef, Michael Toscano, used to work at Babbo and Eataly’s Manzo. I had a rib steak there a couple days ago—and, I swear—it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. It’s a 109 rib steak aged for 56 days, has porcini powder dusted over the top, it’s just perfect.
How about your favorite burger?
I love Shake Shack, of course, but I really like my burgers seared on the outside and kind of rare on the inside. I go to The Spotted Pig for that—they use a grill as opposed to a flat top, and I love that grilled flavor. And the blue cheese over the top doesn’t hurt!
Any other must-try meat dishes you’ve had recently?
The goat’s neck at Kin Shop is a must. Everyone has to try this dish! Chef Harold Dieterle braises it and cooks it in a yogurt sauce. I’ve eaten it several times, it’s amazing—cooked perfectly and to die for.
Eataly is my go-to for LaFrieda Meats, but how else can people in the area buy some to prepare at home?
We’re very exclusive with retailers, but the easiest way to get our grinds and burgers is through Fresh Direct. However, Eataly is great because it’s a beautiful store, they have such an amazing staff and a huge selection. The butchers there will portion the meat for you anyway you like. It’s hard to find something like that in New York City.
To keep up with the latest from the meat maven himself, you can follow Pat on Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to tune into Food Network on April 9th at 11pm for the premiere of Meat Men. Thanks Pat and best of luck with the show!
Image courtesy of LaFrieda Meats