Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Sushi Wants to Live Here

Sushi has been a favorite dinner choice of mine for many years. I love the simplicity, the freshness of the ingredients, the wide variety of choices. I especially love the beauty of sushi. I like to think of sushi as beautiful little jewels of food. You don't need much fancy dinnerware to eat sushi. A plate, chopsticks, a bowl for your soy sauce and you're set. That why I adore this bamboo tray from Domestic Aesthetic. It is elegant in it's simplicity. I would gladly rest my chopsticks on this tray.

No, I don't think you'll see me trying the Nyotaimori anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

While there were a lot of correct answers in the "Q" contest, there was only one winner - Gnat with ten correct! (No one was able to guess all thirteen!) Here are the answers, and thanks again for playing! (Gnat, the prize will be on the way as soon as you email your address!)

1. Quadrettini
2. Quahog
3. Quail
4. Quark
5. Quatre Epices
6. Quenelles
7. Quesadilla
8. Queso Fresco
9. Quetsch
10. Quiche
11. Quince
12. Quinine
13. Quinoa

Monday, December 1, 2008

You folks are good!

There were a lot of correct answers in the "Q" contest!

Winner will be announced tomorrow!
(And thanks for playing!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wishing you all...

...a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't forget dessert...

This is one of my favorite pecan pie recipes of all time! It is a family recipe from Chef Carlos Fernandez and his partner Chuck Smith. This pie is rich and yummy all by itself - topped with whipped cream or ice cream, it's downright decadent!

Carlos' Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 cup sugar
1/2 stick butter (melted)
3 eggs (beaten)
3/4 cup light Karo Corn syrup
1 tsp. salt1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2 Tbs. Bourbon
Mix pecans, chocolate chips and bourbon and let soak for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Blend melted butter into sugar until fully integrated. Add beaten eggs and blend. Add corn syrup and salt and blend fully. Fold in pecan/chip mixture. Pour into pie shell with edges crimped. (Carlos makes an old fashioned Crisco pie crust for this recipe, but you can use whatever pie crust you prefer). Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes until center of pie rises and cracks. Let cool. Best served slightly warm with either fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Extra credit...

If you have the time to make rolls from scratch, these are about the best ever! (At least to my way of thinking!) Be sure to stash a couple away to make little sandwiches with leftover turkey!

Gommie's Butterhorn Rolls
1 cake yeast dissolved and proofed in 1/4 c. sugar water
1 c. milk scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1/2 c. sugar
3 well beaten eggs
1/2 c. melted butter
4 1/2 c. or more flour
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. melted butter

Mix first six ingredients together. Knead. Let rise twice. Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll out dough as you would pie crusts, brush with melted butter and cut into 16 wedges (as you would cut a pie). Roll from wide end to the point. Cover and let rise again. Bake in a moderately hot (375 degree oven) about 12- 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with more melted butter before serving if desired.

Spice up the sweet potatoes...

I've never been a big fan of hiding the beauty and flavor of sweet potatoes under a blanket of miniature marshmallows. This recipe plays up the natural sweetness of the potatoes, while adding a little spicy bite! It's my theme and variation on Alton Brown's Chipotle Sweet Potatoes...

Spicy Whipped Sweet Potatoes

6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 T. unsalted butter
4 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 T. adobo sauce from peppers
2 T. honey
2 T. heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts


Put cubed potatoes on baking sheet that has been covered with foil or parchment paper. Roast at 375 for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly caramelized and fork tender. Place cooked cubes in mixing bowl, add butter and whip until potatoes begin to break up. Add peppers, sauce, honey, cream and salt and whip until all ingredients are well combined. Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just say "NO!" to the can...

Fresh cranberry sauce is super easy to make, and beats the heck out of the canned stuff!

Confit of cranberries

3/4 lb. cranberries
1/4 lb. dried sour cherries
2 c. pomegranate juice
1/2 c. granulated sugar
grated zest and juice of 1 orange

To make the confit, place the cranberries in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring the mixture up to a very gentle simmer, give it all a good stir and let it barely simmer without a lid for about an hour, stirring from time to time. What you end up with is a concentrated mass of glazed cranberries which tastes absolutely wonderful. Remove it from the heat, leave to cool then spoon it into a serving bowl and cover until needed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It ain't Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes!

I love Thanksgiving. It's one big culinary cookoff that inspires family and friends to gastrointestinal greatness. If your post Thanksgiving dinner scenario doesn't include belt loosening, snoring, and red rosy cheeks rouged from kitchens steamy after a procession of pots and pies, you're just not trying hard enough. It's about traditions. It's about giving thanks. But mostly, it's about...the mashed potatoes.

I don't care if the Pilgrims had mashed potatoes at the mother of all Thanksgivings. Most likely they had venison and I don't see a whole lot folks serving that on our special Thursday. All I know is if there are no mashed potatoes, it's not really Thanksgiving. So you can imagine my dilemma at attending Kosher Thanksgiving Dinners. No mashed potatoes. Why? If you're asking why, you must be a goy. (And if you don't know what goy means...) Kosher rabbinical rules for food preparation and consumption are very strict and one rule is not to mix dairy and meat products at the same meal. This means no cheeseburgers, no hot buttery buttermilk biscuits with your fried chicken, and most importantly - no mashed potatoes with your turkey. If you love fluffy, creamy, buttery mashed potatoes like I do you can imagine my pouty face at a Kosher Thanksgiving.I feel your pain, Bill.

But it's the year 2008 and we now have options that will make mashed potatoes taste almost as good as those loaded with real butter and cream. That's right, my friends, you can adhere to dietary laws of kashrut (Kosher) while keeping the traditions of Thanksgiving with turkey and mashed potatoes.My method of making mashed potatoes starts with your basic russets. I've used Yukon golds but I like the fluffiness that the starch content of the russet gives you. I plop them into a pot of cold salted water, un-peeled. Once the water has reached a boil, I turn down the heat and let them cook 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. I remove the potatoes from the water and cut them in half. I like fluffy smooth potatoes so the next step requires one of these.This is not a giant garlic press; it is a potato ricer. Put the cut side down of your potato into the basket and squash away. The beauty of this process? The potato skins stay behind and you get little threads of potatoes. Once all of the potatoes have been "riced", I add 8 tablespoons of melted butter, stirring with a spoon. After the butter has been incorporated, I warm a cup of half and half and slowly stir that into the potato mixture, seasoning with salt and pepper and tasting so not to over salt. I usually mix this all in a heat resistant bowl that can sit over a pot of slowly simmering water so my potatoes stay nice and warm while I work on other food. This is the recipe for some soul satisfying mashed potatoes.

For my kosher version I needed to replace the half and half and butter with items that at least taste comparable. For the butter substitute, I choose Earth Balance margarine, a non-dairy vegan product. I replaced the half and half with Rice Dreams rice milk. While it does not contain the same fat content as the half and half, it actually works fairly well.The other important thing about these two products is that you will find this symbol on the label.That means the product is kosher and therefore acceptable for kosher mashed potatoes. I followed my basic recipe of potatoes, butter substitute and milk substitute. The only thing you need to watch out for is salting your potatoes. The Earth Balance has a bit more sodium than the unsalted butter I usually use, so be sure to taste before that final seasoning. Once you're done, your mashed potatoes are ready and waiting for your Kosher turkey dinner date.  B'tay a'von!

And now for something completely different...

I tried this recipe from Chef Tyler Florence last year, and everyone loved it. It's a really nice twist on traditional dressing without being too "out there". You can change up the herbs and bread (I have since used both brioche and challah with success) you use to echo other flavors in your meal. Enjoy!

Savory Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cubed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering baking dish
2 shallots, sliced
4 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 tablespoons chopped chives
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place cubed bread on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

In a large saute pan melt the butter and saute the shallots until just wilted. Add mushrooms and saute until browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a large bowl make custard, whisk together the cream with the eggs and season with salt and pepper.

Add toasted bread cubes along with the chives, thyme and sage to the egg mixture. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms and mix in the grated Parmesan.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, top with more grated Parmesan, to taste.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the custard is set.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thanksgiving: The sides.

A couple of years ago, we asked former Top Chef contestants for their favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Chef Otto "The Pirate" Borsich kindly contributed this recipe. It's easy, it's delicious, and it has become a major favorite with my family, Thanksgiving or not!

Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta and Pine Nuts

Brussels Sprouts 2 pints
Onion, medium size 1 each, medium diced
Pancetta, small dice ½ lb
Garlic, minced 3 cloves
Pinenuts, toasted ¼ cup
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil as needed


Sort through the brussels sprouts and remove any leave that are not tightly packed onto the head. Score an X about ¼ inch deep into the base/core of each brussels sprout. Bring a gallon of salted water to boil. Once boiling add the sprouts and cook for about 5 minutes after the water has returned to a boil. To see if they are cooked cut a large one in half to check if it is tender. Place in an ice bath to stop cooking and preserve color, and remove after a minute, at this point you may wish to cut the Brussels in half. This makes them easier to eat and prevents them from rolling.

Add about a tablespoon of oil to a skillet add the pancetta and cooked until crispy. Remove the pancetta but reserve the rendered fat. Cook the onions in the rendered fat over medium heat until cooked with no color, add garlic and cook 5 more minutes. Remove onion/garlic mixture. Add the brussels to the skillet, season with salt and pepper and toss until heated through. Add onion/garlic mixture. Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle with crisped pancetta and toasted pine nuts.Thanks, Otto!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef NYC Poll

What's your first impression of Season 5?
It looks promising!
It sucked.
I'll reserve judgement for now... free polls

Never Fail Turkey Gravy

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cognac
4 c. good chicken or turkey stock
finely chopped giblets (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper (optional)

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add flour all at once, whisking until the flour is completely incorporated into the butter. Cook for about three minutes (this will take the raw flour taste out of the roux without giving it too much color - you want a pale blond roux). Transfer to a glass measuring cup, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate.

When turkey is done, remove from pan and tent with foil. While the turkey rests, pour out all pan drippings, leaving only the brown crusty bits (fond) on the bottom.

Deglaze the roasting pan with the cognac (be sure to scrape up all of those crusty brown bits!)and allow to reduce by about three quarters (pan should be nearly dry). Add stock and bring to a simmer (if you're making giblet gravy, add those in now!)

Place the cold roux in a large saucepan. Slowly add the hot stock mixture to the cold roux, whisking constantly, and simmer until the gravy reaches the desired thickness. If you want a richer gravy, whisk in a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary before serving.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes - The Brine Divine

If you want your Thanksgiving turkey to be the star of the meal, you might considering brining. Brining will not only produce a turkey that is moist beyond compare, it also improves the texture of the meat, and imparts amazing flavor to a bird that, let's face it, has a tendency to be a tad on the bland side. And best of all, it's neither expensive nor terribly complicated.

1 gallon vegetable stock
1 c. kosher sea salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. juniper berries
1 whole head garlic, cut in half to expose cloves
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised
6 sprigs fresh sage, bruised
6 sprigs fresh thyme, bruised
6 sprigs fresh savory, bruised

1 gallon ice water
2 large trash bags (not made from recycled materials) or
brining bag
ice chest
16 - 20 lb. turkey
additional herbs for roasting (see above)
1/2 medium onion
1 lemon, quartered

Bring stock to simmer in large stockpot. Add salt and sugar, and stir until completely dissolved. Add next 9 ingredients. Cover and allow to simmer for half an hour. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 24 hours prior to actually brining the bird.

24 hours before roasting, remove the giblets and rinse the turkey thoroughly. Line the ice chest with one of the bags, placing the other bag inside of it. Add one gallon of ice water, and the chilled brine mixture and stir a bit. Place turkey in brine, making sure it's completely submerged. Secure the bag and cover all with ice. Set ice chest in a cool place and allow turkey to soak in the brine for 24 hours before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove turkey from brine, and rinse and dry (you won't get crispy brown skin unless the turkey is dry!) thoroughly. Place in large roasting pan. Stuff the cavity with fresh bunches of the same herbs used in the brine, 1/2 an onion, and a lemon that has been cut into quarters. Tie legs with kitchen twine. Brush entire turkey with butter, and cover the breast with foil. Roast, basting with butter (be sure to baste under the foil), until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 135 degrees. Remove foil, and continue to roast until skin is browned, and internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Transfer turkey to a platter, and tent with foil (it will continue to cook). Allow turkey to rest while you make the gravy (but no less than 15 minutes) before carving. This allows time for the juices to redistribute.

I guarantee that you will not regret the little bit of extra work - it will pay off in the tenderest, juiciest bird you have ever cooked!

Just a note - the drippings from a brined bird can be very salty! Tomorrow's recipe...gravy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

They're baaaaaaack...

Welcome to our dark side, bitches...
Let the games begin.

It's just around the corner...

Food traditions are an interesting and highly personal thing; especially at Thanksgiving. Some balk at yams without toasted gooey marshmallows on top, stuffing without oysters, or a feast that lacks that ubiquitous green bean casserole. My sister-in-law absolutely must have "corn and oysters" on her Thanksgiving menu. I have a friend who cannot bear to celebrate this holiday without peas with pearl onions. As for me, no matter how I tweak my turkey, diversify my dressing, convert my cranberries, vary my vegetables, or doctor my desserts, it's just not Thanksgiving unless my Grandmother's butterhorn rolls are on the table. They remain sacrosanct.

So, how did the mainstays of Thanksgiving food tradition come to be? Well, New Englander, Sarah Josepha Hale seems to have been the driving force behind inventing the Thanksgiving myth of turkey and stuffing with all trimmings. She wrote a highly idealized account of just such a fictional Thanksgiving dinner in her novel Northwood (1827), which included roasted turkey, stuffing, preserves, and pumpkin pie. A far cry from what experts speculate to have been the original pilgrim meal of venison, lobster, wild birds, corn puddings and currants.

But the fact is, everyone has had their fingers in the Thanksgiving pie, starting with the pilgrims who adapted newly discovered foods to fit the recipes they brought from England; creating new dishes that were perhaps destined to become tradition in their families (with various tweaks and modifications occurring through the generations). Then there are other immigrants who had not celebrated Thanksgiving in their native lands who readily adopted the holiday and the dinner. In the process, they also added to and modified the "traditional" Thanksgiving menu. And of course, there are my traditions, and yours...

Over the next few days, we'll be posting some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes. Some are old, some are new, and some are in between. We hope that you like them, and we also hope that you will take a minute to share some of your Thanksgiving food traditions (and how they became so) in our comments section!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Miriam Makeba


These are the roots of rhythm

And the roots of rhythm remain

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Top Chef NYC Preview

Top Chef NYC premieres Wednesday, November 12!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thanks, Guys!!

We want to thank all of our readers who visited Gnat's Glass and left comments that referenced this site - a picture of our prize is shown above!! Be sure to keep checking in with Gnat's - original blown glass ornaments will be coming soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Bon Appetit, Y'all"

I love free stuff. Most of the time, however, when you score free booty it turns out that it really wasn't worth the effort it took to haul it home. Then you have to find a place to store it while it waits for your next yard sale or it's new life as a re-gifting opportunity. It's the rare occasion when the free object exceeds your wildest expectations and actually allows you to recall with fondness the looks of envy you got when the lovely free object was placed into your greedy hands. Virginia Willis's Bon Appetit, Y'all is just such an object.
Photos by Ellen Silverman

There are, literally hundreds of "Southern" cookbooks out there in the bookshop world. Why add this one to your library? Well, for one reason, it doesn't dumb itself down to reach the widest possible audience. It expects you know that making your own stock will make your dish much more complex than canned stock, that you know what sorghum is and that you know the exquisite flavor that comes from splitting and scraping down a vanilla bean. Virginia knows her stuff, but is also funny as her "$20,000 Rice Pilaf" recipe demonstrates. As she tells it, her efforts at making rice before her time at L'Academie de Cuisine were dismal at best but after a year at school, her rice pilaf sang and the "$20,000 Rice Pilaf" was born (1 year = $20,000.00 tuition). Imagine how much you've saved by letting Virginia do all the work.

You'll have a hard time choosing which recipe to make first. The purely Southern recipes like "Funeral Grits" or "Meme's Fried Chicken and Gravy"? Or how about the classic French recipes like "Coq Au Vin" or "Gratin Dauphinois"? Can't decide? Then maybe you'll be tempted by the fusion of the two in recipes like "Fried Catfish Fingers with Country Remoulade" and "Vidalia Onion Quiche".

What did I make first? Biscuits of course.
Photo by Linda Misenheimer

The best way to test a true Southern cook is to make her biscuits. These are Meme's Biscuits made with buttermilk and butter. They get the lip smacking, finger licking seal of approval, especially when paired with a tasty hunk of good bacon. When I was at the event where Virginia was giving demonstrations I asked her what I should make first. She thought a minute, mentally flipping through the recipes in her head and settled on two, neither which were biscuits. The first was her "Coca Cola-Glazed Baby Back Ribs". Considering how much I love the sweeter sauces out there in the barbecue nation, you'd think I'd whip this right up. However, when you live in Kansas City and pass by at least five barbecue joints on the way to work just as they are just firing up their wood for the day's meat parade, I decided to leave that one for later. Her second suggestion was much more intriguing - "Chicken Saltimbocca with Country Ham". Photo by Linda Misenheimer

Boneless, skinless chicken breast wrapped with fresh sage leaves in a paper thin slice of Prosciutto de Parma. Lightly dust the whole little package in flour and fry in a little bit of oil. I served mine with basic grits accented with a little dry Italian cheese melted in for good measure. Don't be afraid of the saltiness of the ham. It marries well with the mildness of the chicken. You'll have even more depth of flavor with that layer of sage and a generous drizzling of a reduction of wine and Marsala sauce. It's a wonderful dish and one I will be making again.

This cookbook is beautifully done. And while you may see touches of "La Martha" (for whom, as I mentioned above, Virginia worked) in the color palette and the art direction, the main focus is on the food. Absent are the cluttered dressings and props that littered most cookbooks thirty or so years ago. It's clean and sharp and lovely. Both Virginia (who not only cooked the food but styled the photos) and Ellen Silverman (the photographer) take the rule that "You eat with your eyes first" very seriously. There's a simple close up shot of baby back ribs on a cutting board with an Old Hickory knife that makes me want to lick the page. And off to the side, just a little out of focus are two gnawed on ribs...ribs so good that you can't keep the photographer's assistant from eating them. This is a book from a woman who cherishes her very first memories of food. In it, she shares her knowledge, her generosity and her belief that we can all find common ground when we break biscuits together. There's plenty of time before Christmas to get your copies at Tenspeed Press to give as gifts. Just don't forget to get one for yourself!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A contest!

Phriend Phos turned us on to Gnat's Glass, a very cool site! Check it out for a chance to win yourself, and us a prize! Just let them know you were referred by Karmic Kitchen! The contest ends on Halloween, so hurry!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Mahogany Experiment: When in doubt, add butter.

Who can resist chocolate cake? Not many folks that I know, and that's why I chose the Mahogany Cake recipe from my antique shop find as my first "Lost Recipe Box" cooking challenge. I was also keeping in mind that even food made from a not so great recipe will usually disappear as long as it is presented in dessert form...

Before starting, I did a little research on the recipe. Searching "Mahogany" yielded some interesting results. There was a recipe similar to the one on the card in the NY Times Heritage Cookbook that claims to have originated in 1870, but I found the exact recipe from the card at YumYum, so if you want to see the recipe without having to decipher the spidery handwriting, click away.As you can see above, the first run of this recipe was not awe inspiring. The flavor wasn't exactly overflowing with the chocolate goodness we crave. The "Mahogany Icing" was your basic grainy cocoa and powdered sugar icing. Flat, unappetizing and definitely not attractive. The cake, while somewhat moist, was still very crumbly, falling apart when I tried to slice it. And the raisins and nuts added absolutely nothing to the complexity of flavor (or the ease of slicing!). It needed some serious help, so I called in my culinary muse, the Java Junkie, for a consult. "It needs a major overhaul, and it looks like, well...a giant hockey puck!" I said. "How do we fix it?" She reviewed the original recipe, analyzed the problems, and came up with a few suggestions to improve both the texture and the taste."First we need to change up some of the ingredients. Add a fourth egg, use superfine sugar, substitute half a cup of tapioca starch for half a cup of the cake flour, and eliminate the nuts and raisins." she suggested. "Next, let's address the way the ingredients are combined...let's change the way the ingredients are incorporated thusly - whip the egg yolks and sugar until they double in volume and you can make "ribbons" with the mixture, then add the softened butter (use butter, not margarine), then the dry ingredients, then the milk/cocoa mixture. Fold the egg whites in by hand, being very gentle - the ribbonning is what makes the cake moist, but the way the egg whites are incorporated is what will make it light, like a genoise". "And no tapping the damned pans on the counter to even the batter!"

Having taken care of the cake part, I addressed the other problem..."We have another issue - that icing has got to go" I said, "what's your go to chocolate icing recipe?" "I've got just the thing!" she exclaimed. "Ina Garten's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. It's divine."
I incorporated all the changes she suggested and as you can see it's much more appealing visually. The texture also improved; moist, with a nice tight crumb. The icing? Well let's just say Paula Deen's got nothing on the Contessa when it comes to butter! That icing is off the charts. The key (besides the pound and a half of butter) is the addition of espresso, and using the best chocolate you can. I used Callebaut but you could try Valrhona or Scharfenberger. It's worth the extra money.

I think that, after the adjustments, the Mahogany Cake is now a real winner. (Smile office-mates, more cake for you!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dennis Quaid Wants Water!

Chef Carlos Fernandez News

We received the following note from our dear boys Chuck & Carlos, bringing us up to date on Chef Carlos' career and current events at the Hi-Life Cafe - sounds pretty exciting!

Hi Friends,

Hope this is finding you all holding tight and breathing through the turmoil around us. Just a short note to fill you in on Hi-Life Cafe news. Chef Carlos is currently in New York City representing the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau as they promote our city as a culinary destination! He is cooking for the national media, so be on the lookout for articles.

Last month Carlos was the Celebrity Chef Chair for the annual March of Dimes event that raised over $136,000!! You can also catch Carlos on the national morning show "Levantate" on Telemundo next Wednesday morning around 8:30 cooking up something fun.

For those of you looking for a great deal (and who isn't) we are participating in Dine Out Ft. Lauderdale through the second week of November. We are featuring a three course dinner for $35, featuring our twelve-hour braised short ribs, Hawaiian Butterfish and much more. Check out our website for the full menu. And be on the lookout for a special Halloween Dinner that we will be offering at the end of the month.

We thank you for your continued support as we begin our 14th year of business and hope to see you at Hi-Life Cafe very soon!

Hi-Life Cafe

If any of our readers are in the Ft. Lauderdale area, be sure to stop in and have a fabulous meal with our boys!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tony & Ted - No Reservations!

As you'd expect from an Anthony Bourdain vehicle, opinions fly and no topic is off limits as Tony hosts a no-holds-barred dinner with four featured guests. Joining Tony around the table are celebrated writer Bill Buford, "Nightlife Queen of New York" Amy Sacco, TV personality Ted Allen, and gossip columnist Chris Wilson. They'll debate the ethics of an $1,800 dinner, and Tony will reveal how he always, secretly hopes the waiters like him. Food and travel stories will run wild from Wylie Defresne's restaurant wd~50 in New York City. Anything goes "At The Table With Anthony Bourdain." Tune in Monday, October 20, at 10 p.m. ET!

From "The Travel Channel" 10/14/08

Thanks, Eggy!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Will you be watching what happens?

Top Chef NY premieres Wednesday, November 12 - Will you be watching?

Will you be tuning in to Top Chef NY?
Absolutely! I'm a Top Chef crack monkey!
Maybe, if I don't have something else to do...
That crap?? No way!!!
Free polls from

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Can Toby (who??) Young fill Ted's Allen's shoes?

The Troll's query got us to wondering - just who is this person taking Ted Allen's place on Top Chef N.Y.? We're not familiar with Toby Young - in fact, we'd never really heard of him until he was announced as being Ted's replacement. We can only go on what we've read, most of which is a bit vague when it comes to Young's culinary qualifications that seem to be limited to his involvement on an amateur television cooking competition, and a failed attempt at being a restaurant critic.

According to NNDB, "Toby Young's two-pronged claim to fame is having been fired from nearly every newspaper or magazine he's worked for, and having largely nothing to say except blather about himself. In 1995 Conde Nast, Inc. lured Toby with $10,000 to New York for one month. That one month extended to a two and a half year career at Vanity Fair; Young wrote 3,000 words, for which he was paid $85,000 (roughly $28per word). Nice work if you can get it.

The London-based Private Eye satire magazine sums him up as a poser, quoting a (fictitious) woman meeting him at a party: "So you're the Toby Young you write so much about..."

We also found smackerels in The Independent, and The Guardian.

But don't just take the word of journalists, here's an article from the Spectator U.K. about Toby's "issues", written by Toby himself. Not enough? How about a visit to his personal shrine uh-er we meant website...

And if you still have any doubt that Mr. Young is qualified to step into Ted Allen shoes, just read his rave review of "The Cheesecake Factory" in Slate Magazine.

We're hoping it's all hype...that's he's really more than a legend in his own mind. But just in case, say a little prayer for the cheftestants, and keep your fingers crossed for a Cobb Salad challenge...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Colorado, Ohio Bring It To Top NYC!

When the fifth season of Top Chef airs later this year, it'll have a decidedly "Front Range" flavor. Not one but two Colorado (home of the Java Junkie!) chefs have made the final cut!Hosea Rosenberg, originally from Taos, New Mexico, realized that he wanted to be a professional chef while attending the University of Colorado for his Bachelors of Science in Engineering Physics. After graduation, he began to devote his time and career to conquering his goal. Past positions include cooking for Wolfgang Puck, Kevin Taylor and Sean Yontz, as well as serving as the chef of Dandelion Restaurant and Triana Restaurant in Boulder. He is currently the chef of Jax Fish House in Boulder, CO.Melissa Harrison was born in Maryland and raised on a horse farm. Melissa spent her youth surrounded by farm fresh produce and livestock. Her upbringing influenced her love of food and cooking from an early age. After receiving her culinary degree from Baltimore International College, Melissa relocated to Boulder, Colorado where she currently serves as a Sous Chef at Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace. Dedicated to creating soulful Latin America cuisine, her favorite part of cooking is making people happy. Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace has garnered numerous accolades including “Denver’s 10 Best New Restaurants” and “Denver’s Best Restaurants.”Our good friend and faithful reader, the illustrious Eggy reports that she too has a homie in the competition! Chef Lauren Hope works as the Chef Tournant at Jag's Steak and Seafood, the most luxurious and contemporary steakhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio. Sparked by an Easy Bake Oven as a little girl, Lauren's passion for pastry and the culinary arts bloomed throughout her childhood and into her current career. While attending the prestigious CIA in Hyde Park, New York, Lauren met her husband, a USMA cadet. Together they have traveled the country, influencing Lauren's eclectic and free-form culinary style.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

No invite required, y'all!

As a rule, when you see a cloud of blue smoke hanging thickly over Kansas City it means that the tailgating faithful have gathered for a Chiefs home game. However since it's a beautiful Saturday in October, it can only mean one thing.You can smell the aroma before you even park your car. There's a whole lot of meat cooking low and slow.The American Royal Barbecue is the largest barbecue contest in the US. Over 500 teams compete in several categories. Friday night is the beginning of the cooking and the party. Because of Health Department regulations, teams cannot sell their offerings to the general public. Instead they hold "private parties" and give tickets to friends, family and sponsors. If you're a meatatarian, you learn very quickly to make friends with one of the bigger teams. And may I just say these people are very dedicated to their "sport"...and also very clever.You know it's a big contest when they keep their supplies in a semi and use a pallet truck to move them.That's because there's some huge grills out there that need charcoal.Don't forget the meat!
And where does all of this hard work end up?Why, in a styrofoam clamshell, of course - so that......the folks hidden behind the curtains can eat and judge your food. If you do well in all four categories of meat (Brisket, Pork Ribs, Pork and Chicken) you can be eligible for the Grand Champion Prize of a Trophy, a Kingfisher Kooker and $12,500 and an automatic invitation to the contest for the next five years. Of course that's only for the KC Masterpiece Invitational, to which only Grand Champions are invited. There's also an open contest with a lot more contestants. It all adds up to a whole lot of meat.

Not into ribs or brisket?These two Canadian women DROVE all the way from British Columbia just for this event. They had already eaten their way through their meat options and were having dessert - a little something called an Elephant Ear. And trust me, the picture does do the size of this thing justice. It's a huge piece of deep fat fried dough smothered with cherry topping. They let me have a nibble and it was quite tasty. I think I'd need more than one other person to help me eat it though. I tip my hat to these ladies; they are truly in the Padma Laksmi class of eaters.

Some of the best food I had for the day had nothing to do with barbecue at all, but was by one of the food demo chefs. Meet Virginia Willis.She is seen here demonstrating a very yummy black eyed pea salad. Virginia is based in Atlanta, and is officially the second person I know who actually keeps chickens within city limits. She is, however, the first I know to name her chickens after female country singers. You can guess who the deep breasted chicken is named for.

Now it's important to pay attention at these food demos because you never know when your attention to detail will pay off in, oh say... a free cookbook!Virginia kindly signs my prize. You can expect a Karmic Kitchen review of her cookbook "Bon Appetit, Y'all" in the coming weeks, but in the meantime visit her website for a selection of recipes from her cookbook. This woman makes a mean Steak Salad, y'all!

If you are serious about your barbecue skills or would just like watch masters at work then make plans to spend the first weekend of next October in Kansas City and visit the American Royal Barbecue. You won't be disappointed.
Gratuitous photo of beautiful horse with better hair than most women I know.