Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday is the Last Day for Bon Appetit and Wolfgang Puck on HSN

Photo by José Picayo

Our whirlwind long-weekend is coming to a close but it's not too late to take advantage of both Bon Appetit and Wolfgang Puck specials through HSN. I have had the pleasure of using many of Wolfgang's small appliances and equipment and the Cutlery Block Set is a dream to use. They have sold out of several colors, they are so popular, but there are still some in stock and it is a great deal. The Santoku knife might just become the knife you use more than any other in your kitchen. Check the HSN site for airing times; call in an chat with us! We would love to hear about your experience with his products and our magazine. The picture above is of our Labor Day Barbecue Menu; you will get all those recipes with your first issue.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bon Appetit and Wolfgang Puck Take Over HSN

Photo by Craig Cutler

I've been here at HSN for 4 days now and the energy and excitement hasn't diminished one bit. If anything, Wolf and I are more energized than ever. He is presenting all of his fabulous cookware and bakeware (including an incredible deep fryer) and I have a great Bon Appetit offer for the viewers - and you! The set is electric with smells and tables and tables of gorgeous food... and the callers who call in and let us know how much they love his cookware and our magazine are such a great way to connect with our readers. The HSN special is 12 issues of Bon Appetit for $12. Even if you have a subscription, this is a perfect time to pick up a gift. It makes a perfect host and hostess gift for the upcoming holidays. Your subscription will begin with the September issue, which is our highly anticipated Restaurant Issue. The pic above is of Bacon and Cashew Caramel Corn with a kick of cayenne. It is from a September article on bar food and everyone here at the studios has been munching on this morning, noon and night. It's sweet, salty and positively addictive. And might I add that the recipe for Cava Sangria in the same issue is a mighty nice sip to go alongside.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bon Appetit, Wolfgang Puck & HSN

Photo by Nigel Cox

Wow! I am down at the HSN studios in St. Petersburg, FL and let me tell you, the amount of amazing food in the studio is unbelievable. The pic above is a close-up of the Triple Beef Cheeseburger that graces the cover of the September issue of Bon Appetit. I can't even count the number of people working behind the scenes getting all the food ready for me and Wolfgang. He is demonstrating all of his cookware and bakeware and I have to tell you, the 10-cup rice cooker is blowing my mind. He uses it to make everything from mac n' cheese to flan to a clam bake, all in one tabletop unit. Check it out, and of course pick up a year's subscription to Bon Appetit while you're at it. We have a HSN special $12 for a full year. Thats 1000 recipes, cookware and restaurant reviews, drinks, techniques and tips. Your subscription will start with the September issue so that you can make that burger. Call in while I'm on the air!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wolgang Puck and Bon Appetit Team Up This Weekend on HSN

Bon Appetit has partnered with HSN to celebrate the Wolfgang Puck 12th Anniversary Event. I am bringing you a full year subscription to the magazine, through HSN, for $12. You can also shop for all sorts of Wolfgang Puck products from grill pans to immersion blenders. Wait till you see the steak I will be cooking from our September issue on that grill pan...stacked with fried onion rings, crumbles of blue cheese. I wish we had aroma-television!

HSN will be presenting fabulous cookware and food related items all weekend starting on Friday. If you would like to catch my Bon Appetit appearances, they will be during the following hours:

Friday August 27th 1:00am (yes, am)
Friday August 27th 6:00pm
Friday August 27th 9:00pm to 11pm (most likely at beginning and end of each hour)

Saturday August 28th Noon to 1:00pm (most likely at beginning and end of each hour)

Sunday August 29th 9am to 11am (most likely at beginning and end of each hour)
Sunday August 29th 2pm to 4pm (most likely at beginning and end of each hour)

See you there! Call in! We would love to hear about your experiences with Wolfgang's cookware and our magazine.

See you from the studio!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

REPOST: This was Last Year's Pie Contest at The Dutchess County Fair....I Ate 40 Pies...and Not only Survived, but Enjoyed Every Moment!


Also, come on by at 3:30 and 5:30 for demos from my newest book, Unforgettable Desserts. There will be plenty of samples.


This past Tuesday I was up at the NY State Dutchess County Fair teaching chocolate classes as well as judging a Pillsbury Pie Contest. The chocolate classes went well, as they always do. Folks get to learn about how cacao is grown and taste different chocolates. I spent a fair amount of time talking about How to taste chocolate critically....look for that info in an upcoming blog.

But at 7pm I was one of 4 judges who got to sample 40 home baked pies. Here we are getting our instructions.I was joined by a CIA pastry professor (to my left), a recent graduate and a gentleman who owns several restaurants. Jack Ford, the organizer is in the blue chef's coat. The rules were provided by Pillsbury. Contestants had to use both crusts from the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust package, fruit had to be in the filling and they had to be 9-inch pies or 9 or 10-inch tarts. The pies/tarts had to be there a half-hour before judging and be accompanied by the recipe typed on an 8x11" paper.

At about 6pm the pies started arriving.
There were several classic double-crust apple pies, some with lattice work and even one savory pie! It was a BBQ chicken and Pineapple Pie. The rules said fruit had to be in the filling, so this was within the suggested parameters. The chicken was shredded and the top crust was dusted with cayenne and chili powder. It was actually a nice break from all the sweet pies, but it didn't make it into the finals. Here's another shot of some of the great entries.
We judged on Appearance, Creativity, Ease of Preparation, Taste and Overall Impression. We split into 2 judging teams and each of us took one table full of pies. Then we tabulated our scores to get the top 3 pies on each long banquet table and we all sampled those last 6 and picked our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.

Equipped with clip-boards, judging sheets, pencils and bottles of water, we got down to work. Here we are tasting and discussing as the crowd looks on. I was equipped with a mic and was giving some running commentary.
Here are two close-ups:
Even before we started sampling, I noticed at least one pie that was in a tempered glass pie plate that I knew was larger than 9-inches. I asked the organizer, Jack Ford, if we had a ruler or measuring tape, which he provided. I huddled with my fellow judges, who at first eyed me a bit suspiciously, and I explained my thought process. This judging was going to be hard enough as it was, and as far as I was concerned, Pillsbury had provided the rules and we were supposed to judge by the rules And the contestants were supposed to follow the rules. If anyone hadn't followed the rules, I thought they should be disqualified. They all agreed and quickly added that this should go for any of the rules. Turns out that a couple of pies were too large, one arrived late and one had the recipe hand-written on a small notecard. Unfortunately, these were all disqualified. I say unfortunately because some of them were very tasty!

We used clean knives to cut slices and clean forks for each bite. Someone asked me if I was going to bite and spit. No Way! I was here to eat some pie!

I thought it was interesting that there were so many apple pies. After all, these were not going to get big marks for creativity, and therefore the rest of the execution had to be spot on. I found several of them to be way too heavy with nutmeg and/or cloves; for me this meant they were marked down. We had several crusts that were underdone. Even thought everyone was starting with the Pillsbury crusts, there was huge variation. Several factors come into play: some used a tin pan, some used Pyrex and some crockery. All conduct heat differently. Some started in a high oven and left it there throughout. Others started in a very high oven and turned the heat down....pies were baked on pans and off...on different rack placements in the oven and what have you.

There were a few that were very creative, but then the execution wasn't carried out very well. There was a Blueberry Merlot pie that I loved, but apparently the other judges didn't because it didn't make it to the finals. The most creative was a Key Lime Blueberry. Here is a pic:
It had a bottom crust, a layer of key lime, a layer of cheesecake filling and a layer of blueberry filling all under a decorative top crust. The cheesecake layer was too thick and the filling on the whole was too gloppy. But I Love this idea and hope the baker will refine it. Curiously only 2 pies contained chocolate, both combining it with berries. There were many, many blends of fruit. Many of the pies were way too sweet for me. There was also a lot of tapioca used as a thickener, which I too like to use. And I was so happy that none were overly thickened; I like a juicy pie. Here are the ribbons, ready to be handed out.
My favorite ended up winning! It was a Peach Nectarine Cherry Pie with Sugar Glazed Almonds. Man was it tasty! There was a bit of almond extract in the filling; not enough to taste but it enhanced the filling beautifully. The cherries were dried but nice and plumped up. The sugared almonds on top were such a lovely addition! The winner, Sandra Trifilo from Glenham, NY, could not have been sweeter. She received a $200 prize and a was interviewed by Pillsbury. Here is The Winning Pie! Here she is the Moment she learned that she won.

And here is her glorious pie. The crust was fabulously handled, the flavors were creative and is even pretty when cut - not an easy thing to accomplish!Second place went to Arleen Harkins from Red Hook, NY with her Peachy Blackberry Pie; she won $100 and third place was given to Fran Conway of NYC who won $50 with her classic Apple Pie. Her crust was the best there that day. She got that crust as flaky and perfectly browned as one could hope for. Check it out:
Here are our three Finalists, left to right: Sandra Trifilo, Arleen and Fran.

I can't wait till next year! Start practicing now folks! See you there....the Fair, by the way, continues for another week.