Posts Tagged ‘Food Network’


Learn to Cook by Video

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 by Clair

IMG_1031Did you know that not only can you learn to become a better cook by taking any number of our classes, reading our blogs, watching our live video Google+ Hangout videos but also through the video library located on our website? Well, now you do!

I had the honor of helping Chef Shelley Young last week during some of these video shoots.  As I was watching the shoots unfold, I felt like I was seeing what goes on behind the scenes of a taping of a Food Network show.

me and syHere’s what you will see in some of the future videos.  You’ll be able to learn how to make the perfect crepe and fill it with a delicious spinach and cheese mixture, trim, sear & cook a whole beef tenderloin to the perfect temperature and make some really awesome Gluten-Free Butternut Squash & Brown Sugar Muffins. These were so yummy, as you can tell by the photo of the taste test done by me and Shelley. I would never have known there was no flour in them if I hadn’t done the mise en place for it myself.

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash and Brown Sugar Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Active time: 20 minutes

Start to finish: 40 minutes

1 3/4 cup brown rice flour mix

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

xanthangum3/4 teaspoon xanthan (commonly used as a food thickening agent)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

2 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup +2 tablespoons grape seed oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup butternut squash purée (see note, below)

Brown sugar, for crumbling on top

  1. Preheat the oven to 325º and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the brown rice flour mix, sugar, baking soda, xanthan, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and allspice.
  3. In a medium-size bowl whisk together the eggs, water, oil, maple syrup and butternut squash purée.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just blended.
  5. Fill the muffin tins until they are 3/4 full and top with a crumbling of brown sugar.
  6. Bake until the tops are springy to the touch, about 20 minutes.

NOTE: To make butternut squash purée preheat your oven to 375º. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Roast until the squash is knife tender, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool. Scoop the meat out of the skin and place in a bowl. Use a potato masher to make a smooth purée.

What cooking technique or recipe would you like to see Shelley explain in an upcoming video?

Clair Smith is a Lead Chef's Assistant at The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart and Lincoln Square locations. After being a long time student, Clair joined the TCB team in 2006. When she's not helping people learn how to cook, she enjoys traveling, camping, and entertaining family and friends. Clair lives in Hyde Park with her husband Ken and her cat named 'Kitty'. She loves Mexican cuisine and her "go to" dish of the moment is Pozole.


TV & Wine Night

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 by Andrea L

I have a confession to make.  I have the absolute worst taste in TV in the history of all viewers.  I’m actually a Real Housewives fanatic!  BH and NYC all the way (but retro NYC because I miss Bethenny) and furthermore, pretty much anything BRAVO airs, I’m smelling. I love my fair share of the Food Network, too! Who doesn’t love Chopped and all of the 26 shows now starring Anne Burrell—my boyfriend totally has a crush on her too!  Each week on Chef Wanted he eagerly waits to see what dress she will be sporting from the Dress Barn as she screams at the next wannabe about how their food “Came out of the lawn more bag!”  However, and I am ashamed to admit this but I will… I, Andrea Larson, am addicted to ABC’s The Bachelor.

So, how am I incorporating my love of food and trashy reality TV into a food-based blog? Easy, we are switching gears to my love of wine and all the wonderful wines we have for sale here at The Chopping Block that go really well with bad TV and an epic show such as The Bachelor!

rosesavinyoWhat are two things that come to mind when you think of The Bachelor?  Champagne and roses, of course! Might I suggest as you on demand this little diddy of a show, start with one of my favorite bubbly must haves, The Chopping Block’s house Cava!  Avinyo Cava Brut Reserva is a fantastic value at $20 a pop and is a wonderful representation of Spanish wine with citrus and honey notes. It is an elegant sparkling wine for any occasion, especially the week Sean (this season’s Bachelor) sent home Ashlee, one of the final three. Ashlee deserved to be eliminated on principle for spelling her name like a third grade dropout, but when she actually was, her Death Stare proved her much scarier than we anticipated.

pewseyTierraMoving right along, my next favorite Chopping Block bottle that goes so well with my guilty pleasure show is our Pewsey Valley Riesling at just $15.95! When I think of Rieslings, I think of sweet wine, which makes me think of loud drunk girls, which leads me to think of desperate women hoping to get on a reality show to find their husband but in reality will be airing out their dirty laundry for millions to view and find cause to laugh at them. I am not a huge Riesling fan; however, this one really takes the cake. It isn’t as sweet as most German Rieslings can be. It is smooth, full of apples and citrus, a wonderful representation of all the great things in new world wine Australia has to offer. I downed a bottle during the week they eliminated Tierra. She was the villain with stalker-like tendencies that is also named after a piece of jewelry a princess wears.  She may be gone but her crazy eyebrows will live on forever!

roseLindseyFinally, while watching a good rose ceremony, I like a nice Rose! The Chopping Block offers Domaine de la Courtade “LAlycastre” Rose for $13.50. This is known to most of us TCB employees as our favorite summer sipper of 2012.  We all had our fair share, and I am still going strong!  It’s a great value and a nice representation of a non-sweet light crisp summery rose. It also goes well with a nice rose ceremony. I had several glasses of this while watching Sean get down to the final two girls. I’m rooting for Lindsey. After all, she showed up in the first episode in a wedding dress.

I challenge you in your private TV habits to stop by The Chopping Block and try some of our delicious and affordable wines!  They go great with any of your favorite trashy shows, or if you have actual lives unlike me, share it with friends during elegant dinner parties, BBQ’s, or after a hard day’s work.

What’s your favorite bottle here at The Chopping Block?

Andrea Larson is a lover of all things food and wine. She is a culinary graduate of the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago and has worked at such local restaurants as Uncommon Ground, Spring and Custom House. Currently she is working on her local dream of eating her way around Chicago and probably spends more money on dining out than she should!


Are You Clueless in the Kitchen?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 by Andrea

My guilty pleasure is reality TV, especially in the form of food competition shows. Top Chef has some redeeming qualities, though like many people, I agree the quality of the show has deteriorated over the past few seasons. I can’t stand either Rachael Ray or Guy Fieri, but somehow I stomached a season of Rachael and Guy’s Celebrity Cook-Off just to watch a bunch of B-rate celebrities freak out in the kitchen. But last night, I watched Worst Cooks in America with my mouth wide open in shock.

WorstCooksIf you aren’t familiar with the Food Network show, Chefs Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell lead teams of cooking novices through a seven-week culinary “boot camp” for the chance to earn a $25,000 prize, plus bragging rights for the winning chef. It was shocking to see how little these people knew about food.

One woman described asparagus as “green with a long bush at the end”. One man did not know the difference between a shallot and a scallion. A contestant admitted she likes to burn steak so that she knows it’s actually cooked. During auditions, one cook actually gagged as he was presenting his food to the judges. I almost gagged when one woman lost her fake fingernail during the contestants’ first challenge to make their signature dish. Luckily, it didn’t turn up in the miniscule tastes taken by the judges. They didn’t even taste some dishes.  I wouldn’t have, either.

This ridiculous show got me thinking about people who feel this way about cooking. If you feel clueless in the kitchen, you are obviously not alone.  But help is out there. The Chopping Block’s classes can help any home cook, regardless of your skill level. If you are just beginning the journey of learning how to cook, start with the basics like our Knife Skills or 101 classes to cover techniques for Chicken, Seafood and Meat. You’ll learn how to work with foods you may not have experienced at home, especially if you have been previously committed to pre-made meals and convenience foods. Our chefs will inspire you to cook and the more you practice at home, the more confidence you’ll have in the kitchen.

Then, you won’t have to set aside time to work on your audition video for next season’s Worst Cooks in America.






Andrea has been with The Chopping Block for over 12 years in every role from Chef Assistant to General Manager to Private Event Coordinator and now Public Relations. Her journalism background and culinary school education from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago give her the know-how to spread the word about The Chopping Block's mission to get people to cook. She'll never shy away from a music festival, hot yoga class, beach read, dinner out with friends or a good glass of Pinot Noir, especially when cuddling on the couch with her terrier, Bosworth.


Da Bears

Thursday, September 13th, 2012 by Lisa

Is it possible that I have become a fan of football? Many years ago I would not have thought it possible, but after many seasons of Da Bears, and Dave actually taking the time to explain the game to me, I believe it may just be so.  This season has already started with so much fanfare for Da Bears, and with the whipping we gave the Colts on Sunday at Soldier Field, it appears likely to continue.

In our home there really is never a bad time to watch football; pre-game, actual live game, post-game and then even some more post-game.  The day or night for that matter, of the week is irrelevant. It really has become more like 101 ways with the same game of football.  It gets even better when you can have a group of friends over all screaming relentlessly at the game – cheering on the game, or in many instances, trying to get the ref to hear why the call was not such a great call with recommendations as to what it should have been!

Regardless of the outcome of the game – there is always a game day winner in our house. It is requested with consistency if there are no guests, or if we have 10 guests, without respect to weather, who is playing or time of the day. I actually asked Dave this past weekend if he was likely to tire of the request – he said it is unlikely.

I invite you to try the following recipe – for which I can only take credit for preparing according to the following. It actually is one of Emeril Lagasse’s recipes that I use from the Food Network and is always a winner.

Fire Roasted Corn Dip with Crispy Flour  and Blue Corn Chips

  • 4 medium ears of fresh sweet corn, shucked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1/4 cup small diced red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup small diced yellow bell peppers
  • 1 medium jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup homemade mayonnaise
  • 1/2 pound grated Monterey Jack Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions, (green part only)
  • 6 small flour tortillas, quartered
  • 6 small blue corn tortillas, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Rub each ear of the corn with the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the corn either on the grill or either on an open flame. Cook the corn for 1 minute on all sides. Remove from the heat and cool. Using a sharp knife, remove the kernels from the cob. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the corn and continue to saute for 2 minutes. Add the jalapenos and garlic. Continue to cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Turn the vegetable mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in the mayonnaise and half of the cheese. Mix well. Stir in the green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a greased 6 cup oven-proof oval baking dish. Spread evenly and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly. Fry the tortillas in batches until crispy, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly for overall browning. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish the dip with the chopped olives. Serve warm with the chips.

Since joining The Chopping Block in February of 2010 as Sales Manager of Private and Corporate Events, Lisa has truly been able to indulge her passion for all things food. Growing up in Australia, surrounded by family orchards in a rich rural farming community, she is an especially firm believer in supporting the dairy farmers, enjoying all things cheese related. When not working with her team to plan events and welcome guests, she enjoys gathering friends around her dining table at home, grilling outdoors, trying her hand at a range of classes at The Chopping Block, traveling and reading.


A No Bake Solution

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 by Amanda

What is a very pregnant woman with a sweet tooth to make on 100 plus degree-day?  No bake cookies, of course!  It wasn’t until my husband got home from work that I realized not many people know what a no bake cookie is.  We had them frequently growing up in northern Michigan, so I figured everyone had them.

No bake cookies are basically just chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies prepared on the stovetop.  No turning the oven on in this hot weather, but I do realize that they don’t sound like the most summery food.  Keep in mind I am nine months pregnant at this point and not much I want to eat makes sense.

I found a traditional recipe on the Food Network website but added a pinch of sea salt since all of my ingredients were salt free.  Also, I found instead of using the wax paper, my mini muffin tin worked great for perfect little cookies.  After consuming several (or almost all) of my blast from the past, I started thinking of all the different things that could be added to this simple recipe. They would be great with coconut, other nuts, dried fruit, but no, I am not suggesting pickles!  If you have any childhood favorites or easy heat wave meals, I would love to for you to share them here.

Amanda Aristeo is originally from Traverse City, Michigan and has lived in Chicago for the past 7 years. After the birth of her son, Mario, she left her position at the Chicago City Clerk’s Office to dedicate herself to her family and pursue a part-time career in a field she is passionate about: food. Remembering how much she enjoyed attending classes at The Chopping Block, she applied at Lincoln Square and now works as a Class Assistant and Retail Associate. When Amanda isn’t creating meatless meals for her family, she is busy attending aquababies, Tiny Tots or spending time with her wonderful husband.