Peanut Butter Brownies

In Butter, Chefs, Chocolate, Cookies - Bars, Dessert, Eggs, Peanut Butter, Recipe
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Finished brownies - Blog 3865

 

I'm baaaack.....

Hey gang, I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted, but its taken me a few weeks to get my schedule organized after starting my new job to where I've been able to put some time aside for Oui, Chef.  It turns out that I started at America's Test Kitchen at the very busiest time of year, with everyone scrambling to get ahead on their magazine or cookbook work before much of the month of May is lost to filming the ATK television series.  As such, I've had the opportunity to be involved with some work that I otherwise might have had to wait months to try, and while in many ways its been cool, its also been a little overwhelming.

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Honey Walnut Bars

In Butter, Chefs, Cookbooks, Cookies - Bars, Cream, Dessert, Nuts, Recipe, Salt, Walnut
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Finished cookies - Blog 3863
 

Just a quick post today as I have such a busy weekend what with the Easter holiday AND a family birthday to shop-plan-cook for, but it's been a while since I posted and I'm anxious to check in with you all.

First, I had a GREAT week working my new gig at America's Test Kitchen.  Everyone I've met, and especially my teammates at Cook's Illustrated have been awesome.  They've been incredibly helpful, welcoming and PATIENT as I work to quickly learn the ropes and become a fully contributing member of the team.  After a few days of HR and IT "new hire" stuff I was in the kitchen getting started on two new recipes I'm developing.  I've got a ton to learn, but I'm already having a blast in the mix with some seriously talented cooks.  So fun!

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Some Exciting News To Share ......

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Those of you who have been with us for a while have heard me talk about the work I do with the Share Our Strength organization as a Chef Instructor in their "Cooking Matters" cooking classes.  The classes, which teach basic cooking skills to folks struggling with food insecurity and providing meals for their families on a very tight budget, have been a rewarding and important part of my volunteer life for years now.  Arming these families with the culinary tools that allow them to lessen their dependency on take-out or highly processed foods, and equiping them for productive time in their own kitchens, cooking for their families, has been life-changing work for me.

That said, each class touches only 12-16 families at a time, and I have long hoped to find another avenue, in addition to my teaching with Cooking Matters, where I could leverage both my knowledge of cooking, and desire to teach these important skills by reaching a wider audience.  

I've learned through my teaching that one of the most important tools for the budding home cook is a repertoire of rock solid recipes from which to draw both inspiration and confidence.  Recipes that are so well researched and written that they practically guarantee success, even for cooks just taking their first few baby steps in the kitchen.  Working from quality recipes can quickly lead to kitchen confidence, and go a long way in convincing people that YES THEY CAN cook affordable, tasty and nutritious food for their families.

As luck would have it, one of the premiere resources for such recipes is "America's Test Kitchen", located in Brookline, MA.  Through their magazine publications "Cook's Illustrated" and "Cook's Country", along with their cookbook division and radio and TV shows, America's Test Kitchen develops, tests and publishes recipes that millions have come to love and trust over the years.  Some time ago my wife suggested that I look into working there as a means of sharing my passion for home cooking with more families, and after a sustained period of hemming and hawing and dragging of feet, I decided she was probably right.

I'm excited to share with all of you today, that after a lengthy and detailed vetting process I've been offered a job within the ATK family and will be joining them starting TODAY!  To be precise, I'll be working as a Test Cook and Food Writer for Cook's Illustrated Magazine the bi-monthly flagship publication of the organization.  As a Test Cook I'll be responsible for researching, developing, and testing my own original recipes for the magazine, then writing about the ins and outs, and successes and failures of the development process in an article that will present the recipe in its final form for publication.

I'm pretty freaking excited, I must say.

What will all this mean for "Oui, Chef" you ask?  Hopefully not too much as I really enjoy our time here chatting about cooking and sharing great recipes, and have no intention of shutting down my little blog anytime soon.  I'm anticipating that my posts will be less frequent as I work to get my legs under me in the new job, and ask for your patience as I slip from two to one post a week for a stretch.

 While I'll be precluded from sharing "behind the scenes" info from my time in the test kitchen (they understandably don't want me blabbing about upcoming features in the magazine), I'll be sure to let you know how things are going once I get settled in.

I guess that's all for now.  Thank you all for being part of our Oui, Chef family and making this such a fun gig.  I'll see you back here very soon!

Cheers - Steve

 

Quinoa Cookies

In Butter, Coconut, Cookies - Bars, Dessert, Dried Cranberries, Eggs, Honey, Nuts, Oats, Quinoa, Recipe
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Quinoa cookies - Blog 3854

 

These are a slight twist on some cookies I made a couple of years back that I pitched as a perfect breakfast treat.  

I know, cookies for breakfast....what could be better, huh?  Especially if you've got kids.  I mean can you imagine the love that will be flowing your way when you tell them you've made them cookies for breakfast?

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Paleo Granola

In Almond, Breakfast / Brunch, Cashews, Dried Cherries, Dried Cranberries, Gluten-Free, Granola, Hazelnuts, Honey, Nuts, Recipe, Snacks
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  Granola wide - Blog 3851

 

Paleolithic eating, or "Paleo" for short is all the rage these days.  In a nutshell, the paleo diet consists  of foods that only our most ancient ancestors would have eaten, like lean meats, fruits, nuts, and vegetables (this all prior to the advent of agrarian living).  Conspicuously absent from a paleo diet are more "modern" foods such as dairy products, wheat,  grains and legumes, and all forms of processed sugar.  As someone who is pretty careful about my sugar intake and not particularly sensitive to wheat products (no gluten intolerance here) I've never given the paleo diet much of a thought, but if this recipe is any indication, then perhaps its worth a second look. 

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Haricot Vert Salad Nicoise

In Beans, Olive, Recipe, Salads, Side Dish, Tomato, Vegetarian
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Haricot vert - Blog 3854

 

This salad was inspired by one I ate a few times while living in Paris.  While there, we occasionally grabbed lunch at a trendy little joint called L'Avenue on avenue Montaigne in the city's chic 8th arrondissement.  There was hardly anything better than sitting on the restaurant's terrace on a spring day, washing down a chilled haricot vert salad with a crisp chablis, all the while watching the beautiful people pass by on their way to spending oodles of ching on Paris' premiere fashion shopping street.

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Twice Baked Potatoes

In Butter, Cheese, Herbs, Potatoes, Recipe, Side Dish
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  Potato wide - Blog 3849

 

Every time I make twice baked potatoes I curse myself for not making them more often.  They are hardly more work than a traditional baked potato, and while the ingredients aren't really different (I usually put butter, sour cream and chives on my baked spuds) something magical seems to happen when you fully mix the topping into the flesh of the potato and send it back into the oven for a quick stay at finishing school. 

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Raspberry Ricotta Cake

In Breakfast / Brunch, Butter, Cake, Cheese, Dessert, Fruit, Raspberry, Recipe, Ricotta
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Raspberry cake macro - Blog 3842

 

The kitchen gods were good to me this week.  Just as I was noodling on what to do with an almost full container of ricotta cheese in my fridge (leftover from making these seafood ravioli), this gorgeous recipe for a ricotta based cake arrived at my doorstep courtesy of my friends at Bon Appétit Magazine.

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Seafood Ravioli with Brown Butter Caper Sauce

In Butter, Cheese, Eggs, Lemon, Lobster, Main Course, Pasta, Recipe, Ricotta, Shrimp
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  Macro - Blog 3832

 

How many of you have ever made your own pasta? 

I know it can seem a bit daunting, and with high-quality dried and fresh pastas available everywhere these days, many of us can't be bothered with making it from scratch.  But can I tell you something?  Once you experience the ritual of making your own and then taste how clearly superior it is to ANY store bought brand, you'll be a pasta maker for life.

 

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Seedy Cherry Quinoa Bars

In Cookies - Bars, Dessert, Dried Cherries, Nuts, Quinoa, Snacks
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  Tight - Blog 3819

 

The latest issue of Bon Appétit Magazine had a feature on how to make all sorts of different energy bars from scratch, and of the half-dozen or so that they shared, this one struck me as the one to give a try.  I think it mostly had to do with the binder made from tart cherries, rice syrup and salt (YUM!), but it also could have been that I have 3 different bags of quinoa in my pantry just screaming for redemption.  Whatever the reason, I'm quite happy to have made these.

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Welcome

"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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