Show 70, April 26, 2014: Test Kitchen Director, Chef Tom Fraker, Melissa’s / World Variety Produce

Tom FrakerOur friends at Melissa’s have done it again. Newly published is Melissa’s “The Great Pepper Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Cooking with Peppers.”

Keep in mind that cooking with peppers is about adding flavor to food. It’s way beyond just adding heat.

Chef and Melissa’s Test Kitchen Director Tom Fraker is our guest. He tested, and retested, each and every recipe in the book using equipment found in home kitchens. He also developed many of the recipes in the book including the wonderful version of the classic Albondigas Soup using fresh Poblano peppers.

There is a difference in preparing and using chiles in their fresh and dry forms. Chef Tom will be our well-informed guide in understanding the nuances.

Part of the Melissa’s team responsible for creating Melissa’s “The Great Pepper Cookbook” will be hosting a lunch and presentation at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 7th. Executive Chef Ida Rodriguez, Test Kitchen Director Chef Tom Fraker and Robert Schueller (The Prince of Produce) will provide commentary and recipe tutorials.

The three-course lunch will feature recipes from the book. It’s a modest $25 per guest and reservations are essential.


Three-Pepper Sausage Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton from Randon Houseby Sam Sifton

Here is a recipe I adapted from the cooking of Kurt Gardner, a New York theater man of great culinary passions who has been contributing the dish to our home for years, usually in proportions large enough to feed boroughs. Rare is the month where there is not a frozen bag of this stuff in our freezer, ready to be deployed.

2 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
11⁄2 pounds andouille sausage, or fresh chorizo or hot Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced
2 red or orange bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
2 poblano or Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
2 serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock (if using store- bought, use low sodium variety)
1 pan cornbread, cut into cubes (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in large fl at- bottomed sauté pan over medium- high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.

3. Add onion to the pan and reduce heat to medium, then sauté until onion begins to turn clear and soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add celery and peppers and continue cooking until peppers begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes.

4. Pour vegetable mixture into bowl with sausage, add chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste, and toss to mix.

5. Return pan to heat and deglaze with a splash of chicken stock, then scrape contents into bowl with sausage and vegetable mixture.

6. Pour mixture into a large roasting pan and add cubed cornbread, mixing by hand. Add chicken stock to moisten, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is soft and the flavors well incorporated. If you desire a crunchy top, remove foil for fi nal 10 minutes of cooking.

(Dressing can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. If dry upon reheating, add additional chicken stock.)

Excerpted from Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well by Sam Sifton. Copyright ©2012 by Sam Sifton. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.