Thursday, January 10, 2013

Joanne Chang's Incomparable Sticky Buns from "Flour"

The book "Throwdown"
has over 100 recipes--
but only 33 of them are Bobby's 
Bobby Flay’s “Throwdown” has been around for 9 seasons on Food Network TV.  In case you missed any of the over 100 episodes, they’re rerun on the Cooking Channel often enough to clog your DVR. The popularity of the show has as much to do with its affable host, as it has to do with his subject matter. Chef Flay goes head to head with Chefs who are never quite as famous as he is.  Nonetheless, they have captured the hearts of their customers with dishes that are slightly more exalted than run-of-the-mill house specialties.   Bobby doesn’t cook the Chef’s recipe.  He and his two able assistants invent their own version of the signature dish that’s being featured.  One week, he takes on a barbecued ribs expert, the next an authority on chowder.  The local chef always appears gob smacked by Bobby’s sudden appearance on the scene.  But they recover fast and the contest is on, to be judged by local food authorities.  For the record, Bobby does not consistently win.  At the moment, he has had 32 wins, 1 tie and 68 losses.  I am slightly suspect that the local judges surely know which dish is Bobby’s and which is his challenger’s.  I mean they do live in these towns and they are supposed to know all about local food.  If they’re not bent on being run out of town, they may cheat to the hometown side’s advantage.  But that hardly takes away from the fun.

Monday, January 7, 2013

1770 House Meatloaf with Garlic Sauce from Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof"

          Meatloaf is an intensely personal experience.  Every family has a meatloaf recipe that is so dearly loved, it achieves iconic status.  This family recipe should not be abridged or changed in any way or else the cook, in self-defense, should consider locking the kitchen door after serving his or her variation.  This fall, a recipe for something called a “Meatloaf Cake” got a lot of play in the New York Times.  As a lover of many meatloaves, I was quick to cook it up.  I served it to Andrew and it was met with a ‘meh’.  It was perfectly fine, if cloyingly sweet, and nothing to write home about.  Although, had my last name been Romney, I am sure it would have been another experience altogether. It certainly is for one Mitt Romney, for whom it is reportedly the ultimate comfort food, eaten in good times and bad.  Meatloaf has that effect on people.  It is part memory and part magic meal, conjuring up visions of home and mashed potatoes and green beans.  At least that’s the version I cook for the homeless shelter. ( I think if I altered that recipe, the men at the shelter might not welcome me back.   So what would possess me to take out my brand new copy of Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter 2012) and, out of all its recipes, choose to make meatloaf?