New (to Me) Blogger on the Block Thursdays

by Cate on March 10, 2006

Bravo TV’s new show, Top Chef, premiered yesterday, and I happened to catch the first episode and am already hooked. Hosted by Katie Lee Joel, it’s a new cook vs. cook reality show that’s a cross between Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and FoodTV Network’s Next FoodTV Star. It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at the kitchen and restaurant industry, along with the fierce competition among the contestants. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with the choice of which contestant got eliminated first. Buh-bye! Lots of good links on the website, including recipes of some of the contestants dishes, which I like.

Besides being Mrs. Billy Joel (sorry, as a devout Billy Joel fan, I can’t help but mention that!), Katie Lee has quite the diverse culinary background for someone so young. Everything from the prerequisite waiting tables to being a fishmonger, her and a friend also run the website, Olive and Peach. Check it out when you can – many fantastic recipes are there, and I’ll be starting with the scrumptious sounding Rosemary Biscotti that Katie gave out at her wedding.

For this week’s edition of Rediscovering My Library, I turned to Southern Living 1991 Annual Recipes. Although it’s 15 years old, I actually just got this cookbook a few months ago. A freecycler was getting rid of 10 years worth of Southern Living and Cooking Light annuals and I was all too happy to take them off her hands. If you want your very own copy, there’s actually a bunch of them available on Amazon now, starting at 23 cents – go grab a bargain!

I was looking for an easy pasta dish for tonight, and one that would use ingredients I had on hand to keep with my “cooking out of my pantry” challenge. I found just what I needed in the Spinach Pesto Pasta. It came together very quickly, and if you call it Pesto Pasta, no one will know they’re eating spinach. Sneaky Mom strikes again – Nicholas ate almost a whole plateful and was none the wiser.

I had some butternut squash on hand, and also tried a recipe for Caramelized Butternut Squash, another new one that was unfortunately a dud. They can’t all be winners. ;) And lastly, cooling on the kitchen counter is a batch of Creamy Key Lime Bars, a recipe I got from Culinary in the Desert. Since I brought back some authentic Key Lime Juice from our recent vacation to Key West, this was the perfect inaugural recipe for it. It’s been an ultra-rough week at the office, and I think this is just the ticket to end the week on a high note. No review yet, since they won’t be tested until tomorrow.

Since it’s Thursday, it’s time for my next nod for New (to Me) Blogger on the Block Thursday. This week, it’s time for you to discover Cream Puffs in Venice, if you haven’t already had the pleasure. From the Black Bean Soup she made on Tuesday (which would have been a perfect entry for our weekly ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday), or the orange yogurt from the Barefoot Contessa, it was definitely the Apple and Bread Crumb Pie that got me hooked. I know you’ll find just the thing for your tastebuds too.

OK folks, all for tonight. I’m exhausted and calling it a night. Until tomorrow…

A year ago today … I made Sweetnicks Shrimp Scampi Braised in Olive Oil. It’s great by itself with hot, crusty bread for sauce mopping, or served over pasta.

Spinach Pesto Pasta
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon anise seed, ground (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (12 ounce) package egg noodles

Drain spinach on paper towels. Combine spinach and next 9 ingredients in food processor bowl fitted with knife blade. Process 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the processor bowl once. Cook noodles according to package directions; drain well. Add pesto to hot noodles, tossing gently. Serve immediately. Yield 8-10 servings.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvie March 10, 2006 at 2:49 am

I really wanted to watch Top Chef last night but I couldn’t stay awake knowing how early I had to get up for work. I’ll have to tape it next time.


Cate March 10, 2006 at 3:04 am

Sylvie – I hope you watch it. It’s really good. Their first challenge, they were each “on the line” to see how long they last, and then they had to prepare their “signature dish.” Definitely a lot more contestants with a food-industry background of some sort, as opposed to people trying to break into the field. Good TV all around.


Gourmetish March 10, 2006 at 12:00 pm

I don’t know whether or not to say that I’m mad or jealous that Katie Joel is the host. She’s exactly my age (which is too young for Billy Joel) and we got married on the same day and are both foodies. I just think they could have found someone with more professional culinary experience. She has no personality on the show.

It should be an interesting season, though. You should post on it weekly. I’d love to hear what you think about the show.



Ivonne March 11, 2006 at 1:31 am


What an honour … thank you!

And that pasta recipe … oh yes it’s going in my binder of recipes to try soon!


Cate March 11, 2006 at 3:47 am

No problem, Ivonne; glad to do it. Hope you try out the pasta recipe – it’s a keeper for us.


farmgirl May 29, 2006 at 1:00 pm

That spinach pesto sounds absolutely scrumptious–and so simple. Can’t believe I never thought to make it–and that I somehow missed this post the first time around! I can see myself eating this A LOT. Thanks! : )


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