Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chef Megan Ketover's Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Chocolate Cardamom Sauce

Last weekend I had the pleasure of tasting a seasonal specialty by Just Desserts 2 contestant Megan Ketover which she demo’d at the Cincinnati Chocolate Festival: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with brown sugar marshmallow buttercream and chocolate cardamom sauce. Megan graciously agreed to let me share her recipe with you, below.

I love chocolate with pumpkin, but a pro like Megan, of course, takes things to another level, all the while making it look easy.

Still, I came away with a couple of tips we home cooks could put to use.

1. For a filled dessert like a whoopie pie, Megan likes to add a “surprise” in the middle. She filled pipettes with her chocolate cardamom sauce so each of us at the demo could squeeze some of it into the interior of the confection. A simpler approach, she suggested, is to place some chocolate in the center, then pipe your buttercream around the edge of the whoopies before sandwiching them together. Your guests may be expecting marshmallow cream filling with their eyes, but then they discover the chocolate in the middle.

2. For extra dazzle – and texture – roll the buttercream edge of the whoopie pies in chocolate sprinkles, as Megan did with hers.

Megan also adorned hers with the logo of Cincinnati’s Netherland Plaza (the Hilton hotel where she is pastry chef for Orchids restaurant) in edible chocolate form, but that trick is probably best left to the professionals, who prepare trays of these things ahead :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Brown Sugar Buttercream Recipe, by Chef Megan Ketover

Pumpkin whoopie pies

12 oz butter, softened, unsalted
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger, ground
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy. Add egg and mix until light and creamy. Add pumpkin and mix until combined. Add pumpkin and mix till combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, spices and baking soda and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pipe or scoop onto sheet pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set and light golden brown. Allow to cool, and then fill with the brown sugar frosting, sandwiching two cookies together.

Brown sugar frosting

3 1/3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup pasteurized egg whites
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups unsalted butter, cubed and softened

Combine the brown sugar and egg whites over a double boiler and whisk together constantly until sugar dissolves, and mixture is warm, but not hot, about 8 minutes. Sugar will all be dissolved. Put mixture into the bowl of a standing mixture and whip until a stiff meringue forms and mixture is room temperature, about 10 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add one piece of the butter at a time. When all the butter is added, beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract. The icing should be refrigerated after filling whoopie pies.

I wish I had Megan’s recipe for her chocolate cardamom sauce, which was absolutely spectacular. For now I’m content with my new-found knowledge that, personally, I like chocolate better with cardamom than with too much cinnamon.

Thanks, Megan! And Happy Halloween to everyone from the team at All Top Chef!

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Conference Call with Tom and Padma

I recently participated in a conference call with Tom and Padma during which I learned all sorts of things about the upcoming season of Top Chef. And that Padma is quite chatty.

For example, there was talk about the Webisodes that will be up on this season. Not just videos of random goings-on in the sequester house, but an actual competition for eliminated cheftestants. They'll be going head to head and the last man standing will get to re-enter the competition.

According to Tom:

"it addresses the person whom the viewer thinks got a raw deal, or maybe they were more talented and they were kicked out too soon. I can think back to Trey, who was kicked out sort of in the middle of the competition for Restaurant Wars. He made a series of bad dishes but everybody thought that we should have given him a break because he had competed and done well earlier in some of the earlier episodes. And so what this does is gives that person who gets kicked out early because, again, we judge on that dish and that's it. It's not a cumulative event, so if you make a bad dish - you could win five in a row - if you make a bad dish, the worst dish, you're gone. And so it gives that person the opportunity to get back in."

If you haven't figured it out already, there will be a "mass elimination" in the first episode. They're starting off with 29 contestants and narrowing the field down to 16 pretty much right away.

Tom: "...this whole idea that you have to cook yourself into the competition, that's kind of what we were going for versus just through interviews and resumes... because sometimes you get a clunker. You have somebody whose resume may look great - I look at their resumes when we're down to about 20 contestants - you look at some of them and go, 'wow this person is going to be great!' and they turn out to be terrible. And so it was a way to cook yourself into the competition. There were some people who we were led to believe would have been great contestants, really strong cooks, and they weren't good at all."

Then there were lots of questions about Texas stereotypes. When I think of Texas stereotypes, I think of women with big hair and bigger jewelry, but what does that have to do with food? Tom inquired as to whether one questioner meant Rick Perry-style stereotypes, which made me chuckle, but again...that's a stereotype that has nothing to do with food. It seemed like the Texas journalists were perhaps a bit too touchy about the whole thing.

Tom: " know what, we played the stereotypes everywhere we go. It's not only in Texas. We do it in New York, we did it in San Francisco, we did it in - listen if we shoot it in Seattle you know we're going to be throwing salmon somewhere."

Padma: "...he's right. Look, I live in New York City and I can't remember the last time that I went to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island. But when we were in New York, you bet your butt we were at Ellis Island because that's a landmark of New York. I grew up in this city. And if I had gotten here years ago then I would have been at Ellis Island. But those are the highlights of the city. I mean we've done this everywhere."

There was also chatter about eating habits, how Padma gains 10-15 lbs per season and has a wardrobe of bigger-sized clothes to accommodate her growth. She apparently starts out at a record low weight this season, so it will be interesting to see if we actually notice that she looks bigger by the end of the run. She also admits that they all hit the myriad of snacky foods that are always on the set - M&Ms, etc.

Nice to know they're human. :)

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Top Recipe - Chris Hanmer's Bon Bon, Coffee Infused Ganache, Caramel

Bon Bon - Coffee Infused Ganache, Caramel

250 grams sugar
50 grams glucose
100 grams butter, salted
150 grams cream
1 vanilla bean

Coffee Ganache:
500 grams cream
100 grams coffee beans
10 grams coffee flavor
600 grams 64% chocolate
50 grams glucose
50 grams butter

1. Warm the cream with the vanilla bean
2. Make a caramel by heating together the sugar and the glucose.
3. Add the butter to the caramel them slowly add the cream. Mix well and strain out the vanilla bean.
4. Cool to 88 Fahrenheit and fill into mold half way

Coffee Ganache:
1. Warm cream with the coffee beans and infuse for 15 minutes
2. Reheat cream and coffee. Add coffee flavor and strain over the chocolate
3. Add the glucose and mix
4. Cool the mixture to 95 degrees Fahrenheit add the soft butter
5. Let ganache cool to 88 F and fill on the top of the caramel than is already in the mold
6. Warm cream and pour over chocolate. Add butter and heat to 88 degrees Fahrenheit and fill on top of mold with caramel.


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Friday, October 28, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Champion, Chris Hanmer

Chef Chris talks about his experience on the show as well as about his plans for the future.

Chris owns and operates The School of Pastry Design in Las Vegas.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Chris!

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Bravo Exit Interview - Matthew Petersen

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Bravo Exit Interview - Sally Camacho

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Finalist, Matthew Petersen

Chef Matthew Petersen talks about his experience on the Bravo show.

Matthew is the Executive pastry Chef at CityZen restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington DC.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Matthew.

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Chef Chris Hanmer is Top Chef!

Congratulations to Chef Hanmer for winning the title of Top Chef! His showpiece, bon bons, and plated dessert stole the show in the finale, and he's taking home $100K!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Hanmer. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Finale

This week's episode was the big finale between Chefs Sally Camacho, Matthew Petersen, and Chris Hanmer. Their challenge du jour was to create a dessert table featuring a showpiece, bonbons, bread, an entremet, and a plated dessert that would represent a special person in their lives.

Pastry Kings Jacques Torres, Sebastien Cannone, and Stephane Treand served as mentors to the pastrycheftestants as they prepped their desserts on Day One. On Day Two, the formerly eliminated pastrycheftestants were brought back to act as sous chefs, with each finalist getting two. After drawing cookies for the first helper, the finalists were allowed to choose their second helper. In the end, we had Team Chris with helpers Rebecca and Amanda, Team Matthew with helpers Megan and Carlos, and Team Sally with helpers Vanarin and Orlando.

Because Sally was weakest in the showpiece department, she left the work up to Orlando, who frankly didn't want to be helping her or either of the other two. Chris of course is showpiece king so he happily made his own, as did Matthew, who decided to make his primarily of pulled sugar because the other two were doing chocolate. Not that pulled sugar was one of his strong suits, mind you....

The chefs first presented their dessert tables to the judges, who included sundry pastry folks Jordan Kahn, Hasty Torres, Valerie Gordon, Jacquy Pfeiffer, and Ludo Lefevbre, as well as regulars Dannielle Kyrillos and Hubert Keller.

After presenting their tables, the chefs go back to the kitchen to finish their plated desserts. The diners seem to have mostly complimentary things to say, but then they get to Judges' Table where we find that the race is between Chris and Sally.

Matthew's best item was his bon bon, flavored with key lime and speculoos. Both Dannielle and Gail claim that this was the first time they heard the word speculoos, which makes me think they need to have their foodie credentials taken away. Guess they've never bothered to try the Waffles and Dinges truck in New York, which offers speculoos spread as a topping. And I'm pretty sure I've seen a recipe for them (or the Dutch version, speculaas) in just about every cookie cookbook I've ever owned, particularly those specializing in holiday cookies, as they are customarily eaten on St. Nicholas Eve (Dec 5 or 6).


Chris wins.

I'm guessing that the main reason Chris won out over Sally was that she didn't make her own showpiece; the judges seemed really enamored of her desserts otherwise, making the competition really close. Did you think that was the right decision?

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Finale Previews

*FINALE* BRAVO's Top Chef Just Desserts, It's down to the final three and the competitors that are left are prepared to fight for the $100,000 prize and title of Top Chef. With the last challenge in their sights, the finalists think about what brought them to the competition and why it's so important that they win. Fierce competitor Chris Hanmer thinks about his wife and baby that he left behind in order to chase his dream. Will all the hard work pay off, making it worth the time? Which pastrycheftestant will be named Top Chef and who will go home defeated? Find out tonight, 10/26, @ 10/9c!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Just Desserts 2.9

Picktainment on the challenge: "Anyways, the chefs will be creating a dessert inspired by an international cuisine. Chris picks France, Orlando picks Spain, Matthew takes Italian, and Sally (who worked in Miami for a while) picks Cuba. They must create a dessert that looks like an iconic savory dish from one their country."

TWOP on culinary icons: "The chefs all look like they want to die as Gail adds that they have a whole panel of chefs waiting to judge their dessert on increasingly bizarre unattainable and constantly shifting standards. Orlando is in an extra tizzy because his culinary icon Iron Chef Cat Cora is on the panel! He is obviously totally reading that off a teleprompter because NO ONE has Iron Chef Cat Cora as a culinary icon."

CultureMob on Johnny needs a drink: "Johnny shows up in the kitchen, and you know that he’s pissed Gail didn’t tell him about drinks in time for him to get out of this. He immediately starts taking it out on the chefs, shooting down Chris’ idea to make his dessert look like beef wellington with a terse 'Isn’t beef wellington English?' A quick Wikipedia search reveals that no one’s really sure where it comes from, but I’ll go with Johnny on this. Johnny is more accepting of Matthew’s idea to re-create manicotti, which is undisputedly Italian, so instead goes the old 'man, you must be feeling a LOT of PRESSURE! Do you think you’re going to be in the finale? DO YOU??' route. He also can’t shoot Orlando’s paella idea down, so he continues his tour of terror and asks Orlando who he’s threatened by, forcing Orlando to contemplate everyone else’s dish instead of his own. Insidious, Iuzzini. Sally’s up, and when she reveals that she hasn’t decided which route to go down yet, Johnny pounces. 'Are you tired? Are you stressed out?' he asks, clearly hoping to incite a nervous breakdown. 'Tell me what you’re going to do right…' he pauses, '…to make sure your dessert is better than anyone else’s.' Johnny’s a good mean girl. 'You don’t even have a plan!' he states, relentlessly. 'You’ve only got an hour and a half left!' Don’t keep Johnny away from the cocktails again, Gail. He gets angry."

Eater on "salads": "Sally’s Cuban sandwich is awfully impressive looking, especially for being so indecisive for most of the challenge. Cream cheese and pineapple makes us think of things our grandmothers made with Jell-O and canned fruit cocktail (heavy syrup, of course). We gag a bit at the thought of the combination, but the judges mustn’t have had such a grandmother and thus no such association — so they dig it okay."

Jordan Baker on winning: "They call the chefs back, and Cat announces that the winner of this challenge is… Sally. Boooo. She’s happy to have finally won a challenge. Matthew gently and handsomely says 'I knew it was you' and hugs her. Oh, god, I bet his hugs are so good. I bet they’re like wearing a Snuggie made of cotton candy and dreams."

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Voltaggio Brothers Kentucky Arena Show and Book Pre-Premiere

It’s been two years since Michael and Bryan Voltaggio finished 1st and 2nd on Season 6 of Top Chef. Since then, they’ve been working to “brand” themselves, they’ve entered into a partnership with Williams-Sonoma, Michael’s long-awaited LA restaurant “ink.” has finally opened its doors (along with his surprise lunchery, “ink. sack”), and the brothers’ first cookbook, a collaboration titled Volt ink.combining the names of both their restaurants, hits bookstores tomorrow.

Prior to the official release date, however, the tattooed twosome did a couple of promotional events, including an appearance last week at Harry Grove Stadium in their hometown of Frederick, Maryland, complete with a charity kickball game, live bands, and the Voltaggios’ take on ballpark food. A week earlier, I had the chance to check out the brothers – and their book’s pre-premiere – in Lexington, Kentucky, at another sizable venue, Rupp Arena. Here’s my report.

As headliners for the third annual Incredible Food Show sponsored by Kentucky Proud (previous years’ celebrity chefs were Bobby Flay and Giada DeLaurentiis), Bryan and Michael did two demonstrations in the vast space that hosts University of Kentucky Wildcats home basketball games. (If you know anything about Kentucky, or sports, you may know that UK fans take their basketball very seriously.) The chance to see the Voltaggios perform was included in the $15 regular admission price to the food show, which also featured more than 100 local foods vendors giving out samples and a wide array of demos and seminars (more about it here on my blog, Eggplant to Go). A $30 ticket to the event qualified you for VIP seating for the duo’s demo, but I stuck with the lower priced admission.

Stacks of advance copies of Volt ink. were on hand for purchase, and the siblings’ schedule allowed one hour for autographing, pursuant to these guidelines.

I have no idea whether the Voltaggios themselves, the show organizers, or sponsor Joseph-Beth Booksellers were behind these caveats, but I was a tad put off. I’m not good in crowds to begin with, and I certainly didn’t want to make the required on-site purchase of the $40 book (it’s less than $25 on Amazon) only to endure a crush of people and find myself one of those who did not get her copy autographed.

Curiosity couldn’t keep me away, however, so I wandered up to the book-signing area to observe. The line wasn’t too long, and those waiting for their books to be signed were quite polite. I even managed to snap a couple of photos of the celebrity authors from the sidelines. Yes, Bryan does occasionally crack a smile.

Michael, not so much.

I meandered through the vendor aisles for some more local foods samples, returning before the allotted autographing hour was up to find no one left in line. In fact, one of the Barnes & Noble folks brought a stack of unpurchased books to the table so the brothers could continue to autograph and, uh, look busy? A gentleman next to me asked if there was still time to purchase a book and get it signed. Assured there was, he headed to buy one, and I finally decided to bite too. Although I could have requested they sign the book “To Eggy,” I opted for a generic autograph, thinking perhaps I’d use it as a blog giveaway. (Sorry, once I had it in my hands, I decided to keep it.)

My book purchase also bought me the opportunity to actually speak to the Voltaggios. I was so not expecting this that I came with no prepared questions and just asked a couple things off the top of my head. “How excited are to have ink. finally open?”

Michael looked as his watch and said, “Actually, it’s really hard not being there right now.” During the afternoon arena demonstration he also mentioned that his restaurant was only 11 days old, as an anxious papa would speak of a newborn.

Since Bryan works on the east coast and Michael on the west coast, I asked how the Voltaggios came to participate in this event in the middle of the country. I found myself saying (yes, in my out-loud voice), “It’s a far cry from shilling for Domino’s.”

Michael answered this question too, after a pause. “We get asked to do a lot of things. And we turn down a lot. We liked that the emphasis here is on local food, which is very important to us.” He paused again. “Actually, Domino’s approached me . . . I think Fabio took that one.” I smiled and this time refrained from saying anything in my out-loud voice.

Doors to the arena opened an hour before each of the Voltaggio Brothers’ shows. I’d forgone their 11:00 a.m. performance to watch a smaller presentation on heritage meats. It was now closing in on 2:30, so I entered Rupp to select a seat for the 3:00 show, greeted by a soundtrack that reminded me of the pre-show warm-up for Anthony Bourdain except that it included Sheryl Crow and Bruce Hornsby. (I’m guessing this is not what you’d hear in the kitchen of either Volt or ink.) I could have grabbed a seat in the front row of the non-VIP upper section, but moved back a row to avoid the guard rail in my line of vision for snapping photos. As I settled in, I saw at least three cameras poised to project the show onto large-screen monitors flanking the stage and smaller flat-screens positioned up front for those in the VIP seats. A fair number of seats in the closer, $30 section filled by the time soundtrack quieted and the demo started, but plenty in the massive venue remained vacant.

I leafed through my copy of Volt ink., waiting for the show to begin. The book is organized around “families” of ingredients, reminding you, of course, that Michael and Bryan are family. The color photos on the openers of each chapter are spare and striking.

The book is also filled with superb black and white photos, and the design and typography are clean and deliberate, like the authors and their food. In a previous life I worked in publishing, and I lust after the high-end production values of this book. This is a book you want to hold in your hands, savoring each page as you turn it.

Whether you ever make one of these dishes in your own kitchen is another matter. But after seeing how the book was referenced in the afternoon’s demo, I realize there are solid tips even a humble home cook like myself could make use of. And the brothers’ headnotes to their respective recipes give you a glimpse into their creative process, whose roots runner much deeper than merely composing an attractive plate.

At last the Voltaggio show began, and the brothers walked us through their creation of an edible garden on a plate. They said they’d arrived in Lexington at 9:00 the previous night and asked show organizers to provide them with a “mystery basket” of local ingredients from which they would take inspiration for their demo. (Somehow Bryan also managed to buy a Vitamix at a local Williams-Sonoma Friday night after 9:00 p.m., or so they suggested.)

To start their edible plated garden, Bryan made “clay” from roasted parsnips pureed with dates in that Vitamix.

On top of the clay went Michael’s “dirt,” a crumbled streusel of almond flour, cocoa, cardamom, coffee, and butter baked in the oven along the lines of this recipe from Volt ink.

Utilizing more of the parsnip, Bryan created “bark” from the peel by frying it in hot oil and plating it as though it were a fallen tree. Parsnip bark serves as the base of this dish in their book.

Next, Michael created black sesame cake “rocks.” All you do is put your cake batter into a whip cream canister, whoosh it into a paper cup you’ve sprayed with vegetable oil and poked with a few holes into, then pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds.

My notes are hard to decipher about which garden elements the next few components were supposed to resemble. But they continued the Voltaggios’ theme of making use every element of the produce you’re working with and showcased the brothers’ unusual techniques for preserving food, extracting maximum flavor, and creating presentations with undeniable wow factor.

For instance, Michael made a vegetable “paper” by putting roasted red pepper puree into a food dehydrator until it takes on a jerky-like consistency, “like a red-pepper fruit roll-up.” He then made red dots from the paper with the use of a hole puncher.

And here’s a fun idea. Blanch and dehydrate broccoli florets (you can dry them in the oven if you don't have food dehydrator), then cook them in hot oil until they pop like popcorn.

“Charred” is the new “caramelized” or “roasted,” at least according to the Voltaggios.
To make “ash” for their edible garden plate, they roasted oranges and leek tops until blackened, which can then be steeped to make a fragrant oil, blended into an ash puree, or turned into a flavored salt. They suggested using the oil to augment roasted flavor in roasted – and non-roasted – vegetables. (Burnt flavors seem to be something Michael is especially interested in experimenting with these days. Click here to see the brothers’ recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon, where Michael made burnt wood ice cream.)

They also created a grass-evoking combination of kale and swiss chard by vacuum sealing them in a food-saver bag with olive oil until they become tender, even though they are still raw.

To be fair, although a number of these techniques are described in their cookbook as using appliances sold by Williams-Sonoma (whose partnership helped Volt ink. turn out to be the stunning book it is), during the demo the brothers really tried to make them accessible to the lay (or laid off?) crowd by mentioning similar gadgets available at, say, Wal-Mart.

To create another component, “gazpacho water,” they blenderized cucumber and tomato (and probably a few more ingredients I forgot to note), brought it to a boil, then strained it through a simple coffee filter until the mixture separates and gives off a clear liquid tasting of the essence of gazpacho.

Michael mentioned he is not a fan of spicy foods but has found a way to take the heat out of jalapenos and radishes while still retaining their essential flavor. Soak them in ice water for two hours, a trick that can work to remove the earthy flavor of beets, too.

As much as these inventive chefs like to play with food, they’re dead serious about trying to use every part of the vegetable “to honor the hard work of the farmers who grew them,” as Michael put it. A root-to-stem counterpart to nose-to-tail cooking, if you will.

For instance, got chard stems? Try quick-pickling them in a cup of vinegar, half a cup of water, some sugar and salt; bring to a boil, then let cool on the counter. Another tip I picked up during that segment: As much as even we home cooks are accustomed to using salt and pepper to adjust seasonings, sometimes what it takes to bring out the best flavor in a dish is to add a pinch of sugar.

For the big finish, they pulled out the liquid nitrogen (which they quipped could be coming to your nearby Wal-Mart next year). As they Vitamixed a combination of discarded veggie tops, oil, garlic, and vinegar, Michael mentioned something about Hudson Valley, leaving the audience uncertain. Bryan came to the rescue: “No, Hidden Valley,” he explained, as they proceeded to make ranch dressing “snow” for their edible garden. Finally, a glimmer of understanding from the crowd.

After their demo, the Voltaggios also did a brief Q+A. One audience member asked if there might ever be a match-up between [Food Network’s] Iron Chef and [Bravo’s] Top Chef contestants. Michael said he found that hard to imagine given how each network wants to protect its brand. But he did mention the Voltaggio Brothers have a Thanksgiving show coming up on the Cooking Channel. (It starts November 6 and will be in heavy rotation until the holiday.)

And then there was a proud and concerned mother who stood up and spoke into the microphone. “After everything I have told my son about going to college and getting a degree, you undid it in one day.” Michael looked abashed, apparently knowing full well which young man he’d spoken to earlier in the day this woman was referring to. He tried to explain: “Your son is already working. He’s already working in this industry. That’s huge.” Older brother Bryan stepped in to smooth the waters, saying, “I know where you’re coming from. Michael and I have each gotten where we are in our careers on different roads. I went the culinary school route and Michael learned on the job by working with some very talented chefs.” At the end of the exchange, Michael said, in front of God and everybody there in Rupp Arena, “Ma’am, I would hire your son.”

Whether that comes to pass, and however things play out as the Voltaggios promote Volt ink. across the rest of country, that comment brought the house down in Kentucky in a way no amount of liquid nitrogen “snow” possibly could.

Hungry for more?

To see the Voltaggios’ finished edible garden demo plate and more, check out this great report on the Incredible Food Show with excellent photos by Kentucky blogger Lori of Fake Food Free.

Another Kentucky blogger, Joyce of Friends Drift Inn, who also writes for the Appalachian News-Express, has a plethora of great coverage, including a back-stage interview, here, here, here, and here.

And here are six tips from the Voltaggios any cook can incorporate.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Top Recipe - Sally Camacho's "Cuban Sandwich with Potato Salad & Plantain Chips" Cream Cheese Mousse, Passion Fruit Mustard and Strawberry Caramel

Ok, so maybe this recipe has too many components and special ingredients for a home cook, but I thought it was interesting from an educational standpoint.

"Cuban Sandwich with Potato Salad & Plantain Chips" Cream Cheese Mousse, Passion Fruit Mustard and Strawberry Caramel

Cuban Sandwich:
“Cuban Bread” – Brioche
“Mustard” – Passion Fruit Fluid Gel
“Ham” – Strawberry Caramel
“Pork” – Cream Cheese Mousse
“Cheese” – Flexible White Chocolate
“Pickles” – Compressed Pineapple

“Cuban Bread” – Brioche:
25 grams whole milk
396 grams whole eggs
28 grams fresh yeast
75 grams sugar
660 grams bread flour
14 grams salt
800 grams butter, cold and cut into large dice

“Mustard” – Passion Fruit Fluid Gel:
250 grams passionfruit puree
70 grams sugar
3 grams agar
2 grams sea salt

“Ham” – Strawberry Caramel:
50 grams sugar
140 grams strawberry puree
140 grams heavy cream
10 grams sugar
3 grams agar
2 grams gelatin sheets, bloomed
2 drops red food coloring

“Pork” – Cream Cheese Mousse:
550 grams cream cheese
315 grams crème fraiche
10 grams gelatin, bloomed
2 lemons, juiced and zested
75 grams water
250 grams sugar
160 grams yolks, pasteurized
570 grams heavy cream, soft whipped, kept cold
Ground feuillitine, as needed

“Cheese” – Flexible White Chocolate:
25 grams water
50 grams Sorbitol
1.5 grams agar
25 grams glucose
450 grams heavy cream
1 gelatin sheet, bloomed
200 grams white chocolate
2 grams sea salt

“Pickles” – Compressed Pineapple:
1/4 each of a pineapple
1 each vanilla bean, scraped
10 grams sugar
1 gram citric acid
2 grams fleur de sel
Brown and green food coloring, as needed

Plantain Chips:
10 limes, zested
2 grams citric acid
50 grams muscovado sugar
8 grams sea salt
20 grams tapioca maltodextrin
3 under ripe plantains, sliced
Oil, for frying

“Potato” Salad:
2 Asian pears, small dice
1/4 pineapple, small dice
2 Granny Smith apples, brunoise
2 vanilla beans
3 ounces fromage blanc
3 ounces yogurt
3 ounces honey

“Cuban Bread” – Brioche
1. Place milk, eggs and yeast in the electric mixer with hook attachment. Mix on speed 1 to partially dissolve. Add sugar and flour and mix on speed 1 until dough comes together. Add salt and butter. Turn to speed 2 and mix until slapping noise is heard. Check elasticity of dough with window test.

2. Place dough in refrigerator overnight.

3. The next day, on a sheeter, roll brioche to #4. Cut dough in 3” x 4 1/2” rectangles. Place on a sheet tray. Brush with egg and sprinkle with Maldon salt. Proof in a proof box for one hour. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until brown and done.

“Mustard” – Passion Fruit Fluid Gel
1. In a small saucepot, place passion fruit puree. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, agar, and salt. Sprinkle the agar mixture over puree. Whisk to combine. Turn on medium heat.

2. Allow to come to a continuous boil for one minute. Pour onto Anolon sheet tray to cool and set in the refrigerator.

3. Once set, place gel into blender and blend on high until smooth and no lumps. Set aside.

“Ham” – Strawberry Caramel
1. In a small saucepot, on low heat, combine strawberry puree and heave cream. Hear to scald and keep warm.

2. In a medium saucepot, on high heat, make a dry caramel with the sugar by adding 1 tablespoon at a time until the sugar caramelizes.

3. Once the sugar is carmelized, break it by adding the hot strawberry and cream mixture. Cook on low hear to dissolve caramel.

4. In a small bowl, combine sugar and agar. Sprinkle misture over caramel and whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a full boil for 10 seconds and remove from heat.

5. Add gelatin and food coloring. Stir to combine.

6. Pour onto Anolon, nonstick pan, thick so it is the thickness of ham. Place in fridge and set for an hour.

“Pork” – Cream Cheese Mousse
1. Place cream cheese in electric mixing bowl with whip attachment. Whip to smooth. Add crème fraiche and scrape bowl all the way to the dimple.

2. Place juice, zest, and gelatin in microwave safe container. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, just to melt gelatin.

3. Add melted gelatin mixture to cream cheese mixture. Whip to combine. Scrape and whip again to mix well. Set aside at room temperature.

4. Place water and sugar in a small saucepot on medium heat.

5. Meanwhile place yolks in electric mixer with whip attachment. Whisk on medium speed.

6. Bring sugar water to 115 degrees Celsius.

7. Stream hot sugar into mixer while whisking the yolks. Make sure to pour along the side of the bowl and not into the whisk, or you will get unwanted sugar threads.

8. Continue to whip yolks and sugar to light, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Once mixture is cooled to about 32-34 degrees Celsius, fold yolk mixture with cream cheese mixture to incorporate.

9. Last, fold in cold, soft cream. Fold to combine.

10. Pour mousse into frame with acetate lined straight sheet tray. Spread to evenly distribute mousse. Cover mousse with feullitine all over mousse, both sides.

11. Once frozen, cut into 3-inch x 4 1/2- inch rectangles. Use frozen when building sandwich.

“Cheese” – Flexible White Chocolate
1. In a medium saucepot, combine water, Sorbitol, agar, glucose, and cream. Place on medium heat, bring to a full boil and turn off heat. Pour over chocolate, bloomed gelatin, and salt. Allow to sit for 2 minutes to melt chocolate. Burmix to smooth. Then pour onto acetate lined sheet tray and place in refrigerator to chill and set.

“Pickles” – Compressed Pineapple
1. Take off core of pineapple, cut slices 1/4” thick of the pineapple. In a bowl, place all ingredients and toss to coat pineapple.

2. Add green and a little brown food color to achieve the color of a pickle. Place in a Cryovac bag and Cryovac it.

“Potato” Salad
1. Cut and scrape seeds from vanilla bean. In a bowl, mix vanilla and its beans, fromage blanc, yogurt and honey.

2. Add Asian pear, pineapple, and granny smith apples. Toss with yogurt dressing.

3. Place in a ramekin for service.

Plantain Chips
1. Slice plantains on slicer to get 1/8-inch thick slices.

2. Fry in 350 degree Fahrenheit oil until crisp and light brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

3. In a spice grinder, place lime zest, citric acid sugar, salt and tapioca maltodextrin. Grind until fine.

4. Toss plantains in sugar mixture.


1. Cut brioche in half to make the sandwich. Spread “mustard” (passion fruit fluid gel onto both sides of the brioche. Place pieces of “pickles” (compressed pineapple) on one side of brioche. Cut a rectangle of “pork” (cream cheese mousse) and place on top of “pickles” (compressed pineapple). Cut slices of “ham” (strawberry caramel) and place on top of “pork” (cream cheese mousse). Then dot “ham” (strawberry caramel) with “cheese” (flexible white chocolate). Place other side of brioche on top to make a sandwich.

2. Wrap sandwich in sandwich parchment paper and cut in half on a diagonal line. Place sandwich on plate and place ramekin of “potato” salad on plate and handful of the plantain chips.


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Friday, October 21, 2011

TC News and Information 10.21.11 - Lee Anne Wong on Iron Chef Sunday and more Season 1 News!

Yes, indeed, Lee Anne Wong goes toque-to-toque with Marc Forgione on Iron Chef America this Sunday (10/23/11) at 10:00 Eastern on the Food Network.

Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle will open his third restaurant, Marrow, in Brooklyn, reports the NY Times.

The Boston Globe has a terrific in-depth piece about Tiffani Faison, who finished second on Season 1 and will open her new BBQ restaurant, Sweet Cheeks, in Boston next month.

And the season's other finalist, Dave Martin, will open The Meatball Factory next week in NYC's East Village, says Eater. Turducken meatballs, anyone?

Congrats to all!

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All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Orlando Santos

Chef Orlando talks about his experience on the Bravo Show.

Click here for Orlando's Chocolate Treasures website.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Orlando.

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Bravo Exit Interview - Orlando Santos

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Congratulations, Chef Sally Camacho

With only an hour and a half to finish her prep, Sally still had no idea which iconic Cuban dish she'd be using as a disguise for her dessert. But the dish she did choose - the Cubano sandwich - ended up getting her a solo Elimination Challenge win.

We knew that loser edit she was getting for most of the episode meant exactly the opposite. Congrats, Chef, for making it to the finale!

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Camacho. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Orlando Santos

This week's challenge was tough, and Chef Santos turned out a great faux paella. Mostly. But at this stage in the competition, every little problem turns out to be a big one, and the texture of his rice kept him out of the finale.

Chef Orlando Santos made it far in the competition, but probably not as far as he wanted. We wish him nothing but success in the future.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Santos. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 9

This week, we skipped the formalities of a Quickfire Challenge and jumped right into the Elimination. For no good reason, Chef Suzanne Goin is in the kitchen with Gail to announce the challenge: each of the four remaining pastrycheftestants must prepare a dessert disguised as an iconic dish from a particular ethnic cuisine.

Chris picked France, so he goes with Beef Wellington. Johnny has to wonder why he has chosen a British dish, but it obviously has roots in France so fine. (Puff pastry and duxelles? What's not French about that?) Orlando chose Spain and works on a faux paella. Matthew wisely chose Italian, which allows him the relative ease of mocking up a pasta dish like manicotti. And finally, Sally is stuck with her choice of Cuba, which gives her a hard time. Eventually she decides to play with a Cuban sandwich.

The judges for this contest are random: former Top Chef Masters competitors Michael Cimarusti and John Sedlar, restaurateur Sang Yoon, Suzanne Goin, Hubert Keller, and special guest chef Cat Cora. Orlando loooooves Cat Cora for some reason and pees his pants a little at the thought of her judging his food.

So they present their disguised desserts and lots of nice things are said at the table. But at Judges' Table, Chris gets dinged for not making his own puff pastry, Matt for not using tomatoes like he said he would, Orlando for his fluffy, broken, rice-cooker-cooked rice, and Sally's squishy white mousse. However, Sally's dish was pretty convincing otherwise, and her side dish of "potato salad" was a smash hit, so she got the win. And Orlando gets to go home.

Why he didn't make the very logical rice pudding for paella, we'll never know.

What did you think? Are you happy with the final three? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TC News and Information 10.19.11 - TC Texas Edition

My San Antonio has seen rough cuts of the first episodes of the upcoming season and offers a sneak peek on what to expect.

What's that about the State of Texas paying $400,000 and San Antonio paying $200,000 to be on the show, you say? More details here, here, and here. Austin and Dallas, the other cities where TC: Texas was filmed, claim they didn't pay to play. But the whole thing makes you wonder if $$ wasn't the reason Houston was left out of the season. On top of that, TC production company The Magical Elves has sued to keep documents from being released to the public, including “proposals, correspondence and related documents exchanged in the course of confidential negotiations,” which it claims would cause “substantial competitive injury” if made public. So far, at least it doesn't sound like there's a threat the new season won't make its Nov. 2 premiere (unlike a certain other nasty lawsuit involving Project Runway).

Guess the money is bigger in Texas too. Will you be watching?

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A Message from Top Chef Richard Blais

On November 6, I will be running in the world-renowned ING NYC Marathon to support the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in efforts to address one of the nation’s leading public health threats—childhood obesity. I will be leading a team of five first-time marathoners as a part of “Team Healthier Generation”.Our team has committed to raising $50,000. I would greatly appreciate any contribution your company is able to make that will help me achieve this goal. All donations are tax deductible and will go directly to the Alliance to combat childhood obesity both locally and across the country.

Nearly 1 in 3 kids is already overweight or obese and today’s generation could be the first to liveshorter lives than their parents. By supporting more than 12,000 schools nationwide and impacting the lives of more than seven million students, the Alliance, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, is leading the charge in the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic.

In just a few years, the Alliance has made a tremendous impact in Georgia through its Healthy Schools Program, in which more than 425 of our local schools are participating. The program, which is provided free of charge by the Alliance, leads schools through a step-by-step process to transform their schools into healthier places for students to learn and grow. Seventeen of our schools in Georgia earned National Recognition Awards from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for their work creating healthier environments for students and staff.

To support me in the ING NYC Marathon, please visit my personal fundraising web page at You will not only be able to make an online donation here; you will also be able to track my progress and be recognized for your gift. If you prefer, you may mail your support directly to me instead at 866 Monroe Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30308. Payment can be made out to Alliance for a Healthier Generation (memo field: Blais). Please make your contribution by November 6 so that it may be counted toward my goal.

If you would like more information on the Alliance or on how you may support me and “Team Healthier Generation” in the ING NYC Marathon through a local event or sponsorship, please feel free to contact me directly at 404.704.7497.

By supporting the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, YOU become a part of the solution in the fight against the childhood obesity epidemic. Together, we can end childhood obesity and empower kids nationwide to live healthier lives.

Thank you, in advance, for joining me in supporting this very important cause.


Richard Blais

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Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 9 Previews

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Just Desserts 2.8

Eater on Sally’s choice of ingredients: “Sally seems to be doing her ode to corn, whipping up everything she can come up with made out of corn for the judges except ethanol. Vroom vroom!”

Picktainment on Johnny Iuzzini’s outfit: “Let’s spend just a minute discussing how Johnny’s gray chef’s jacket, slicked back hair, and tattoos make him look sort of like a gas station attendant. Do you think that’s what he’s going for or is it an accident? Shouldn’t someone tell him?”

Culture Mob on drama: “Sally does, however, leave her corn pudding in the freezer which is cause for high drama this season. Remember when high drama was whether or not Zac was going to spontaneously combust into a cloud of sequins?”

Jordan Baker on Chris’s phone call home and a 1970s movie reference: “Chris calls his wife and gets caught up on their baby’s heart condition. Her surgery is going to cost upwards of $48,000, which gives him a renewed desire to win. I reallllly hope Bravo and Andy Cohen intend to step in and play benevolent fairy godmother in this situation if he doesn’t win, because otherwise it’s ’70s movie levels of tragic, where Ryan O’Neal plays the handsome pastry chef baking to win enough money to save his daughter’s life and then fails.”

TwoP on Matthew and a 2011 movie reference: “Matthew resolves to redeem himself in Francois' eyes and show that he knows "how to make a good-ass pie." I'm assuming that's what he said, and not good Ass Pie... because that would be an entirely different flavor. Something Minny from The Help would make.”

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Don't Forget to Enter...

...the contest to win an autographed copy of the Voltaggio Brothers' upcoming cookbook, VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers! Today is the last here to enter.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Top Recipe - Matthew Petersen's Fried Caramel Apple Pie & Cinnamon Sablé and Vanilla Ice Cream

Fried Caramel Apple Pie & Cinnamon Sablé and Vanilla Ice Cream

Apple Farce:
10 Granny Smith apples
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla pod
4 ounces butter
1 ounce cornstarch
1 ounce apple juice

500 grams sugar
750 grams heavy cream
1 pinch salt

Apple Compression:
1 liter water
200 grams sugar
4 pieces anise
4 pieces cinnamon
2 vanilla beans
6 apples, sliced

Pie Dough:
900 grams bread flour
60 grams sugar
30 grams salt
500 grams butter, cubed
150 grams Crisco
200 grams water
Oil, for frying

Vanilla Ice Cream:
2 liters whole milk
520 grams heavy cream
175 grams glucose powder
750 grams sugar
8 vanilla pods
15 grams stabilizer
720 grams egg yolk

Cinnamon Sable:
200 grams sugar
200 grams butter
200 grams flour
200 grams almond flour
20 grams cinnamon

Apple Farce:
1. Peel and dice apples.

2. In a large sauté pan, melt butter and then add apples, add sugar and cook until tender. Add spices, salt and vanilla. Cook for two minutes.

3. Mix together cornstarch and apple juice. Thicken farce with slurry and then refrigerate until cool.

1. Caramelize sugar in a large sauce pan. Deglaze with heavy cream and add salt. Cool at room temperature. Reserve.

Apple Compression:
1. Boil everything except apples. Strain and cool. Pour syrup and apples into a vacuum bag. Compress apples in vacuum machine. Refrigerate.

Pie Dough:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar in a KitchenAid. Using the paddle on low, incorporate the Crisco and the butter. Mix just until it starts to come together then add water and mix to combine. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm. Roll 2 millimeter thick and cut 3-inch rounds. Brush with egg wash. Fill with apple farce. Fold in half and press at the seams. Refrigerate. Deep fry to order.

Vanilla Ice Cream:
1. Mix together glucose powder, sugar and stabilizer. Whisk this mix into milk and heavy cream and add vanilla.

2. Over medium flame, cook mixture until it boils. When milk boils together, temper in the egg yolk. Strain through chinois. Place into ice bath and cool overnight.

Cinnamon Sable:
1. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy. Add almond flour and mix in. Add flour and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden.


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Friday, October 14, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Carlos Enriquez

Chef Carlos talks about his experience on the show.

Highlights: Carlos works for Block 16 Hospitality which operates Holstein's in Las Vegas as well as several other restaurants - with plans to expand.

Click here for Carlos's blog.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Carlos!

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Bravo Exit Interview - Carlos Enriquez

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

ATC Love to Carlos Enriquez

Despite winning the Quickfire Challenge with a liquid-nitrogen-cooled pie, this week was really not Chef Carlos' week. His idea of faux hamburgers and french fries for the carnival challenge was terrific, however, the bun proved to be problematic. But he should look on the bright side - he gets to take home the $15,000 he won in two Quickfires.

Chef Enriquez, we're really sorry to see you go. Not only were your desserts amazing, but you were also extremely likeable, and root-for-able. We wish you nothing but the best.

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Enriquez. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Congratulations to Chef Matthew Petersen!

Congrats once again to Chef Matthew Petersen on his second Elimination Challenge win. He more than made up for his one-handed-pie-baking error in the Quickfire by making an apple pie that was clearly a judge- and crowd-favorite. Sometimes it's best to keep things simple, and that really worked in this challenge.

We're down to the Final Four. Will Chef Petersen go all the way?

This post is only for positive comments about Chef Petersen. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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Reactions to Top Chef Just Desserts 2 Episode 8

This week on Top Chef Just Desserts, we had famous French pastry maven Francois Payard guest judging first a pie competition then a carnival. Seems undignified for such a master, non?

In any case, the Quickfire involved making pies - one-handed. Rolling out a crust must be tough with one paw, but the chefs managed, along with chopping plums and whipping cream. Poor Matthew accidentally moved his dish with the hand he wasn't supposed to be using, which disqualified him. Out of the four remaining, Carlos' pie took top honors and a nice little $5,000 prize.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs had to recreate a carnival treat in an upscale way for a fete hosted by Dana Cowin. So there was carny food - where were the carny people? The freaks? Oh...wait...that's why the chefs were there....

Sally chooses to make a caramel corn-inspired dish, which seems a no-brainer since it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I thought, "carnival" along with "I hope there are no clowns." She makes it with a fresh corn pudding, which adds a real element of surprise. Matthew tries pies again, this time with two hands, and creates an apple pie that the judges really enjoy. Orlando tries too hard and interprets "candy apple" as a multi-layered cake that includes...chocolate. Ever had a chocolate candy apple? Um, no. Chris went for a funnel cake ice cream, with funnel cake and some sort of strawberry goo made with agar on the side. I've never eaten funnel cake with strawberries...I'll bet he was thinking fried dough, which is usually offered with a choice of toppings. Carlos, shockingly enough, did not use peanut butter or bananas in his dish, which may or may not have been to his detriment. Instead, he produced a wee little hamburger with churro "fries." While cute as can be, the angelfood bun was soft and sticky and the fries were cold.

Matthew wins and Carlos is sent home.

Did you watch? Did you think Carlos deserved to be sent home? Or maybe Orlando should have gone? or Chris? Please leave a comment!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recap Roundup: Top Chef Just Desserts 2.7

Picktainment on the Quickfire: "They will have to serve their doughnut with coffee, the winner gets $10,000, there is no more immunity, and Johnny arrives so there’s going to be trouble. Turns out, the least favorite doughnut gets eliminated on the spot, making this the most important Quickfire ever. Matthew tries to downplay it by saying that a doughnut is “just fried dough.” What a moron. Doughnuts are life, Matthew."

Eater on Orlando: "Orlando gets his panties all in a knot because of Katzie’s dessert. It’s more of a plated dessert and in his confessional he’s insistent that she HAS TO GO. Orlando, honey, she may have her ups and downs, but how many wins has Katzie pulled so far? Yeah, that’s right. Your wins? Yeah, that’s what we thought. This will be nothing compared to the bigger knot he gets into over the spice of his spiced beignet — it leads to a wonderful little tiff with Johnny about absolutely nothing. You said cardamom. No I didn’t. You said spiced. But not cardamom. Seriously? We’re having this discussion?"

Culture Mob on desperation: "Elimination Challenge! Two teams of three will be creating a magnificent chocolate showpiece and one chocolate dessert from each team member. The teams shake out to Orlando, Carlos and Sally against Katzie and the Bromance Brothers. Then Gail tells them that they will be serving their desserts to the opposite team; now I know the producers are in a tizzy. They’re throwing every reality competition trick in the book to inject some life into this episode. Surprise elimination! Teach challenge! Rip on each other’s work to the judges! They even separate the teams’ work areas so they can’t see what’s going on with each other. They should make them do it while ice-skating too. Orlando and Chris are taking point on each team’s showpiece and are convinced that this is shaping up to be a battle royale between the two of them. If two gladiators enter an arena and you don’t care who wins, does a fight still happen?"

Jordan Baker on teams: "They draw cookies to assign teams. The red team is Matthew, Chris, and Katzie. Chris is worried that Katzie will be the weak link. That’s just absurd – Katzie has two individual wins. Matthew has one individual win. Chris? Has been on winning teams (always with Matthew; once with Katzie as well) but has never had an individual elimination win. Tell me again who the weak link is, pretty boy? Anyway, the Blue team is Orlando, Carlos, and Sally."

TWOP on showpieces: "Everyone oohs and ahhs appreciatively at the showpieces' depth and height and maybe the girth if they are into that sort of thing. Chris' is very tall and wiggly with some chocolate swooping this way and some other chocolate swooping that way and then some white chocolate flowers scattered hither and yon. Orlando's piece tells the tale of chocolate from bean to snack in one glorious twisted chocolate line. It's the chocolate version of some artsy chick your brother is inadvisably dating doing an interpretative dance of the birth story she witnessed. It's not very appetizing, but you could stare for awhile."

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Win a Copy of VOLTink!

The Voltaggio Brothers, Michael and Bryan, have a cookbook coming out very soon - VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers. Minxeats is giving away an autographed copy - all you need to do to win is click here and follow the simple directions. 

Good luck!

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Top Recipe - Sally Camacho's Manjari Caramel Mousse, Spiced Caramel Cream with Passion Fruit Gelée

All the recipes this week were pretty complex, but it might be fun to try the mousse or jelly components of this dish from Sally Camacho.

Manjari Caramel Mousse, Spiced Caramel Cream with Passion Fruit Gelée

Manjari Caramel Mousse:
60 grams sugar
100 grams cream + 250 grams cream (soft and whipped)
60 grams yolks
120 grams Valrhona Manjari chocolate
3 grams gelatin

400 grams water
50 grams sugar
15 grams atomized glucose
2 grams sorbet stabilizer
150 grams Valrhona Manjari chocolate
2 grams gray sea salt

Passion Fruit Jelly:
100 grams passion fruit puree
25 grams water
15 grams sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 grams gelatin sheets (bloomed)

Caramel Cremeux:
1 vanilla bean
200 grams heavy cream
50 grams sugar
40 grams yolks
2 grams gelatin
10 grams Meyer’s rum
1 1/2 grams grey sea salt

Compressed Pineapple:
4 ounces pineapple brunoise
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
2 grams sea salt


Manjari Caramel Mousse:
1. Dry caramelized sugar in a pot. Bring 100 grams cream to scald. Break sugar with cream. Allow to boil to dissolve caramel. Temper in yolks. Add yolks to cream mixture to make anglaise. Pour anglaise over chocolate and bloomed gelatin. Burmix final product.

2. Whip 250 grams cream and fold into chocolate mixture.

1. In a pot bring water, sugar, glucose and stabilizer to a boil. Pour over chocolate and salt. Burmix final product. Disperse into paco jet beakers, allow to freeze. Paco next day.

Passion Fruit Jelly:
1. Place passion fruit, water, sugar and vanilla bean in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add bloomed gelatin and allow to melt. Disperse into fleximold discs. Freeze.

Caramel Cremeux:
1. Make a dry caramel with sugar in a pot, scald cream and vanilla. Break caramel with cream. Temper in yolks and make anglaise. Take off heat, add bloomed gelatin, rum and salt. Burmix to make smooth. Disperse in demisphere fleximold and freeze.

Compressed Pineapple:
1. Combine ingredients and cryovac bag and vacuum.


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Friday, October 7, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Megan Ketover

Chef Megan talks about her experience on the show.

Megan is the executive pastry chef at Orchids at Palm Court in Cincinnati.

(Don't miss The Intuitive Eggplant's review!)

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Megan!

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Bravo Exit Interviews - Megan Ketover and Katzie Guy-Hamilton

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

All Top Chef Interview with "Top Chef Just Desserts" Season 2 Chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton

Katzie talks about her experience on the Bravo show.

She is the executive pastry chef at The Grand Hyatt New York.

Click here for KGH Creative Living.

Click here for the podcast.

Thank you Chef Katzie!

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Congratulations, Blue Team!

Congratulations to the Blue Team of Chefs Carlos Enriquez, Orlando Santos, and Sally Camacho, who wowed the judges with their chocolate creations: a centerpiece celebrating the origins of chocolate and three individual desserts. Even their competition couldn't find bad things to say about their work this week. (Well, not too many bad things.)

This post is for positive comments about Chefs Santos, Enriquez, and Camacho. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Katzie Guy-Hamitlon

It was quite a surprise to see Chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton leave this week, considering she had won two Elimination Challenges in a row not all that long ago. But the judges had problems with her chocolate dessert - or did they listen to the rantings of another pastrycheftestant who wanted to see Katzie gone?

In any case, we're very sorry to see her go. But she's young, and has time to go far in the future. Best of luck to Katzie!

This post is for positive comments about Chef Guy-Hamilton. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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ATC Love to Chef Megan Ketover

This week there was a surprise elimination after the Quickfire Challenge, and the victim this time was Chef Megan Ketover. Her donut just didn't make the grade...well, maybe the donut was ok, but the glaze was far too sticky.

We figured Megan to be a strong contender in this competition and are surprised to see her leave at this point. We wish her lots of luck in her career in the future.

This post is for positive comments about Chef Ketover. If you have anything negative to say, please do so on our Reactions post.

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