Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chef Debbie is a Globe Trotter!

Bet'cha didn't know I was a Chef with so many different talents!

I met the legendary Curly Neal and the darling Moo Moo Evans of The Harlem Globetrotters on Friday.

They were at WGRR 103.5FM promoting their 2010 Magical Memories World Tour and they just happened to need another player...

Sweet husband Tim was so jealous!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chef Debbie Talks Turkey With The Bengals

I'll just say that the last couple of months have been slightly hectic and we'll leave it at that.

Vacation in Puerto Vallarta ~ lovely. This photo is from the 2nd floor of one of our favorite bars, The Cheeky Monkey, overlooking the bay. We spent many pleasant hours here sipping $1 margaritas and watching the amazing sunsets.

Torn ACL and partial tear of MCL ~ painful.

Thanksgiving and all of the accoutrement's ~ exhausting.

For the 3rd year in a row, I've had the pleasure of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for Shayne Graham and his Bengal buddies.

So I started cooking the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Peanut butter and banana pies were first up. I've created client monsters when it comes to these pies ~ I have standing orders that whenever I even think about making them, there's a long list of people who expect to be on the short list to receive one.

I also started the cornbread for the cornbread dressing. Using my great~grandma's cast iron skillet and her recipe, I made 12 pounds of cornbread for the 20 pounds of cornbread dressing I needed.

After day one, I'm tired but functional.

Day Two of the countdown to Thanksgiving ~ absolutely must take take off to watch the Bengal's game. Oh Hell! Not one of their better games so now I'll have to drown my sorrows with a few glasses of wine. No more cooking today.

Day Three. Power shopping and the hell that is Costco.

Day Four and down to some serious cooking. Starting to get my second wind ~ or maybe it's a sugar high from all the wine I've been consuming...

The big day rolls around entirely too quickly and I worry. No matter how much food I've bought and prepped, I always worry about running out. I mean, let's face it ~ these are BIG men and the eat like they'd never seen food before.

How much food?

Between a couple of clients and the Bengals:

70 pounds of turkey
30 pounds of potatoes
15 pounds of sweet potatoes
20 pounds of cornbread dressing
9 pounds of green beans
9 pounds of fresh cranberries
26 pies
12 sides
were cooked, consumed and cleaned up.

By the end of Thanksgiving, I was so tired that even my eyelashes hurt.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Chef Debbie Says: Money ≠ Class ~ Part II

If you didn't read Money ≠ Class ~ Part I you may want to before reading Part II.

So, The Jerk, in his 5'3" 140 pound, wimpy, Napoleon~complexed builder importantness shows me through his house. I say house instead of home because the difference is obvious. A home is warm and inviting. The Jerk's house is oversized in every way boasting a faux English medieval decor and that nouveau riche smell that you just can't quite eliminate.

The next day, rather than bother picking up the phone I sent The Jerk an e~mail detailing the courses I'd be serving and giving him a complete description of the place settings he would need. Surprise, surprise. I never heard back from him.

Sous chef, the amazing Ryan, and I arrived to find that he rented a cheap round card table and those mini white hard wooden chairs that nobody's butt fits in. And, he was still in the process of installing hideous giant sconces downstairs in the bar area, making his very pregnant wife carry a step stool down the stairs to him. As I said, he's a Jerk...

But. Not my problem.

China that The Jerk borrowed? Lots of non~matching bowls, coffee saucers, a few salad plates and dinner plates. All in that sickening sweet blue flower design that the grocery store sells as a "Piece of the Week" special.

Whatever. Once again, not my problem.

The Jerk had one volunteer Server instead of the two he was supposed to have. Said Server had no idea what she was supposed to do, and just wanted to stand in the kitchen and talk. Ryan, bless his patient heart, took charge of her. I would have kicked her saggy butt right out the back door.

Oh, and Server said she wasn't going to wash the dishes. Well, don't think I'm going to do them, sweetie!

Thanks to Ryan, the menu was beautiful. I was so disgusted with The Jerk that I just wanted to marinate the pork tenderloin, serve a few mashed sweet potatoes, a green salad and call it a day. Instead, Ryan talked me into this fabulous menu:

Caviar "Blini" with Dilled Egg Salad on Potato ~ Roasted purple and white fingerling potatoes stuffed with dill and Dijon egg salad, topped with creme fraiche and Tobiko caviar

Shrimp Stuffed with Panko and Parmesan ~ Two jumbo shrimp stuffed with a panko~Parmesan mixture, roasted and served on panko crusted fried green tomato slices and a large wedge of charred braised pork belly

Organic Baby Greens Salad ~ Organic baby greens tossed with shallots, sweet and spicy pecans and homemade pomegranate champagne dressing and garnished with shaved red pepper Asiago

Apple and Basil Sorbet ~ This one was all Ryan's baby and it was absolutely amazing! Homemade sorbet flavored with tart green apples and lots of fresh basil and garnished with organic rose petals

Pork 3~Ways:
Pork with Port and Cherry Glaze ~ Pork tenderloin medallions with a Port sauce and marinated cherries served on bourbon~barrel smoked cracked black peppercorn crusted goat cheese slices
Apricot and Pecan Stuffed Pork Tenderloin ~ Pork tenderloin stuffed with a mixture of apricots, pecans, garlic and thyme, served on herbed baked sourdough rounds and drizzled with red chili infused honey
Pork with Tarragon Calvados Cream Sauce ~ Mustard rubbed pork tenderloin, roasted and sliced into medallions and served on sautéed apple slices and garnished with a Tarragon Calvados Cream sauce

Herbed Orzo with Mascarpone Cheese

Roasted Zucchini and Yellow Squash Slices on Rosemary Skewers

Bread Pudding with Sautéed Peaches ~ Bread pudding stuffed with lots of sautéed peaches and tossed in an egg and cream mixture flavored with star anise, cardamon and vanilla sugar

No, Ryan and I did not do the dishes. We scraped, rinsed and left them in the sink. I'm guessing Mrs. Jerk probably got stuck washing them... Once again, not my problem.

Moral of this very long, two part blog: Money Does Not Equal Class.

Never has.

Never will.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Chef Debbie Says: Money ≠ Class ~ Part I

September is finally over. Thank Bacchus!

I had an event booked every weekend, with a couple of weekends double or triple booked. And, every single one of them was fun, full of great people and something I'd definitely do again.

Except one.

Last weekend was my annual charity event where local chefs are given the same ingredients (this year: pork tenderloin, jumbo shrimp, salad greens), assigned a host home and asked to cook for 16~30 people.

I've done this event for the last three years and it's always been a joy to work with the host home, the guests were gracious and the evening a delight.

Until. This. Year.

This year's host (forevermore, now called The Jerk) was rude, condescending and so full of himself that I hated every minute of the time I spent planning, prepping and cooking. I knew I was in trouble when I met The Mother {insert scary witch laugh here} at the Chef~Host Meet & Greet.

Here's how the conversation went:

The Mother: You're soooo fortunate to be assigned to my son's beautiful home. He's an important builder and he's just too important, too busy and too wonderful to waste his time bothering with this blah, blah, blah...

Me: Oh, freaking crap!

The Mother: Continuation of blah, blah, blah, my important son, blah, blah, blah... Oh, and the chefs we've worked with in the past have brought the china, silverware, linens, glassware, servers and extra tables and chairs so I expect you'll be doing the same...

Me: No, actually, the host home is responsible for all of that. I just show up with the food, my sous chef and prepare an amazing meal.

The Mother: Well {with a flick of her lacquered, platinum helmet head}, in the past we've worked with restaurant chefs and they've brought everything. We don't have enough settings so I expect you'll have to bring it.

Me: Gee, let me think... No, sorry. In the past, I've worked in homes where they've entertained on a regular basis and they have always had enough of everything, including space for the guests.

Oh, and by the way, if you weren't such a Mother I'd be happy to bring everything since I have more than enough.

Needless to say, The Mother was not happy with me. Unfortunately, that was the easiest and most polite conversation that I had with anyone in the family.

After sending numerous e~mails to The Jerk without response, I picked up the telephone.

The Jerk: Yeah, I got your e~mails but I'm just too busy and too important to respond. I'm an important builder, you know... blah, blah, blah...

Me: Oh, freaking crap!

The Jerk: And since I'm an important builder, the only time I can meet you is...

So, I clear time out of my day to fit into his schedule. And he cancels the appointment about an hour before we're due to meet. The Jerk then made another appointment although how he can find time in his important builder life is beyond me!

We're scheduled to meet in the middle of the day ~ his choice of day and time.

So I arrive. On time. And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The Jerk shows up a full 30 minutes late and this is what he said (and I'm not ad libbing on this one, this is what he really said): I'm a builder. I didn't call you because my time is more valuable than yours!

And, as you can guess, by now I'm seriously POd. And, not polite about it: You and your time are no more important than mine. I had to leave a client's home in the middle of the day to fit into your schedule and you are so rude you can't even call to tell me you're going to be late!

By now, our relationship is in the toilet....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chef Debbie Says: Just Give Me What I Want & There Won't Be a Problem!

Four years ago I bought a new home range. I paid quite a bit of $$$ for it and it was a huge upgrade from my previous 25~year old one.

In March, one of the burners ~ the large front double burner ~ quit working. As in, hot one second and dead the next! Not a good thing for somebody like me who cooks a lot.

So I called the repair company. They came out and, long story short, didn't have the part I needed.

No problem, I thought, I'll just find it online.

Huh! Seems that EVERY online appliance dealer had that part on back~order.

Interesting, but not impossible. I'll just call the Customer Service department of the company that manufactured it. They've always been responsive and able to help me.

Well. Seems there might be a bit of a problem. Said part is no longer being manufactured, and is on indefinite back~order. You can, I was told, keep calling back to see when the part will be available.

OK sure. I'll call back. After all, I can't be the ONLY person with this problem. Surely they'll realize that thousands of these ranges were manufactured and that a critical component is not working. I mean, what are they going to do about the ranges still under warranty?

After five months of calling every 10 days, I'm fed up. The part is still not being manufactured, isn't going to be manufactured in the foreseeable future and basically I have a $2,000 piece of equipment that is only 75% functioning. And, since the same part is in the other 2 currently (and 1 intermittently) working burners, I'm not holding out a lot of hope that they won't have problems in the very near future...

Now I'm mad. Boiling, pissed off, don't mess with me M. A. D. And, as sweet husband Tim can attest, pissing me off is not a good way to start, end or have in any part of your day.

So I wrote a letter. A very detailed letter describing exactly what happened when and what I tried to do to solve the problem. Sent said letter to the top marketing person at the manufacturer. Very simply stated that I'm going to start talking to EVERY PERSON I see about this problem. And I know a lot of people.

Mr. Marketing Person called me and assured me that they would take care of the problem ~ one way or another. So they looked for the part. And looked. And looked. There isn't one to be found anywhere.

Received another call from the company. Seems I can go online and pick out the replacement range I'd like to have, it will be delivered and the old one pulled.

So, my friends, bottom line here. If you have a legitimate complaint and Customer Service can't ~ or won't ~ solve the problem, make sure the marketing people know about it. Keep track of what you've done to attempt to correct the problem yourself, be fair and respectful and then just politely suggest that you're going to talk to EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU KNOW about your problem.

It worked for me ~ but then again I am a persistent PITA until I get what I want!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chef Debbie's Summer Escapades: All In One Yummy~issimo! Blog

No your eyes are not deceiving you! This is actually a NEW Yummy! blog!

It's only been 2 1/2 months since my last blog, and there's been absolutely nothing going on... if you believe that, I have a bridge for sale...

So what's been happening in Yummy~ville?

Well, we went to the Fancy Food Show in NYC in June. Stayed with sweet husband Tim's sister, Judy and her teddy bear husband, Alan. We spent several days playing in the city and then ate and drank our way through the FFS. I didn't think it was possible that I'd ever get tired of luscious, creamy, double bleu cheese...

For those of you who followed Hell's Kitchen and the foul mouthed chef contestants trying to win the opportunity to work for (and turn into a mini) Gordon Ramsey, this is Petroza who was signing autographs at the FFS for a condiment vendor. I always thought he seemed like the only "normal" contestant on the show!

Back in Cincinnati with the suitcases barely unpacked, it was time for me to leave for New Orleans for my USPCA National Conference. How fun is it to eat and drink your way through such an amazing food city with 300 of your closest foodie friends!

Spent a good bit of time with one of my favorite people in the world, Liz Geeslin and her clan, the Kitchen Bitches!

Besides the AMAZING food at some of New Orleans' premier restaurants like K-Paul's, Brigtsen's and The Acme Oyster Co., I was fortunate to meet Lisa Brisch's fabulous husband, Jim, who is one of the nicest, easy~going and funny men around! (Sorry Lisa ~ but I don't have to LIVE with him, so he seemed just about perfect to me...)

It had been two years since I'd seen KB Lisa and had never met Jim ~ but I certainly hope it's not another two years until I see them again!

And, finally, to bring you up to date... the bottling process has finally begun!

Yeah, yeah, I know! I've been saying for several years that I was going to work on bottling a couple of products. But after meeting some vendors at the FFS in June, as well as tasting many new products (that I humbly believe aren't as good as mine are) the process has begun!

I'm working on several Gourmet Spreads ~ they can be used as a sandwich spread, salad dressing or a veggie dip. The first batch of samples were given out last week and here are a few of the initial comments:

Holy Jesus! I just wanted to eat it by the spoonful right out of the jar!

I had to hide this from my husband because he almost ate the entire jar by himself!

This is so amazing! When can I start stocking it here?

The flavors that my tasting panel will have to endure in the next couple of weeks:

Roquefort Sherry

Basil Parmesan

Asiago Cracked Peppercorn

Mediterranean (Feta and fenugreek).

My hope is to have two flavors on store shelves before the end of the year ~ not sure which two flavors yet, but everyone seemed to love the Roquefort Sherry.

OK, so now you're all up to date and you can quit "reminding" me that I haven't written a blog in a while, or mentioning to sweet husband to tell me it's time to write a blog!

There's a lot of fun and exciting things coming up in the next few months ~ events and parties planned every weekend in September and most of October, my BIRTHDAY (hint, hint), a radio remote with my sweet friend Queen Janeen at Meijer and, I sincerely hope, a VACATION in late October.

I promise to blog more ~ well, at least more than once every 10 weeks or so...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chef Debbie Is NOT Hiring At The Moment!

So I'm pulling into the parking lot of the grocery store ~ for the second time today. And a freaky young woman (late teens, early 20s) in a very short short skirt (cheeks are visible), muffin top, flippy flops and a mane of bleached blond, stringy, greasy unwashed hair walks right out in front of me.

I slam on the brakes, honk the horn (well, lay on it long and loud) and throw my arms up in the air.

She gave me the finger ~ and a very dirty look.

So I mutter a few of my favorite words under my breath, pull into my parking space, get out and walk around to the passenger side to get my eco~friendly bags, shopping list and the all~important Yummy debit card.

Same freaky woman is coming over to me. Uh oh! Does she have walker's rage? Is she going to spit on me? I was a little nervous but refused to get back in the Yummy~mobile and hide like a little girl. And, hiding in a big Ford Expedition wrapped in a large garlic clove with my name and logo all over it is, well, impossible.

I apologize for walking out in front of you. I was listening to my iPod and wasn't paying attention.
Uh, ok. It's just this is a very busy road and people typically aren't walking around out there.
Hey! I see you are a personal chef. I graduated from culinary school ~ I went to the CAA in New York ~ and am looking for a job. Are you hiring?
Um, well, er, uh, the economy's so bad....
Yeah. I'm getting that a lot.
She blows a large bubble from the gum she's been chomping, pops it with her finger and uses her tongue to pull all the gum back into her mouth.
Well, good luck with the job search.
I'm heading into the store here to put in a job application. Do you know anyone in there? Can you give me a recommendation?
OK. It's seriously time to get out of here!
Gee, no, I'm sorry. I don't shop here a whole lot {fingers and toes crossed}, but good luck.

Off she goes, into the grocery store, with mini skirt, flippy flops, greasy hair and finger playing with her bubble gum.

Whew! She wasn't hired ~ but I did check with the store manager just to make sure.

So if you know of anyone who's looking for a female trying to stuff 20 pounds of flour into a 5 pound sack, with greasy bleached blond hair and who can chew gum and pop the largest bubbles with the best of them, I've got the gal for you!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chef Debbie's Amazing Dinner at Radio Milano

Do you Twitter? I started just a couple of months ago am finding it addictive.

If you're so inclined, you can follow me at ChefDebbieCPC. I Tweet about my blog, recipes, the cook day or anything else I can say in just 140 characters at a time.

I follow lots of foodie people around the world ~ restaurants, chefs, food writers, etc. and when I happened to mention a couple of weeks ago that sweet husband and I would be in Scottsdale this week, I received a Tweet from Radio Milano.

So sweet husband and I left our resort paradise to have dinner at Radio Milano ~ and, boy, are we glad we did!

My food photos didn't turn out very well ~ not sure if it was the second glass of wine or the lighting. The service from the instant we arrived (free valet parking) to immediately being greeted at the door to our super server, Les, was stellar.

The menu is small but packed full of interesting choices. Sweet husband started with the roasted red pepper soup followed by a beautiful, perfectly cooked piece of roasted halibut served over sautéed spinach. A generous splash of the grilled lemon accompaniment and sweet husband was very happy.

I'm never one to pass up an opportunity for pasta and I certainly wasn't disappointed. When I'm in a new restaurant, I always ask the server what his/her favorite entrée is and I'm rarely unhappy with the choice. Our server last night was Les and I can honestly say if he wasn't such a talented musician, he could make a bloody fortune as a server. Attentive, knowledgeable about the menu and not too bad on the eyes, his recommendation of the linguine and clams was spot on.

Baby clams ~ lots and lots of baby clams ~ were tossed with a perfect prepared al denté linguine and all tossed in a light white wine, olive oil, butter and garlic sauce. In many restaurants the white sauce is heavy but here all I wanted was 3~4 more loaves of bread to soak up the sauce. Sometimes I embarrass myself when I pick up the plate and lick it clean so I (occasionally) try to act dignified and use bread to finish the job.

Even though we shouldn't have, and really didn't need it, we finished our wonderful dinner with the radio chocolate pudding ~ a creamy confection of chocolate decadence topped with an espresso meringue. We fought over the last bite!

So thanks to my new foodie friends, Daniel (the general manager), Joe (Twitter expert extraordinaire) and Les, super server. It was a wonderful dinner and Tim and I can't wait to return and try an entire new array of delightful delicacies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chef Debbie's Spoiled Brat Vacation Update

Spoiled brat is back, and back with a vengeance!

Whew! It's been a long time since spoiled brat has made an appearance and I was afraid she was gone for good...

This is the view from our balcony. The trees directly below us are full of hummingbirds and I love sitting outside in the afternoon visiting with Bacchus and watching the hummers zip by.

Yesterday we went to the Phoenix Botanical Garden and they are featuring an amazing Chihuly exhibit spaced all throughout the catci. His work has been carefully placed to enhance the natural beauty, grace and color of the surroundings.

I took 200+ photos of the catci, flowers and butterflies.

Here's one of the Chihuly glass exhibits and it's over 30' tall. Unbelievable! I'm can't imagine how they shipped some of these pieces. I can barely get a dozen wine glasses from point A to point B without breaking some!

So sweet husband and I just got back from dinner at Meritage Steak House. We skipped lunch so we could eat there and we still couldn't finish our entrées.

Dinner was prix fixes with soup, salad or cheese course, main entrée with starch and roasted asparagus and a choice of 7~layer chocolate cake or crème brûlée.

I had the smoked prime rib (every bit of 14oz which I couldn't even begin to finish) and it came with the most sinful sour cream~blue cheese~horseradish cream, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Maple crème brûlée to finish dinner ~ cuz you just have to have something sweet at the end of a meal.

Tomorrow is another day in paradise. Up around 6:00 a.m.

Funny how I don't complain about getting up here at 6:00 a.m. to walk for 60 minutes while at home getting up that early going to work is, well, just work!

So tomorrow morning. Walk 60 minutes. Chef prepared breakfast. Pool for a couple of hours. Shade for weenie red head Debbie. Downtown Scottsdale for lunch and pop into a few shops. Back to the hotel to clean up and dinner at Radio Milano here in Phoenix.

Just another day in paradise.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chef Debbie's Easter Hodgepodge Blog

Today's blog is full of chatty little blurbs.

This is finally the last weekend of tax season.

Sweet husband, Tim, has been working 7 days a week since mid~February and it'll be nice to see him for more than about 10 minutes a day before he falls into bed.

Yesterday, I drove over to Indiana to meet my dear foodie friend and personal chef extraordinaire, Liz Geeslin, of In Good Taste Personal Chef Service in Lebanon, IN.

We met in Shelbyville for lunch at a bookstore~cafe called Three Sisters Books & Gifts located in the public square circle.

It's a darling place ~ not a frilly, foufou place ~ that is actually owned by three sisters. They specialize in panini sandwiches and homemade desserts ~ I had the cherry~chocolate cake which was light and fluffy and oh, so good! If you're ever in the area, it's well worth slogging through the road construction to stop in for coffee and dessert.

The weather is finally going to be nice for the weekend ~ but next week it's going to rain almost every day! If you're boiling eggs to hide for the kiddies on Easter morning, boil a few more and try this client favorite:

Deviled Egg Salad with Dill
Makes 12 servings

12 large eggs
2T shallot, finely minced
1/4c mayonnaise
1/4c sour cream
1T Dijon mustard
2T flat leaf parsley, chopped
3T fresh dill, chopped
2T chives, chopped
kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Place eggs in single layer in large Dutch oven. Add enough cold water just to cover the eggs. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat ~ water will have large rapidly breaking bubbles. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 14 minutes. Drain and run cold water over eggs until cool enough to handle. Drain and peel eggs.

Grate eggs using large hole side of box grater. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

I've had several clients over the last week asking what a personal chef has for a holiday dinner. Well. That's an interesting question for this time of year.

I'm making Marinated Baby Lamb Chops for my clients' Easter dinner but with sweet husband working all day, and the small fact that he's not a huge fan of lamb, we're going non~traditional for Easter dinner.

Yep. About as non~traditional as you can get. Ham & Beans with homemade jalapeno cornbread. And lots of chopped onion on the side. It is difficult, though, to find a proper wine to go with Ham & Beans!

If you like Lamb Chops, this is what my clients are having for Easter Dinner:

Marinated Baby Lamb Chops with Cucumber~Mint Relish
Serves 4

8 baby lamb chops
1/2c olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2t dried rosemary, chopped
1/4c fresh mint leaves, chopped
1T lemon juice
1t salt

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, small diced
1T salt
1/4c onion, minced
1/4c red bell pepper, chopped
1/4c fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/4c rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Prepare relish: Place diced cucumber in fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and let drain for 1 hour. Pat dry with paper towels and place in a clean bowl. Add remaining relish ingredients and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours. Stir well to serve.

Place lamb chops in large zip~lock bag. In small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, rosemary, mint, lemon juice and salt. Pour marinade over lamb chops, seal and refrigerate up to 8 hours.

Preheat broiler. Place lamb chops on broiler pan and cook until medium~rare, approximately 2~3 minutes per side depending upon thickness of the chops. Remove from oven and serve with cucumber~relish.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chef Debbie's Dumped Strawberry Muffins

I found myself with a plethora of strawberries and an extra hour on a Sunday.

As many of you know, I hate to bake. No. Let me clarify that. I HATE to bake.

There. That's better.

In the past, I've called myself a dump cook. I dump it in and cook it!

So when I found this recipe online, with just a few tweaks here and there, I was able to dump together these super~simple, delicious muffins.

Chef Debbie's Dumped Strawberry Muffins
Makes 16 muffins

2 1/2c all~purpose flour
1c whole wheat flour
1c sugar
1t salt
1T + 1t baking powder
1t cinnamon
3c chopped strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2c canola oil
1c milk
2 eggs
1/2c brown sugar
1t vanilla
zest of 1 lemon

If you're using frozen strawberries, allow them to thaw a little and then chop.

Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tin with paper liners.

In large bowl combine flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir together well.

Add chopped strawberries to flour mixture and toss well to coat all strawberries with flour.

In small bowl combine oil, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk together well. Pour wet mixture into flour mixture and stir until well blended.

Fill muffin cups almost to top. Bake 25~28 minutes or until the tops bounce back when touched and are golden brown. Remove from oven, cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chef Debbie's "Notes to Self"

I've got to quit answering my phone!

I know it's not April Fool's Day. Yet. Maybe I'm on an episode of Punk'd?

Yesterday's phone call:

Hi, this is Debbie.

Hi Debbie. I'm looking to hire a personal chef but have a very specific requirement.

No problem. I can handle your special dietary needs, medically restricted diets or picky children. Bring it on.

Note to self ~ NEVER say Bring it on again!

Well... we really don't have any special dietary requirements and the children will eat anything we put in front of them. No, this is more about our house rule.

Uh, OK. What is the house rule?

We never wear shoes in the house and we require everyone who enters to remove his shoes also.

Well, does the garage enter into the laundry room and/or kitchen so that I won't be walking on your carpet?

No, you don't understand. We do not allow shoes anywhere in the house.

Dead silence on my end.

Hello? Are you there?

OK. Let me get this straight. You want me to schlep in heavy boxes of equipment, work on a hard kitchen floor all day without any type of foot support and, let's not forget, work with razor sharp knives that I could drop onto MY unprotected feet and toes or carry heavy pots of boiling water that I could easily spill when I slip on something because I don't have my non~skid shoes on? That type of "we don't allow shoes anywhere in the house" rule?


What I said: I'm sorry but I'm not the personal chef you're looking for. Good luck, though. I hope there's someone out there who can help you.

What I wanted to say: Have they let all the kooks out of Kookville today? Are you freaking nuts? How much insurance do you have because when I drop my chef's knife and chop off a few of MY toes, I intend to develop a very intimate relationship with your insurance adjuster!

Kooks in Kookville. That's a good one ~ I gotta remember that one!

Note to self ~DO NOT answer the phone on April Fool's Day!

I need another martini!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chef Debbie is in Your Face!

You can't open the paper, drive down the highway or go to the grocery store without seeing my smiling face everywhere you look!

I received a phone call from Queen Janeen, the queenly half of the WGRR Married With Microphones morning team.

Seems that she saw one of the billboards while driving down to work one morning.

And, at 4:30 in the a.m., seeing my face 15' tall in 4~color with that screaming yellow background, well it's amazing there haven't been a few multi~car pileups!

If it were just a few billboards all over town, then you'd be able to avoid me.

But nooooo. In fact, everywhere you look, I'm right there looking back atcha!

In the front section of the Sunday Enquirer, in all that yellow 4~color glory. In the Door Store. Online on the bigg's website. In the store ads.

Is this my 15 minutes of fame? I'm ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chef Debbie Says Urrrgh!

What is it with people these days!

Do I have a sign on my forehead that proclaims "Yes! I LOVE spending hours planning your party so you can give my menu to your friend who's a fabulous cook."

This has happened twice in the last couple of weeks ~ and I'm not happy about it. In fact, I'm downright PO'd.

The first one was a small dinner party for 20. Black tie servers, beef tenderloin, scallops gratin, appetizers and the rest of the goodies.

Her phone call..

Uh Debbie? I have a friend who's a "fabulous cook" and said she could do my dinner with your menu for only $30 per person. You've quoted me a lot more and I wonder if you could match her price.
Yeah right. If I bought ground round at Costco and told you it was tenderloin. And used cheese in a can. And finished off the rest of the dinner with samples from McDonalds, Taco Bell and made snow ice cream.
I'm sorry if I gave you the impression my price is negotiable. I've spent years perfecting my trade and can guarantee that your meal would be of the quality of one of Cincinnati's finest dining establishments.
I also have a $1million liability insurance policy in the very small chance that I'd break something in your home or that one of your guests would become ill from something I cooked. If you have a price of $30 per person for my menu, then you should go with your friend.
I highly suggest you ask if she has liability insurance ~ just in case.

About that same time, I received a phone call from a local organization who needed a very large, black tie, super elegant event. Servers, valet service, sous chefs, you name it. I was going to need about 20 people, not including the valet service. And elegant, gourmet, sophisticated, eye~popping food and decor for 175.

So I put together a killer menu. More than 20 passed canapes, raw seafood bar, dessert and chocolate fondue bar, sushi bar, blini bar, and don't forget the cocktail bar.

They loved the menu. And. Then. Nothing.

Until the phone call.

Hi. This is Debbie.
Hi Deb. I'm calling about the event.
I could probably lose my job over this but I felt you needed to know what was going on here.
Uh oh. That's never good when somebody starts the conversation with I could lose my job over this, but...
OK. Tell me. Did you change the date, decide to change the menu, what?
No, we love the menu. I mean we really LOVE the menu. But my boss has a friend who...
Here it comes. I know what's going to fall out of her mouth now. a caterer and said she'd take your menu and beat your quote by 15% automatically.
Visions of my good 12" chef's knife sticking out of the caterer's back dance through my head. Oh wait. The caterer wouldn't know what my menu was unless somebody gave it to her.
Thank you so much for calling ~ I know it must have been a difficult decision for you but I truly appreciate it. I have spent over 8 hours pricing this out already and could have easily spent another day or more working on it. Not to mention the time it takes my vendors to give me their prices.
So what would you have done? Sweet devious husband said I should give a quote of around $2000 for the entire event. And then back out.

While I would never never never do anything like that, I must admit that in the far back reaches of my once~in~a~while mean streak, that did sound like good fun!

But. I've decided, the old idiom is true. What goes around, comes around.

I just hope I'm around to see it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chef Debbie Has Gas Issues!

So. I really don't endorse products or services.

Unless it's a family owned small business grocer, butcher or farm market. Like my buddy, De Stewart, at Herbs & Spice located in historic Findlay Market.


bigg's has introduced a new customer incentive program called bigg's Pump Perks®.

The incentive program has only been in effect for two weeks. And, this is THE BEST customer incentive program they could have ever devised for ME.

For every $10 you spend, you receive .01 (one cent) off of 20 gallons of gas at Sunoco. And, then there are the incentive items. Purchase certain items and receive an additional .01~.15 cents off PER GALLON of gas.

Last week, the first week of the program, I bought my normal weekly client groceries on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Had to fill up on Thursday morning.

Gas was $1.77/gallon. I paid $1.02/gallon for 20 gallons.

Not bad. In fact, after the last couple of years, paying just $1.02/gallon for gas is down right freaking great.

Today gas was $1.95/gallon. I paid $0.019 ~ yes, less then 2 cents per gallon ~ for 20 gallons.

In other words, I paid a mere 38 cents for 20 gallons of gas today.

Finally, it's more than a job going to the grocery store.

And when you drive something as big as the Yummy~mobile, paying less than 2 cents per gallon of gas is a really really good thing!

The down side of this program? I can't ever travel again. Imagine paying full price for a gallon of gas!

Yes. Spoiled brat is back.

Oh, by the way.

Look for a familiar smiling Chef face in this weekend's bigg's Pump Perks® weekly newspaper ads.