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the sweet scoop
Wednesday kicks off the 21st annual New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, and my excitement over heading down to the Big Easy for all the food, fun, and festivities is overwhelming.
It was an absolute honor to be invited to be one of the judges of the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off—a yearly cooking competition where celebrated local chefs create their most delicious signature dish showcasing fresh Louisiana seafood in all its glory. Helping select a winner will surely be a tough task, considering the caliber of chefs competing. So am I ready for the challenge? You bet! I may even pack my elastic waist pants.
Last year, chef Keith Frentz of Lola restaurant won over the judges and was crowned “King of Louisiana Seafood” for his “Friday Lunch Special,” a cornmeal-dusted wild Des Allemands catfish with Camellia red beans and local crawfish succotash, braised collards, and homemade tartar sauce (get the winning recipe here). And on Saturday, one of these talented ten will snag the coveted 2013 title. It’s thrilling to be able to play a role in this year’s Cook-Off excitement — wishing all participating chefs the very best of luck! Really looking forward to meeting you and trying each of your dishes.
Image courtesy of LouisianaTravel.com
Early Monday, as New York City and the rest of the East coast was preparing for the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, an unyielding urge to get in the kitchen and whip together something comforting came over me. While I still had gas and heat and power, maybe only for a short duration, cozying up to a big bowl of creamy risotto seemed exactly what I needed to help weather the impending storm.
This decadent butternut squash risotto is chock full of fall flavors, with velvety Monterey Jack cheese, toasted pine nuts, and smoky pancetta adding savory richness and depth. Serve yourself a heaping bowlful, pour yourself a glass of a crisp Chardonnay, and settle in to a perfectly satisfying autumn meal.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Pancetta & Jack Cheese
Preheat oven to 475°.
Place squash on a nonstick jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 20 minutes or until tender, turning after 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°. Combine broth, water, wine, and rosemary/tarragon in a saucepan; bring to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat.
Cook pancetta in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan; drain on a paper towel. Discard pan drippings. Add onion and oil to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add rice to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. (Do not stir; rice will have a liquid consistency similar to stew.)
Place pan in oven; bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir in the squash, pancetta, cheese, salt, and pepper. Cover with a clean cloth; let stand 10 minutes (rice will continue to cook). Sprinkle with pine nuts. Garnish with rosemary/tarragon sprigs, if desired. Serves 4.
Love butternut squash? You’ll fall for the flavors in this Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Soup recipe.
From rising food rockstars to acclaimed celebrity chefs, the country’s culinary elite gathered together last night to celebrate the Food & Wine 2012 Best New Chefs. Held at the Liberty Theater in the heart of Times Square, the 24th annual soiree ushered in the latest roster of talented visionaries, as announced by Food & Wine Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin and Publisher Christina Grdovic.
During the Broadway-themed affair, Best New Chef alumni Daniel Boulud (1988), Michael Anthony (2002), Shea Gallante (2005), Gavin Kaysen (2007), Matthew Lightner (2010), George Mendes (2011), and Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais prepared tempting signature dishes, as partygoers mingled with the industry’s finest and eagerly anticipated the winners ceremony.
Every year, the editors at Food & Wine scour the nation to find the most talented chefs with a unique culinary vision. “It is such a delight to honor these incredible chefs, who have made a tremendous impact on the culinary world in a short period of time,” Cowin says.
Now, introducing the 2012 Food & Wine Best New Chefs:
Erik Anderson & Josh Habiger, The Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN
Mario Carbone & Rich Torrisi, Torrisi Italian Specialties, New York, NY
Danny Grant, RIA, Chicago, IL
Dan Kluger, ABC Kitchen, New York, NY
Corey Lee, Benu, San Francisco, CA
Jenn Louis, Lincoln Restaurant, Portland, OR
Cormac Mahoney, Madison Park Conservatory, Seattle, WA
Bryant Ng, The Spice Table, Los Angeles, CA
Karen Nicolas, Equinox, Washington, DC
Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn, Lummi Island, WA
After the big reveal, guests noshed on Creole-seasoned buttermilk fried chicken drumsticks from DJ Questlove—who rocked the turntables and helped take the event to all-out dance party status. In between savory bites and cutting loose on the dance floor with Dana Cowin and The Harlem James Gang, the crowd sipped Belvedere cocktails and Gallo wines, and got sweet on luscious Godiva chocolate truffles.
Thanks to the entire Food & Wine staff for a truly memorable evening. Wishing many congrats to all the 2012 Best New Chefs!
On SOBEWFF‘s last day, a smokin’ hot new event made its mark on the weekend lineup. Hosted by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos from the Cooking Channel’s hit show Extra Virgin, the Festival’s first ever Swine & Wine took over The Biltmore Hotel‘s elegant outdoor courtyard. This swine-celebrating evening soiree brought together more than a dozen celebrated chefs who served their tastiest version of whole roasted pig.
Each pit master spent the day preparing all natural, farm-raised Duroc and Hampshire breed hogs using a variety of techniques. Whether smoked, stuffed, roasted, glazed or rubbed down, succulent pork was spotlighted and paired with a selection of sides, wines and heavy-handed mojitos.
Representing six of the fourteen tasting stations, New York chefs had a strong showing at the swine showdown. Nick Anderer dished out tender Maialino al Forno, Marc Murphy carved up Southern-style porchetta stuffed with cornbread and andouille, and Michael White presented porchetta tigelle with pesto di lardo and salsa verde. Seamus Mullen smoked juicy Berkshire pork jowl and whole suckling pig, while Yuhi Fujinaga paired suckling pig with heirloom bean casoullet, morcilla dip and chicharrón, and Jonathan Waxman rolled out tangy blood orange pig tacos with creamy avocado.
In between savory bites, the crowd enjoyed the Biltmore’s dessert buffet, puffed Padron and La Flor Dominicana cigars, danced to live Latin beats from the Chirino Sisters and voted for their favorite pork dish. In the end, celebrichef Ingrid Hoffmann—Miami restaurateur and host of Food Network’s Simply Delicioso—snagged the coveted crown for her savory-meets-sweet mini pulled pork tacos with guava salsa negra and pickled mustard seeds.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And while food is undoubtedly the star of the show, choosing the right wines to pair with your holiday feast can be just as important to having a delicious celebration.
With so many flavors and textures going on in your meal, it can be hard to know which wines work best. In general, you’ll want to select light, crisp wines with delicate aromas, which let the food shine. Also, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get a really good bottle. Each variety featured below is tasty, versatile, and typically sold for under $20. And they’re all organic, to boot!
Sparkling: Bubbly is a hit for any occasion and can be enjoyed as an aperitif, for a Thanksgiving toast, or throughout the entire meal. Light and refreshing, sparkling wine will cleanse your palate so you can properly taste all the delicious food ahead. Pop open a bottle of California’s fresh and zesty Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvée or the delightfully aromatic Mionetto Organic Prosecco from Italy.
White: To tastefully enhance any course of your Thanksgiving feast, pour a crisp, clean white. Vibrant, citrusy Frey Organic Sauvignon Blanc is excellent paired with everything from turkey and ham (or tofurkey and seitan mains) to potato and veggie sides. Another great option is the creamy Chardonnay from Paul Dolan Vineyards; with hints of crisp apple and vanilla spice, this organic Chard is perfect for holiday sipping.
Rosé/Red: Rosé—whether sparkling or still—crosses the bridge between white and red, and pairs well with turkey, stuffings and most sides. Food-friendly Bonterra Organically Grown Rosé presents a luscious blend of berries and spice, with a nice dry finish. If you prefer red, I recommend a light to medium bodied Pinot Noir. The fruit-forward earthiness and spicy notes will complement your food, without overwhelming it. New York’s Silver Thread Vineyard produces a velvety Pinot Noir, rich with black cherry and plum, that stands up against the tartness of cranberries and chutneys.
Dessert: Room for dessert? It’s always a treat to cap off your holiday meal with a touch of sweet wine. While you savor slices of pumpkin and sweet potato pies, sip on a Port-style dessert wine like Coates Red Cap Late Harvest Zinfandel. Or try bright, fizzy Vittorio Bera Moscato di’Asti for a lighter finish.
The most important thing to remember about pairing is to keep it simple. Selecting wine should be enjoyable, not stressful, so have fun making your selections. Cheers to a happy, healthy holiday!
As featured on Clean Plates.
Photo via FoodNetwork.com