The Myth of ‘Easy’ Cooking

I write about food for a living. Because of this, I spend more time than the average American surrounded by cooking advice and recipes. I’m also a mother, which means more often than not, when I return from work 15 minutes before bedtime, I end up feeding my 1-year-old son squares of peanut-butter toast because there was nothing in the fridge capable of being transformed into a wholesome, homemade toddler meal in a matter of minutes. Every day, when I head to my office after a nourishing breakfast of smashed blueberries or oatmeal I found stuck to the pan, and open a glossy new cookbook, check my RSS feed, or page through a stack of magazines, I’m confronted by an impenetrable wall of unimaginable cooking projects, just sitting there pretending to be totally reasonable meals. Homemade beef barbacoa tacos. Short-rib potpie. Weekday French toast. Make-ahead coconut cake. They might as well be skyscraper blueprints, so improbable is the possibility that I will begin making my own nut butters, baking my own sandwich bread, or turning that fall farmer’s market bounty into jars of homemade applesauce. #160;

Related Story

Thanksgiving Tales: 92-year old, Chef Leah Chase cooking up a gumbo of greatness

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)- Shes one of the great matriarchs of the Creole cuisine scene in New Orleans.   Were talking about Ms. Leah Chase from Dooky Chases, where shes been cooking creole dishes since the 1940s.

So who better to talk with on Thanksgiving than her about her food and traditions.

News with a Twist Reporter Kenny Lopez tells her Thanksgiving tale.

Thanksgiving is a chefs dream for Ms. Leah Chase at Dooky Chases.

I do turkey, fish, duck, and tutti frutti pork, which is pork with apricot jelly,  she said.

This 92-year old chefs Thanksgiving menu is a gumbo of greatness!

We have to stew the meat, and put chicken meat in there, all that good stuff,  Chase said.

Growing up in the country, Leahs Thanksgivings were never like they are now.

We were so poor.  We didnt even celebrate Thanksgiving when I was a little girl.  Everyone worked on Thanksgiving Day, so it wasnt a big day.  I was so happy when I moved to New Orleans and I found out it was a big day, and everyone cooked a lot of food, she said.

So what does Leah recommend to never cook on Thanksgiving Day?

Please dont cook red beans and rice. It used to be in New Orleans that you only cooked red beans and rice on Mondays, but now visitors want to eat them, so we have to serve them other days, but Ill never serve red beans and rice on a Sunday or on Thanksgiving or on Christmas, she said.

On Thanksgiving, Leahs reflecting on gratitude.

I have so many people to thank.  Ive started writing cards.  Some of the people Im thanking dont even realize what theyve done for me, Chase said.

For Leah life is about helping and serving others.

Its that everyday person that comes your way that you must be grateful for.   Im grateful to the people of New Orleans for helping bring back my business after the storm.  I owe so many people, I cant afford to die,  Chase said.

Leah loves to make people happy with her cooking.

Youre work here on Earth is what you can do to make the world better.  Everyone has to eat, and all I can do is cook, so I make them happy,  she said.

Dooky Chases is located at 2301 Orleans Ave.   For menu items, click HERE:

Leah Chase is known as The Queen of Creole Cuisine.

SF students learn cooking and history all in one lesson

Former longtime chef and owner of renowned Financial District Italian restaurant Palio d’Asti Daniel Scherotter stood at the front of the kitchen as he handed out advice to the 17 budding cooks preparing a Thanksgiving feast around him.

“I have the butter, so now you said to strain it?” one asked.

“Take out the leaves and pour the butter all over the Brussel sprouts,” Scherotter replied.

Another came up to him: “For the oysters, do you want me to put the meat inside the shell now?”

Without missing a beat, the chef responded: “Did you already put the cheese in the [filling]? Get the Parmesan cheese and get the bread crumbs.”

A third cook held up a dish with sweet potatoes and questioned: “Where do the onions come into play with this?”

Unfazed, Scherotter laughed and said, “It’s your recipe.”

Such was the buzzing activity just hours before high school students at John O’Connell High School on Tuesday served the school’s roughly 70 faculty and staff a feast of the culinary arts and entrepreneurship class’s own take on Thanksgiving.

The menu, a mix of traditional dishes like turkey and mashed potatoes but with a unique kick, serves as a lesson in and of itself, Scherotter explained. Items like Native American corn pudding, tropical basmati rice and Thai butternut squash soup were selected after students researched the faculty’s flavor preferences to teach them about business.

“After studying what Thanksgiving was and how it evolved over time, they did a marketing study of the faculty and looked at what was trending in the culinary world and decided they wanted to do a locally oriented Thanksgiving meal, but with flavors of the Pacific Rim,” Scherotter said.

In the four years since he quit the full-time restaurant business to become a high school teacher, Scherotter has helped to redefine the way students in San Francisco are taught social studies: by aligning cooking with history lessons and entrepreneurship. The class meets five days a week and is co-taught with a social studies teacher. Students spend 25 percent of that time in a restaurant-quality kitchen adjoined to a regular classroom.

“[We] study the changing nature of American immigration groups through looking at their food,” Scherotter explained. “You can study 400 years of American history through changes of European techniques brought here that collided with Native American ingredients and other things, and that’s a great way to study American history.”

The two-year class is for juniors and seniors only, and is among four student labs at John O’Connell High. This year, another San Francisco public high school – Thurgood Marshall – is attempting its own version, but the movement is still raw at most high schools.

“It’s very cutting edge in the university level with food studies departments popping up everywhere,” Scherotter said.

John O’Connell High senior Frankie Pena would never have imagined four years ago that he would end up in Scherotter’s class, a tool that has even helped him secure a coveted engineering internship at the Ritz-Carlton. After years of struggling in school, the 18-year-old was fascinated when a group of general managers from the luxury hotel giant visited his campus and turned him on to the hotel business.

Now Pena, who has shadowed various employees at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco this fall, wants to go into hotel management and is already using the skills he learns in Scherotter’s entrepreneurship class in his professional life, including to help write the resume that landed him his current retail job.

Scherotter also helped Pena reach out to the Ritz-Carlton and schedule an interview for his internship, which goes through December.

“My first three years of high school weren’t that good, but I’m growing,” Pena said as he stirred the mustard greens and Parmesan cheese filling for the class’s version of the classic dish Oysters Rockefeller, baked Marin Miyagi oysters. “[This class] opened up a lot of doors for me.”

Gabe Newell Is In A Cooking Commercial, Gets Coffee Stolen

Ever wonder what Gabe Newell does with all those mountains of Valve money?

Well, one outlet was investing in a cooking company called ChefSteps back in 2012. “They talked to me like a scientist, like an engineer, and this isn’t how I thought people in the cooking world talked” Newell told Eater in an interview. “These guys are cooking nerds. And the science is super interesting. Their understanding of what’s going on in the experience of cooking resonated with my experiences in the world of creating entertainment.”

Fast forward to 2015 and ChefSteps have a new product they’re selling, a fancy little sous vide immersion circulator, and Newell appears briefly in its commercial, getting his coffee stolen while chilling in his Porsche.

What’s Cooking on 1060: Winterfest Food

By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) The ultimate seasonal pop-up has opened on Penns Landing.

Adam Delosso with Garces Group says if you get hungry while ice skating at Winterfest, theyve got you covered.

We have a Village Smash Burger, Delosso says. We have our Distrito Tacos were going to be offering. We also put together a Fromans hot dog stand.

And Ryan Berley with Franklin Fountain says theyll be providing the sweets, like smores, homemade candy canes and, of course, ice cream.

We have a special gingerbread hot waffle that you can get cinnamon ice cream drizzled with hot caramel, Berley says.

DeLosso says the pop-up is expected to serve hundreds of thousands of people through February.

Right around Thanksgiving or right around Christmas time we start to slow down a little bit more, he says, and I have a gigantic staff and this helps me put a lot of great people in great places and keep them employed.

Many of them at least warming up with a cup of hot chocolate.

And Id finish our night with our Thomas Jefferson nightcap, which is our Parisian drinking chocolate, DeLosso says. Its a dark, rich hot chocolate, like drinking a chocolate bar.

Hear the full podcast (runs 8:59)…

Cooking a Turkey: The ‘Aventador Method’

Over the years, so many alternate ways of cooking a holiday turkey have proliferated that some now refuse to eat a conventionally roasted bird. A British car enthusiast, who goes by the YouTube handle of Shmee150, decided to broil his Christmas turkey using the flames that shoot from the exhaust pipes of a Lamborghini Aventador at full, ahem, boil.

Silly, perhaps, but not entirely stupid.  Using the waste heat from a car engine to cook food likely goes back to the early days of the automobile age. A Google search shows numerous guides and tips on how to cook under the hood. Though my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook does not have a miles per pound table in their cooking time charts, there’s a dedicated car cooking cookbook, Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!, that’s been in print for decades, with multiple editions.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not convinced that Shmee150 did all of the cooking with the Lambo, as his turkey doesn’t seem to be browning very quickly with his method. Though I suppose that if he set up the raw bird on some kind of stand, instead of trying to waveringly hold it in the exhaust with a pitchfork, the high temperatures of the exhaust gases would be high enough to roast poultry.

I’m also skeptical that the turkey tasted as delicious as the video host claimed. Those flames are created by unburned fuel making its way into the exhaust system (I’m guessing that regulatory emissions testing doesn’t include full throttle overruns), so in addition to flames, that exhaust undoubtedly contains a rich broth of assorted hydrocarbons, not all of them tasty or necessarily safe and healthy as a seasoning for your food. It is probably safer, though, than dropping a frozen turkey into a hot deep fryer.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars amp; car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

Gas issue foils Chicago couple’s Thanksgiving cooking plans

At 9:30 am, we got an e-maiI saying the cooking gas was out and wouldnt be restored until next Tuesday, Vinci said.

The apartment buildings management company said that Peoples Gas was called to the building Wednesday night after residents smelled gas. The gas company discovered several leaks.

Our technicians found that the buildings contractors had left unsafe conditions on the natural gas equipment, said Jennifer Block, a Peoples Gas spokeswoman.

According to Peoples Gas, the building owner had its own contractor installing new meters. The equipment was damaged which caused the leaks. To make it safe, Peoples Gas turned off the cooking gas for several residents until the gas company could fix the problem.

Until then, the turkey was in the fridge Thursday evening. And it was football and carry-out for Vinci and Chmiel.

We were scrambling to figure out what to do. Unfortunately, without gas not much we can do, Vinci said.

Peoples restored gas for heating and water, but the company said cooking gas should be back on by hopefully Friday night as they plan to fix the damage all day on Friday.

Celebrate Shines The Spotlight On Creative Shabbos Cooking

New cookbooks seem to magically materialize on my doorstep begging to be read (and hopefully praised on these page) and, while many are lovely and full of promise, only a handful of them make me want to drop everything, head to my kitchen and start cooking. Celebrate, an all new cookbook by Elizabeth Kurtz to benefit Emunah of America, is one that does. Its 352 pages are full of culinary inspiration, enticing pictures, helpful tips and other useful factoids.

What sets this book apart is the focus, which is made abundantly clear on the front cover. Celebrate is subtitled Food Family Shabbos. A Shabbos-themed cookbook really calls to me because, other than a big midweek pot of soup or two, the vast majority of my cooking is Shabbos-related. It’s not that we subsist on pizza, fish sticks or other convenience foods during the week, but our meals generally consist of either Shabbos leftovers or easily-prepared fare like roast chicken and rice. Once my thoughts turn to Shabbos, however, all that changes and I shift into serious cooking mode as I continue my perpetual quest for new and exciting dishes to incorporate into our repertoire.

Allow me to introduce Elizabeth Kurtz to those of you who, like me, had never heard of her name. A mother of five, Kurtz blogs at, keeping readers supplied with a steady diet of innovative recipes since 2009, and also authors cooking columns for several outlets including the Jerusalem Post and A lover of farmers markets, cookbooks and all things food related, Kurtz scours her sources to find exciting new recipes and then works her magic to both simplify and kosherize them. That passion for food brings us Celebrate, a wonderful collection of recipes that will answer your weekly, “Oh no, what am I making for Shabbos?”

Oddly enough what called to me most was one of the very last sections in the book, the one dedicated to Shalosh Seudos. While I should be used to making Shalosh Seudos after all these years, week after week I find myself surprised to realize that after a marathon cooking session, I am still faced with yet one more meal to prepare, and, to add insult to injury, it has to be completely and totally pareve for the vast majority of the year. The recipes here are fun and intriguing: Everything bagel salad with romaine lettuce salad, lox and bagel chips, topped with a dressing inspired by the crumbs and spices left in the bottom of a bag of everything bagels. Other creative entries include watermelon tabbouleh and a guacamole recipe with five additional variations that will really make everyone’s favorite avocado recipe sing.

Another chapter that pays homage to the realities of Shabbos is the Kiddush section, with plenty of trendy offerings as well as traditional dishes that include an overnight potato kugel and a basic cholent recipe with variations that transform the Shabbos staple from classic to international to health conscious. Gefilte fish gets a funky facelift in skewered gefilte fish with zesty ratatouille and even chicken livers go hip when paired with brandy, mushrooms and dried cherries. The Challah chapter also includes several interesting recipes, but while the onion-poppy seed challah looks delicious and the spelt and gluten-free challahs will appeal to many, it is the vanilla challah that I plan on making the next time I bake.

There are plenty of other lovely recipes that are on my to-be-made list, including Italian pumpkin and amaretto soup, Good-as-a-latte Wild Mushroom soup, Horseradish Meringue Topped Salmon and Succulent and Crispy five-hour roast chicken. Of course, no cookbook is complete without a really heavenly selection of desserts and the ones featured here are guaranteed diet killers, but well worth the calories.

As always, some of my favorite cookbook pages are not the recipes but the extras. Kurtz’s cookie troubleshooting chart is full of helpful information to help prevent those epic failures and a fully-illustrated meat guide identifies different cuts of meat and how best to cook them. Scattered throughout the book are frequent tips and notations, with Pesach suggestions and substitutions listed when applicable.

Celebrate is a great addition to your cookbook collection and makes a great Chanukah gift. Distributed by Feldheim, it is available online and at your favorite Judaica store.

* * * * *

Acorn Squash Stuffed With Jeweled Israeli Couscous

Larger than traditional couscous, Israeli couscous cooks and tastes more like a small pasta. I love the presentation of this dish, which uses squash halves as natural serving vessels for the colorful couscous. It has bursts of color from the dried fruit, parsley, and acorn squash and extra bursts of flavor from the garlic and orange zest. After you zest the orange, be sure to use the fresh juice in the recipe for its bright, clean flavor.

Serves 8


4 acorn squash (about 1½ pounds each), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 tbsp canola oil
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper


3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 (8.8-ounce) packages Israeli couscous
2 ¾ cups pareve chicken broth or chicken broth
2 tsp orange zest
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup diced dried apricots (optional)
¼ cup craisins (optional)
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
¼ to ½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ cup pinenuts, toasted


Preheat oven to 425°F. Place acorn squash, cut-side up, on two baking sheets. Brush the

flesh of the squash with canola oil, sprinkle with brown sugar, and season with salt and

pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add oil. When oil is hot, cook onion until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook an additional 4 minutes.

Pour in couscous and stir for 2 minutes, until it begins to smell toasty and nutty.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 8 minutes, or until liquid is fully absorbed. Add orange zest, orange juice, apricots, craisins, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook an additional minute for the orange juice to absorb. Add


To serve, spoon couscous into squash halves. Rewarm in oven if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

Can be prepared one day ahead. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature or rewarm, covered, in a warming drawer or 300°F oven.

About the Author: Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and many private clients. She can be contacted at

Sioux Falls urging residents to recycle cooking grease

SIOUX FALLS, SD – The city of Sioux Falls is urging residents to recycle the grease resulting from holiday cooking.

People are being asked to not throw used grease in the garbage and not pour it down the drain. Instead, residents are asked to take the cooking oil to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility in Sioux Falls.

Residents of Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha and Turner counties can dispose of the unwanted oil for free at the facility. The oil will be recycled as a renewable fuel.

Fire officials are also asking residents to be mindful of becoming distracted or even falling asleep while preparing a meal on the stove. The National Fire Prevention Association says 40 percent of home fires start in the kitchen, and the leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.