Bread pudding is one of my favorite throw-together, quick and easy recipes. If you have at least these three items on hand, you can make the base pudding: bread (preferably day old and dry), eggs, and milk or heavy cream. It’s also a great go-to because it works for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. It just depends on the extra ingredients you throw in: sweet for breakfast or dessert, savory for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Plus, prep time is ten minutes or less. How great and versatile is that? (more…)

top_chef_logoTonight’s Top Chef doubleheader brings us the “controversial” Top Chef All-Stars reunion episode at 10 p.m. (ET) followed by the premiere of Top Chef Masters season 3 at 11 p.m.

As for the All-Stars reunion, the previews (below) are making it out to be pretty escandalo — but I’m sure it’s a lot of hype (though it will be nice to see all of them one last time). They will, however, be grilling Jamie about her lack of participation and penchant for cutting herself and hiding under tables during the season.
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PS022811 Fresh Fruits #221Here’s a piece I did recently for the Photography Issue for the Tampa newspaper, Creative Loafing, that I work for.

Local freelance food stylist and photographer Andrea Acailawen has learned to blend her love of photography and passion for food into a successful career, bringing food to life through her camera lens.

Working for a Northern California ad agency, she styled products and food for a variety of clients: home goods and kitchenware companies, department store and grocery chains, restaurants, wineries, a cherry grower — even a nut manufacturing plant. Now she’s opened her own photography and styling business in Tampa and is “starting from scratch in a new market.”

It’s not surprising that she ended up in this vocation. Her chef/photographer father taught her how to cook and bought her a camera at the age of 6 for a class field trip: a medium-format Hasselblad (one of those old-school, boxy-looking ones with a single lens and film-winding crank).
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My apologies for skipping my ‘Random’ roundup last week (and pretty much neglecting my blog lately). I was fortunate enough to spend the better part of last week in Key West, taking in the sights, culture and of course, the food. Anyway, since I came home late Thursday and was exhausted, I was in no shape to celebrate St. Patty’s Day which is why all of these Irish-themed recipes are on my list this week. Maybe I should just celebrate a week late, eh? ;-)

Keep an eye out for my Key West food adventures post in the near future!

Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes and articles that have caught my eye this past week; both from the site I run and from some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs.
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top_chef_logo_lgOnly four chefs remain on Top Chef All-Stars and they’re definitely starting to get “in the juice” (whatever that means).

I’m a day late on this post and recording the podcast, as I’ve been in the Caribbean myself (well, close enough) this week and was without access to the Bravo channel. But, not wanting to let down our readers/listeners, I’ve come into work just to throw this together and to make sure you all can rest a little easier this weekend knowing that we didn’t skip out on you this week.

Those preview videos sure have been fooling me, because I swore that the 100-dish “consistency” challenge was supposed to be the Elimination Challenge. Anyway, the chefs had to pair up and make 100 dishes that all looked and tasted the same. After hating on and smack talkin’ the girls, Team Blais-Isabella were the ones with egg on their faces when they lost the challenge. It’s called karma, boys, and she’s a bitch.
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bacon_meatloaf

You know how everyone claims that their mom makes the best meatloaf and no one else’s can compare to it? I would have agreed with that, until I found this recipe for bacon-wrapped meatloaf. The classic comfort dish that is meatloaf and delicious salty bacon combine to make a juicy, meaty, melt-in-your-mouth taste explosion. Hungry yet? Read on.

This version of meatloaf was actually a collaboration and experiment by myself and my guinea pig/willing victim (a.k.a.: boyfriend) one Sunday afternoon. The idea was to make a better version of standard meatloaf, but how? What would elevate it from a simple comfort food to one sexy hunk of meat? And then the idea was born: (more…)

Shortribs 5

Braised beef short ribs are the epitome of “high end” comfort food. They can often be found on restaurant menus, cooked with classical French or Asian flavors and bearing a somewhat hefty price tag. I think many people have the misconception that they’re pricey because they’re technically difficult or labor-intensive to prepare, but those preconceived notions couldn’t be father from the truth.

Yes, at the grocery store beef short ribs aren’t as inexpensive as stew or braising meat, but getting the result of tender, succulent, fall-off-the bone meat is so worth extra cost. And this “fancy” restaurant dish can be prepared right in your own kitchen (culinary degree not required). Making braised short ribs at home is definitely worth the effort, and they are, in fact, pretty effortless to prepare. They even create their own sauce while they cook.

For a twist on this classic dish, I’ve put a Southwestern spin on it, using spices and flavors commonly found in Southwestern cuisine and — my favorite bit — tequila. Serve them on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes or sweet corn polenta (as I’ve done) to soak up the flavorful, gravy-like sauce.
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Update on last week’s ‘Roundup’ post: the short ribs were A-MAZING. I did them with a Mexican/Southwestern twist, with chipotles in Adobo and tequila (among other things). Keep an eye out for the recipe and photo on my blog this week!

Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes and articles that have caught my eye this past week from some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs.
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top_chef_logo_lgIt was a very zany episode of Top Chef All-Stars last night, between the loud, crazy antics of the Sesame Street characters during the Quickfire and then the madness that ensued at the Target lock-in challenge. I was mentally exhausted after watching, to say the least.

The Cookie Quickfire with the Sesame Street characters as judges was fun and lighthearted (except for Dale whose name is never uttered with that phrase). For some reason, Blais just didn’t get that an ice cream blob doesn’t equal “cookie” — in fact, it doesn’t even qualify for “ice cream cookie sandwich status”. I really liked Dale’s use of sweet and salty in his cookie and thought it was a fun take on the challenge (despite his dislike for making cookies). And did anyone else catch Elmo calling Antonia’s brown splooge cookies “cow chips”. Get it? Because “chips” kinda sounds like “sh*t” when you say it really fast.

The Elimination Challenge was like one long Target ad. I liked the concept of cooking using only ingredients and utensils found at Target — but that was about it. They could at least have had a spending limit or challenge to feature Target’s healthy/organic products. And why in the heck was it at 3 a.m.?! Yeah, I get it that they wanted the chefs to have free reign of the store, but c’mon! No wonder Dale’s “stoner food” tomato soup and grilled cheese won — because that’s the only thing you’d want to eat at 3 a.m.
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Remember that beef stew I talked about making two weeks ago in my new cast iron dutch oven? Yeah, we ate it all before I could photograph. It was darn good. Needless to say, I’ll be making it again soon, tweaking the recipe a bit and, of course, sharing it with all of you lovely people.

As for this amorous evening, I’m (well, “we are”) staying in. Why spend the money on dining out when you can whip up a heartfelt, gourmet meal at home? On the menu: Mexican-style braised beef short ribs over cheddar polenta and some sort of tasty green bean dish for a side (fresh ones, of course). As for dessert, I cheated and bought it from a secret supplier with the initials C.F. ;-)

Here are some more fun and delicious-looking recipes and articles that have caught my eye this past week; both from the site I run and from some pretty sweet-looking foodie blogs.

Liquid love: Valentine’s Day cocktails to enhance your amorous efforts – Since tequila happens to be my aqua vitae of choice, here are some fabulous cocktail recipes with tequila as the star ingredient to enhance your amorous efforts — or drown your singleton sorrows in.

My Blue Valentine: The god of love’s role in the discovery of blue cheese – Did you know that the mischievous Ancient Roman deity, Cupid, is legend to be the reason we have blue cheese? Blame it on him and a couple of horny shepherds.

Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle – This Hallmark holiday is a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, and with this easy and elegant recipe you’ll be able to impress your special guest(s) with a swanky-looking final course that you spent practically no time preparing.

Top Chef Podcast – All-Stars Ep. 9: Funny business – Whether you watch the show or not, our review of it is top notch snark and an all-around good time. Listen to us (attempt to) recap this episode and the hilarity that ensues.
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