Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Travels to Phoenix - the cooking show!

Jeff and I were in Arizona this past weekend for the Sonoma Showcase Festival. (Yes, the name was sold and "Sonoma" is now being sold as a brand. Why didn't we think of this?)  We were there to do cooking demonstrations at the event. Their fabulous PR person, Sandy Painter, arranged for us to promote the event by going on 3 different morning news shows.

For the show on Thursday morning, Sonoran Living, Jeff prepared "Dungeness Crab Stuffed Avocado with Mango and Red Chile Dressing", from his cookbook, Down Home to Downtown. While finishing up the first show Jeff was asked if he could prepare some food as props for the news broadcast the next morning out at the event location. Sure...Jeff is an agreeable guy! Since it didn't need to necessarily be what we were demonstrating that weekend, Jeff just ...created some dishes! It was pretty fun walking around the giant grocery store thinking of what food would project both Zin Restaurant's style of food while also staying seasonal AND available.

Jeff came up with three dishes, one of which was Butternut Squash Hash with Applewood Smoked Bacon, using Zin's house bacon, of course! I don't have to be psychic (which I can be on rare occasions!) to know you will want to know what else he served: Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto (which was fantastic!) and Zin smoked Fennel Sausage with Sauteed peppers. Mind you, it was just for a prop, but Jeff made sure it was seasoned properly! We were just to place the food on the plates, set them on a display table and then make ourselves scarce. As it turned out, Jeff was interviewed live on location and did a GREAT job! 

At the end of the shoot, Sandy explained she has lost her Saturday morning "cooking guest" and asked us if we could appear on yet another show the next morning! We agreed and after watching everyone devour the squash hash, decided to present that dish. We were supposed to only get 2 minutes of air time but it turned into 5! The only segment available online is the Friday show. Here is the link to that one: Jeff and Susan on ABC 15

For those that have requested it, here is the recipe for the Butternut Squash Hash with Applewood Smoked Bacon. We are making a big batch for dinner Thursday!

Butternut Squash Hash with Applewood Smoked Bacon

By Chef Jeff Mall – Zin Restaurant – Healdsburg, CA

1 medium butternut squash – peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion - peeled and diced
2 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon – diced
1 red bell pepper – diced
2 leaves fresh sage- chopped
2 oz. unsalted butter
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
½ cup chicken broth or stock

Heat large skillet over medium heat and cook bacon until almost crisp.
Drain half of the fat. Add butter.
Add chopped onion, red pepper and sage.
Cook until onions are translucent.
Add butternut squash and toss with ingredients.
Add chicken broth and continue to cook until squash is tender.
Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Have a wonderful dinner and be sure to express your gratitude each and every day, not just on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sun Studio and other adventures in THE SOUTH

For all y'all who think they have "done Memphis" by going to Graceland and then to see the ducks swim in the bar fountain at the Peabody Hotel...you have missed out by not going to Sun Studio! We had a BLAST and got to see where Elvis stood when he cut his first "studio" record. The photo above shows that very spot!

We honestly ate ourselves stupid on this trip.

After our day of fried chicken, we ate dried fruit in the car while driving to Brooks Shaw's Country Store at Casey Jones Village, Jackson, TN, a sweet place owned by friends of ours, Clark and Juanita Shaw. Clark's daddy, Brooks, started the store and it has grown into an incredible place to eat home-style cooking and shop for ...Americana! We first learned of their incredible food at a Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium where Clark and Juanita made their famous "Baba's Cracklin' Cornbread" and we ate our weight in cornbread! We mentioned it to Juanita who sent her sister (the one that threw George Harrison out of Carl Perkin's house after Carl's funeral, but that is another story!) to take care of us. Did she EVER!!! Jeff and I were both delivered HOT cornbread along with the hot pockets of joy, fresh fried peach pie! OH LOWDY!!! I could have eaten 10 of them, or died trying! It was revealed that the chef uses dried peaches for the concentrated peach flavor. Whatever he does, it works!!!

Would you believe that all this took place before lunch? We crawled back in the car, with me wondering if I could eat again in the next day, much less in the next hour! That was put to the test when we pulled up at our destination, B.E.Scott's aka Ricky Parker's Whole Hog Barbecue in Lexington, TN. (The link will take you to an interview of Ricky by Southern Foodways Alliance. Ricky wasn't around but his son was and he was kind enough to give us a tour. Don't all tours include dressed pigs? We had an incredible pulled (not chopped - our preference)  pork sandwich...and climbed back in the car and drove back to the Country Store.

They had promised us a "soda fountain treat"...which was!!! The fountain has been deemed one of the best 50 ice cream parlors in the US...so we HAD to try it! I had my all time favorite flavor combo of vanilla ice cream, bananas, fudge sauce, whipped cream and salted nuts! YUM!!!

We got ourselves a cup of coffee, some chocolate walnut fudge for the road (yes, I HAVE been doing Weight Watchers for a YEAR!) and drove back to Memphis where a fabulous dinner at Restaurant Iris awaited us! Can you say "FOOD COMA"???