On Today's Show: CRNtalk.com
Exec Chef John Kuropatwa Spigola Ristorante Hamilton Township , NJ
Pumpkins – which are members of the gourd family, along with watermelon and squash – are an American pastime each fall. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in this country in 2008, at a value around $141 million. While most families plan on getting a pumpkin this season, they are not always sure how to select a good one, or what to do once they have it home. “Pumpkins are a sign that we are heading into the holiday season,” says John Kuropatwa, executive chef of Spigola Ristorante, located in Hamilton Township , New Jersey . “But what is so exciting is that they provide so many opportunities to create great dishes that we don’t have year-round. It’s really a special time of year.” If you are in the market for a pumpkin, this season, keep the following shopping, usage and disposal tips in mind: Selecting. To pick a good pumpkin, opt for one that is mature, feels firm, and has a rich orange color. Avoid ones that have scars and cracks. You can check the firmness by pushing on it with your fingernail. If it is mature, it should not scratch with the pressure. Storing. Once you get the pumpkin home, you can store it for at least a month in a cool, dry place. If you want it to keep longer, you can take the pumpkin flesh out of its skin; it can then be frozen, dried or canned. Using. There are a variety of uses for pumpkins. Many people opt to carve them into jack-o-lanterns. Others may decide to cook with them, which is a good option because they are loaded with antioxidants, beta-carotene, and vitamin A. They also provide fiber, potassium, and calcium. Pumpkins can be baked whole in the oven (set at 325 degrees, cooking time varies by size). Just be sure to poke holes in it first and then, when it’s finished, remove the skin, seeds and membrane. The seeds can be roasted in the oven by tossing with some oil and laying a single layer on a baking sheet for about 12-15 minutes at 250 degrees. Pumpkin can also be used to make pies, pancakes, muffins, soups, and variety of other tasty recipes. A quick online search can net a wide array of pumpkin recipes. If you want to carve your pumpkin but still get some nutritional benefits, either carve it and toast the seeds, or opt to decorate it with non-toxic paint so you can still bake it afterward. Discarding. If you go the route of creating a jack-o-lantern, this season, you may be wondering what to do with it once the festivities have moved on. Composting it makes a great option if you or someone you know has a garden. You can also check into donating it to local animal farms, or see if your city is collecting them for recycling purposes. “No autumn would be complete without the great pumpkin,” adds Kuropatwa. “They are so versatile and fun to work with. Even the kids can get in on selecting and using them. It’s truly a family activity.”
Anne Byrne "The Cake Mix Doctor"
Anne Byrn is a nationally award-winning newspaper and magazine food writer with 20 years of experience. She is the former food editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and is also the author of Cooking in the New South and Food Gifts for All Seasons. She hosts a weekly radio show, Food Bites, on WNAH-AM in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family in the heart of the Cake Belt. The Cake Mix Doctor is in! And the prescription is simple: By doctoring up packaged cake mix with just the right extras--a touch of sweet butter here, cocoa powder there, or poppy seeds, vanilla yogurt, sherry, eggs, and grated lemon zest for the Charleston Poppy Seed Cake--even the least experienced baker can turn out luscious signature desserts, time after time. The proof is in the taste, and the taste never stops--from Toasted Coconut Sour Cream Cake to Devilishly Good Chocolate Cake; from a to-die-for Caramel Cake and a Holiday Yule Log to cheesecakes, coffee cakes, sheet cakes, pound cakes, bars, brownies, and those all-important frostings, here are 175 fast, foolproof recipes that will transform the art of home baking in America. Who could believe these cakes came out of a box? Moist, tender, rich, deep, and complexly flavored, without a hint of artificiality, each cake stand up and delivers. But without any of the fuss of baking from scratch. Anne Byrn, an award-wining food writer and self-described purist, creates recipes that employ a cake mix's strengths---convenience, ease-of-use, dependability, and almost imperviousness to overbeating, underbeating, overbaking, and underbaking. In addition to the recipes are the Cake Mix Doctor's Q&A's, extensive "Doctor Says" tips, lists--15 Beautiful Birthday Cakes, 15 Cakes That Will Cash in at a Bake Sale--and more, all illustrated in a full-color photographic insert.
Kerri - Event Coordinator "The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck"
She has been the Event Coordinator at Central 214 for a year. She has no interest in cooking and doesn’t eat vegetables. Her favorite meal is pot roast, potatoes, mac-n-cheese, and a dinner roll. The cameras will follow Blythe, a 29-year old Texas native who is plus-sized in stature and personality, as she starts her new venture as the new executive chef at Central 214 restaurant inside the Hotel Palomar, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Dallas. The saucy, outspoken chef is revamping the menu, taking over the kitchen, and determined to turn every night at Central 214 into a sold-out Saturday night. "The Naughty Kitchen with Chef Blythe Beck” also tracks the lives of the colorful cast of supporting characters and their relationships and drama in and out of Central 214. This unparalleled restaurant staff is made up of Megan, the general manager of Central 214; Eric “Jimmy,” Central 214’s sous chef; Emily, the “door whore;” Curtis the “spatial arrangement coordinator;” Kerri, the event coordinator; Sam, Central 214’s only male cocktail server and Robyn, the queen cocktail server. Blythe also ventures outside of the restaurant, where she can be seen interacting with the Dallas elite, and performing cooking demos at various charity events and chef showcases warning audiences, “I hope you wore your stretchy pants!” During the course of the show, we also catch up with two of Blythe’s closest confidantes: Cruz, Blythe’s hairstylist, and Cory, Blythe’s best friend and chef buddy. As Blythe’s quest for Total World Culinary Domination is documented, viewers see her spread her naughty food philosophy beyond the hotel – sharing her culinary secrets with her celebrity clients, educating audiences about how to sex up their mashed potatoes, and showing a group of privileged Dallas housewives how to rub their meat and touch it in all the naughty spots.
Greg La Follette - Winemaker Tandem Winery
Tandem is a small, artisan winery in Sonoma County that produces small-lot Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from some of the finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and other appellations. Tandem was co-founded in 2001 by Greg La Follette. A skilled viticulturist and winegrower as well as noted winemaker, Greg had achieved considerable acclaim throughout his career, crafting wine for high-end wineries in California and abroad. He had long yearned for a small winery of his own where he could freely practice his own unique brand of "on the edge" winemaking, taking the kind of risks he felt were necessary to make truly extraordinary wine. Drawing on decades-old friendships with some of the region’s most respected growers, Greg has built Tandem into a boutique winery known for producing some of California’s most intriguing Chardonnay and elegant Pinot Noir. The name "Tandem" was chosen as a tribute to Greg’s two lifelong passions: cycling and friendship. The name also highlights Greg’s fervent belief that exceptional wines are made in partnership with the land. In 2009 Tandem Winery was purchased by Pete Kight, proprietor of Quivira Vineyards & Winery in Dry Creek Valley and Torbreck Vintners in Australia. Introduced by a mutual friend, the pair quickly discovered a kinship; each man believed in finding the best way to produce a desired outcome, not necessarily the easiest way. Greg’s risky, road-less-traveled approach to winemaking and his deeply-held belief that the land be allowed to speak through his wines mirrored Kight’s own philosophy. Forming a relationship with Greg La Follette and Tandem was in sync with Pete’s desire to form partnerships with world-class, independently minded winemakers who espouse a "vineyard first" approach to winemaking. One of the country’s leading authorities on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Greg La Follette has crafted some of California’s most acclaimed wines. While studying ancient Burgundian techniques at Davis, Greg’s passion in winemaking became clear: seek out the best possible winemaking methods and uncover the mysteries of why they worked. As a cellar worker in the student winery at Davis, Greg sought to identify the scientific components of mouth feel. His interest in the Burgundian techniques of aging sur lies and battonage was on the crest of the wave of interest in new production techniques in California. His studies, funded by the Napa Valley Vintners Association, gained the attention of winemaking icons such as Dick Graff, and paved the way for Greg’s future success. Throughout his career, Greg has continued to rely on age-old Burgundian practices not commonly used in this country. Having studied winemaking at UC Davis, Greg gained on-the-job training at Beaulieu Vineyard as research viticulturalist/enologist with wine master André Tchelistcheff. From BV, Greg went to work as a consultant for Kendall-Jackson where he was responsible for discovering and disseminating the best and latest thoughts on vine and wine quality. He was later winemaker and general manager for Flowers, where he launched its successful Pinot Noir program. While his expertise in viticulture is often cited, Greg is perhaps best known for his in-depth work in the area of mouth feel, a subject he has focused on throughout his career through scientific studies and winemaking experiments. Greg’s unparalleled understanding of yeast – specifically, how different yeasts affect the mouth feel and flavors of the finished wine – is a unique aspect of his winemaking talent. It is a subject he has returned to again and again throughout his career through experiments with native/feral yeast and malolactic fermentations. His discoveries have contributed to the greatness of his wine and the value of his role as mentor to many young winemakers. As Greg says, "The language of wine is understanding what makes yeasts tick." A viticulturist and winegrower first and foremost, Greg crafts wines outside of the "safe zone," taking whatever risks he feels necessary to bring forth the truest expression of a vineyard’s voice. It is not an approach to winemaking that seeks out the easiest or most efficient path; rather, it is one that takes risks and has faith that the harder the work the better the outcome. For Greg, winemaking as the ultimate act of faith: a winemaker must listen to the land and trust the grapes to reveal their true character in the finished wine. He frequently uses raising children as a metaphor for his winemaking (something that he is well qualified to speak about given he has six kids!) It is an analogy that appeals to Pete Kight, himself the father of two. As Greg describes it, both parenting and winemaking require one to give up a measure of control and simply have faith in the outcome. For Greg, being a winemaker means forgetting about ego, preconceived notions and imposing oneself upon the winemaking process. The key instead is listening closely to what the vineyard wants to express and trusting that you can help to gently guide that process. Tandem Winery’s vineyard sources are among the finest in the Sonoma Coast and Russian River regions. Tandem’s growers employ sustainable agricultural practices through balanced vine management and work to foster the dialogue between vine and wine. Greg’s ties to the people who expertly farm these vineyards go back years and even decades in some cases. These unique relationships grew out of shared visions and undertakings such as vineyard sites replanted with new clones or vine management practices overhauled. Often, a joint effort between Greg and a grower to realize the full potential of a particular site has resulted in a lasting friendship. Greg first worked with Bazzano’s Lorenzo Vineyard Chardonnay with the 1993 vintage when the forward, lime and pineapple statements of fruit left a lasing impression upon him. A dozen years and a few producers later, the two men were reunited. Tandem’s Lorenzo Chardonnay is a profound expression of terroir that only old-vine Russian River Chardonnay such as Lorenzo Vineyard can bring to the bottle. Greg began sourcing from noted grower Kent Ritchie years before his vineyard became synonymous with the region’s best Chardonnay. Tandem makes both a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir with fruit from Sangiacomo Vineyard where tiny yields of both varietals have resulted in consistently concentrated fruit year after year. Tandem’s plush, exquisite Van der Kamp Pinot Noir comes from that family’s 1400 foot high vineyard on Sonoma Mountain, a site the Van der Kamps have farmed for over four decades. Tandem is best known for producing small-lot Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from some of the finest vineyards in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast and other appellations. In his winemaking, Greg experiments with wild fermenting, hand plunging, smaller tanks and unconventional winery equipment, most of it built by hand with pieces from the salvage yard. Each Tandem vineyard designate wine offers different flavor and aroma profiles, but the thread of continuity is the rich, powerful yet elegant texture. "Pushing the envelope" means Greg does not practice safe winemaking techniques—rather he strives to craft exciting wines that are unfiltered and un-fined. Tandem wines may form sediment or may not be brilliantly clear, but they are clearly alive and will evolve over time in both glass and bottle. In addition to vineyard designate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay the winery also produces Peloton, a blend of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Carignane, Sangiovese and Syrah with a touch of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer thrown in for good measure. Though his reputation and expertise might suggest otherwise, throughout his career, Greg’s focus has been on collaboration and partnership. At every juncture, he has sought to build a sense of community, with fellow workers, friends, winemakers and growers. Whether in his role as a mentor to young winemakers, advisor to his growers, father to his children or partner to his wife, Greg’s life is an enviable collection of relationships and bonds that extend back through the years. The by-product of those human relationships – wisdom, camaraderie and expertise – pedals Tandem forward and brings a higher purpose to Greg’s life.