Top Chef: Masters

Bravo has announced a new series – Top Chef: Masters. It looks promising, it will pit 24 top chefs, real top chefs, in a format similar to the original series. Food journalist Kelly Choi will serve as the series’ host, and renowned restaurant critic Gael Greene, culinary expert James Oseland, and food critic Jay Rayner will serve as judges. It will be very interesting to see how these chefs handle “Judges Table”. No air date has been set at this time, still, I’m salivating in anticipation.

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Baba Ganoush

Also spelled Baba Ghanoush, Baba Gnush, Babaganoush, among others. A great grazing dish for parties or appetizer.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds (2 to 3 small) firm eggplant
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon
1 lime
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
3 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup pine nuts,
2 bags pita crisps

Prep:

Roast pine nuts at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, turning after 5 minutes. Juice lemon and lime.

Directions:

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

Use fork to thinly prick eggplant. Bake eggplant at 450 degrees until inside is soft, approximately 20 minutes. Cut eggplant in half length-wise. Remove pulp from skin and discard skin. Add pulp to food processor and mix until creamy. Add salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, juice, parsley, and tahini to the eggplant and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste. Plate the mixture in a 2-3 cup bowl. Hand mix the pine nuts in to the mixture. Place bowl on a serving dish and surround with pita crisp.

Use:

Though Baba Ganoush could be made as a side dish or entree, it is more common as an appetizer or dip. Make guest aware that it contains nuts as some people may be allergic.

Variants:

Other types of chips may be substituted for the pita crisp.

Notes:

The three ingredients that are the most difficult to find are the pine nuts, tahini and pita crisp. If you can by the pine nuts in bulk. They are rather expensive and there is no reason to get more than the required amount. The tahini will be found in or near the spices or in a Greek/Mediterranean area of the grocery store. The pita crisp will be found in chip section or rarely with the crackers.

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Root Beer Glaze

Root beer glaze is a simple glaze that I’ve found works well with either chicken or pork. It is extremely simple to make and adds a sweet glaze to your dish.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup root beer.
1 1/2 cub veal stock

Directions:

Simmer the root beer and stock in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat until reduced to 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Approximately 1 hour. The more you reduce it the thicker the glaze.

Use:

Drizzle or brush the glaze on you protein, most commonly chicken or pork.

Variants:

Substitute beef or chicken stock for veal stock
Substitute beef, chicken, or veal broth for a lighter glaze.

Notes:

Veal stock or broth may be difficult to find.

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Pine Nut Encrusted Salmon Steaks

Overview:

I had some extra pine nuts from a recent baba ganoush and came up with the following recipe. WOW – The flavors explode in your mouth.

Ingredients:

2 8 ounce Salmon steaks
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon course ground pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Cooking spray
Lemon
Lime
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Directions:

Pine Nut Encrusted Salmon Steak

Pine Nut Encrusted Salmon Steak

Combine the pine nuts, salt, pepper, oregano and basil in a food processor. Chop until pine nuts are finely chopped. This mixture is very close to a pesto. The mixture should have a paste type texture. Use 2 tablespoons of mixture to coat each salmon steak.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium to large skillet heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the salmon steaks to the skillet pine nut side down. Cook approximately 3 minutes until pine nuts are browned.

Remove salmon steaks and place in an oven safe Pyrex or similar dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes until salmon flakes with a fork.

Plate and garnish with finely chopped parsley and a lemon and a lime wedge.

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Bayou Blast

Overview

I can not take credit for this one. It is found in many of Emeril Lagasse’s recipes by the name of Emeril’s ESSENCE. I normally make batches that are fairly close to the original, but usually add a little twist.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano (oregano powder)
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Prep:

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Use:

Makes enough to fill a regular sized spice jar. I like to use empty McCormick 2.12oz Course Ground Black Pepper jars, for the 2 different pour methods. Store and use as any other spice.

Good for seasoning, beef, pork, fish, chicken or just about anything else.

Variants:

Substitute 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Substitute 1 tablespoon chili powder
Substitute 1 tablespoon curry powder
Substitute 1 tablespoon ground mustard

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