Cheftovers Live! Demos on the Marty Allen Show

It’s good to know people.  And I’ve been fortunate enough to be introduced to a lot of good people through my work in television over the years.  During my first internship (like a hundred years ago!) I met veteran radio producer, Marty Allen.  He and I have maintained a friendship throughout the twists and turns in our careers.  And he was generous enough to offer up an opportunity for me to appear on his show and share what I’ve been up to with Cheftovers.  “3-2-1….we’re live!”

marty Allen photo

Marty has an internet radio show, The Marty Allen Show that airs live every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 2-3pm.  He invited me to come on and do some cooking.

“Do you have a kitchen in your studio?” I asked.

“Guess I didn’t think this through,” he replied.

Not a problem.  I’ll figure something out,” I said, convinced.

I also saw this as an opportunity for a long time friend, and fellow food blogger, Michelle, of The Secret Ingredient Is.  So I asked her to join me.  Who needs a working kitchen to perform live demos on a radio show, right?! We had a small card table and some outlets.  Time to adapt.

Michelle cooking

I knew Marty well enough to know that it would go over well to start with a cocktail.  Easy.  That’s when I came up with the recipe I posted earlier in the week for a Berry Boozy Arnold Palmer.

berry-boozy-arnold-palmer

I mixed a couple of those up while Michelle walked Marty and his co-host, Bill Bender, through her recipe for her No Bake Energy Bites.  Then it was time for some more significant eats…prepared on a 4×4 card table in a radio studio, mind you.  Having been a part of countless cooking demos on television before, I suggested Michelle do one of her killer salads.  Easy to prep and it doesn’t have to be hot.

pretzel crusted honey mustard chicken

She assembled and dressed her Honey Mustard Pretzel Crusted Chicken Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette for a couple of hungry hosts.  It’s a great summer salad.  And as she dished that out, carefully avoiding all the expensive equipment, I fired up the panini press.  In preparing for this appearance, I figured it would be a great tool to turn Michelle’s leftovers into something else equally tasty.  (and work around that whole, “no kitchen” thing)

prepping panini

I sliced up the Orlando Ciabatta Rolls I brought, then piled on some of her leftover chicken, a handful of spinach leaves from the salad, and the remainder of the Brie wheel.  Then to add my own touch, I prepared a balsamic mayo by mixing about 2 T. of garlic cilantro balsamic vinegar with roughly a 1/4 cup of mayo. (the ratio is up to your own taste).  And finally, I included one of my favorite things in the world, caramelized onions.

grilling panini

While that melted together on the press, Michelle and I got to chat up Marty and Bill about what we do on our blogs.  They were happy to have us do most of the talking, as their mouths were full with our good food!

sliced panini

I sliced and served up the fourth and final recipe, pleased that this turned out as well (and as delicious) as I’d hoped, given the fact that this was the first time I’d made it…live on the radio.

This experience was a blast, and a boost of confidence for me.  I starting to think that I can indeed figure out a way to marry my experience in the media with my passion for food.  “Stay tuned” as we say, for what I have on tap next.  (I’m behind the camera for the first time since college!)

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Bistro Panini

I love a good grilled panini.  And like lots of other Cheftovers tricks, it’s kind of a blank canvas.  Add your favorite creamy cheese to a crispy, chewy ciabatta roll, along with whatever veggies and meat move you…and you’re in business!  

This week I used one of my got-to’s for weekday meals, a roast in the slow cooker.  I made a London broil roast with pretty basic seasoning.  But as is often the case, I made more than we needed for just two of us.

sliced roast

So I sliced up the rest of the beef and immediately began drooling over my idea, incorporating one of the tasty Orlando baked goods I came across during my review of their new products (see previous post).  I was going to grill up a couple of paninis using their Heat & Serve Ciabatta Rolls.

ciabatta rolls 

Now that I had the canvas for my panini, (the rolls) and the protein (my leftover London broil) I was excited to find a couple of other elements to boost the tastiness factor.  And I knew caramelized onions would have to join the party!

sliced onions

I sliced up a whole sweet onion into rings, then tossed a couple tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil into a saute pan.  I added the onions to the pan, seasoned them and left them on a low-medium heat for about 90 minutes, stirring them only once every 15 min or so.

(Here’s the part of my process where I unload the dishwasher, feed my kids, flip the laundry, etc.  I’m so glamorous.)

caramelized onions

When the onions turned this beautiful color, I was ready for the final components.  I found the chunk of creamy Havarti cheese that my husband picked up at the grocery store this week to snack on.  But I got to it first!   And I was sure this would be a super compliment to what I was drumming up.  Now for a sauce, spread or condiment…couldn’t be something ordinary.

panini condiments

I decided to try two routes…using a deli horseradish sauce for sandwiches (something we like to keep around the house) and I was also going to mix up a balsamic mayo.  I have developed quite a collection of balsamic vinegar varieties in my cupboard… I’ve got Sicilian Lemon and Mango white balsamic, chocolate, and raspberry.  I don’t find use for them often, but when I do, they’re usually the MVP of the dish.  For this panini, I liked the garlic cilantro one.  I mixed a couple spoonfuls of olive oil mayo with a couple teaspoons of the balsamic vinegar….oooh yeah, that was what I was going for!   balsamic mayo spread

grilling the panini

I assembled two sandwiches using a couple slices of Havarti, a spoonful of caramelized onions, three slices of my leftover roast, and one of the spreads on each.  Then I placed them on my panini press and eagerly awaited their gooey goodness.  They sat on the grill for about 5 minutes until I saw those pretty grill marks on the outside of the ciabatta rolls.  Know that the contents may slide out a bit, or ooze out a little.

bistro panini with carmelized onions

Now it was pay off time, and it was sweet!  These were warm, chewy, tangy and sweet.  And the best part?  I have more of all of the ingredients so I can make this again.

“Freezer Games”

I’ve been given a challenge, a culinary challenge actually.  And I plan on tackling it with the tenacity and focus of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss in “The Hunger Games.”  

In an effort to curb the grocery bill, my husband (responsibly) asked that I try to shop a little smarter.  You see, leftovers aren’t my only game.  I have a weakness for cookbooks, and each week I try to make a couple of new recipes outside of my normal comfort zone.  But that often means buying up ingredients I don’t usually keep in my kitchen.  And that adds quite a bit to my final tally at the check-out line.  So, I’m going to hunker down and take a good hard look at the collection in my fridge, see what’s buried in the back of my freezer, and examine the odds and ends in my pantry.

There are still plenty of proteins in the house, thanks to a couple of BOGO deals at the grocery store and the remnants of my parents’ freezer (See previous post “Snowbird Special”).  I’ve got several chicken breasts, plus thighs and tenderloins, a couple of pork chops, a can of black beans, and Slovenian sausage.  So that’s a great start.

Other things in the freezer that will come in handy in my “frugal gourmet” campaign: home made pesto, pasta sauce and meatballs that I make ahead and freeze, frozen peas and snap peas, almonds, lots of frozen berries, pasta,  and cauliflower puree (which I sneak into recipes to boost the veggie-value of things like mac n cheese)

A collection of things catch my eye in the fridge…some savory chutney I have leftover from a pork tenderloin recipe I made, whole grain mustard, salsa verde, a pair of sweet white wines that were gifted to me (and I’ll never drink) caperberries, cocktail onions, and whole jar of jalapeno slices.

In the pantry there are plenty of things I should make use of, if not for the sake of my mission, then for the sake of making space in there.

bread crumbs

Before I even begin to tackle a dish, I remove the two bags of hot dog buns from freezer and make a batch of home made bread crumbs.  (See previous post “Quick Flips”)  I know those will come in handy, likely on Super Bowl Sunday…something will surely need to be breaded and fried on that junk food holiday.

Plum vida

Among the seemingly disjointed things I found, was a box of Plum Vida pouches.  They’re organic fruit/veggies blends.  I bought them thinking my girls would suck them down as quickly as they do the apple sauce “squeezies” they go through like water.  They did not.  But I took a look at the label and saw they contained cherries, berries, beets and ginger (Bonus: 3g of fiber, 1/2 c. fruits and veggies, and only 80 calories in each pouch)  Seemed like the perfect sweet/savory base for a sauce that would pair perfectly with the pork that I was defrosting.

shallots

So I started experimenting.  I chopped up some shallots (about a tablespoon), and added them to a saute pan with some hot olive oil.  Once those softened, I poured in about a half a cup of chicken stock, and a heaping tablespoon of apple balsamic vinegar.  (I’ve been wondering where and when I’d use that gift! Apple is another fruity flavor that goes great with pork)

apple balsamic vinegar

I let that reduce for a few minutes then emptied the contents of one 5 oz. Plum Vida pouch.  I left that at medium heat and let that bubble up, thicken, and reduce for a few minutes.  Then I tasted my concoction.  Wow.  I’d eat that!

Plum sauce

Last step was incorporating the pork.  Easy.  I just seasoned the pork chops with salt and pepper and seared them in a hot pan with oil.  Once those were browned on both sides, I added them to the pan with the sauce (an emptied the bits in the pan) and let them hang out together for a while.  Just a few minutes, covered, and they were ready to go.

Now, what to do with the rest of my inventory...Guess you’ll have to stay tuned.  And please, take a second look at what I’ve listed above and tell me what strikes you.  Based on what I have in the house, what direction should I go next? (instead of back to the grocery store!)