Posts Tagged ‘top chef the cookbook’

Cookbook Review: Top Chef the Cookbook

Saturday, April 4th, 2009


I’ve had my eye on Top Chef the Cookbook ever since I first glimpsed it in Padma’s hands during season 4. And I wasn’t even sure why. At the time, the food being served on Top Chef was far, far out of my league, and even if I had been inspired to try a dish, Bravo has been kind enough to post the chef’s recipes on their website all along.

Luckily, Top Chef the Cookbook is more than just recipes. It’s also behind the scenes features about the chefs, food, and judges that make the show what it is. It’s also recaps of Seasons 1-3. Like Top Chef itself, it’s food AND entertainment.

Though I haven’t cooked a lot from Top Chef the Cookbook, I still enjoy reading the book. And the one dish that I did try ( Dave Martin’s Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese) was as amazing as I remembered from Season 1.

I’m looking forward to the sequel to this book, which I expect we’ll see once Season 6 is over. Top Chef the Cookbook is so much more than just a cookbook, and I think that any fan of the show would do themselves a favor to pick up a copy.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find in the book:

  1. Introduction from Tom Collichio
  2. Cooking up Top Chef (behind the scenes info on organizing Top Chef)
  3. Judges Table (with bios on each of the Top Chef Judges)
  4. Breakfast
    • Elia’s Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Waffle with Ham, Cheese & Fried Egg
    • C.J.’s Crepes filled with Almond Whipped Cream & Strawberries
    • Hung’s Steak & Eggs with Papaya, Banana, & Grand Marnier Shake
    • Sara M’s Eggs in a Hole
    • Lisa’s Fruit Kabobs with Honeyed Red & Blue Yogurt
    • Ilan’s Spanish Tortilla with Chipotle Aioli
    • Betty’s Black Forest Ham & Egg Bundle with Cor and Leek Ragout on Rustic Toast
    • Mia’s Crabcakes Benedict with Mango Cream Sauce
  5. Season 1: San Francisco (with Chef Bios, Episode Guide and Elimination Bracket)
  6. Quickfire Madness Feature
  7. Appetizers and Small Plates
    • Casey’s Beef Carpaccio with Watercress, Fried Capers, and Shitake Broth
    • Dale’s Seared Scallops with Purslane and Marinated Grapes
    • Hung’s Tuna Tartare with Nicoise Olvies, White Asparagus, and Egg Vinagarette
    • Marchel’s Watermelon & Tomato Trio – Watermelon Steak, Tomato Salad, and Watermelon Refresher
    • Frank’s Ham and Cheese Mini Quiches with Pesto
    • Sam, Ilan, Marcel, and Betty’s Braised Pork Shoulder with Tomato Marmalade
    • Stephen’s Poached Baby Manila Clams over Grilled Sea Beans
    • Ilan’s Baked Escargot in Their Shells
    • Ilan’s Morcilla and Squid Lau Lau
    • Marchel’s Hammachi Boke with Pineapple Poi and Taro Chips
    • Lee Anne’s Deep-Fried Oysters with Lemon Cream
    • Cliff’s Hama Hama Oysters with Mango and Split Prawns, Hamachi, and Daikon
    • Lia’s Olive Oil-Poached Shrimp  with Avacado and Cucumber, Lime, and Grilled Pepper Salad
  8. Entrees: Meat
    • Dale’s Colorado Rack of Lamb
    • Ilan’s Spinach & Cannellini Bean Salad
    • Tre’s Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Cheese Grits and Chipotle-Tomato Butter Sauce
    • Dave’s Salami & Gouda Panini
    • Sam’s Sweetbread and Scallion Beignets
    • Howie’s Brraised Pork Shoulder
    • Harold’s Duo of Beef with Jobe Strip Loin and Braised Kobe Short Ribs with White Polenta
    • Frank’s Prosciutto and Cheese Pizza
    • Howie’s Black Truffle Burger
    • Lee Anne and Stephen’s Corn Sopes with Char Siu Pork and Pickled Asian Slaw
    • Dale’s Seared Elk Loin
    • Dave and Tiffani’s Moroccan Cubanos
    • Harold’s Prime New  York Strip Steaks with Foie Gras and Parsnip Puree
    • Team Korea’s Spicy Braised korean Pork
    • Stephen’s  Threesome of Colorado Lamb
    • Howie’s Fennel-Crusted Pork Chops
    • Casey’s Veal Medallions
    • Marcel’s Curried Lamb Kabobs
  9. Beware! Bourdain Feature
  10. Season 2: Los Angeles(with Chef Bios, Episode Guide and Elimination Bracket)
  11. Entrees: Poultry
    • Casey’s Coq au Vin
    • Harold’s Pan-Roasted Quail
    • Brian’s Spring Harvest Pheasant’s Pie
    • C.J. & Tre’s Black Truffle and Parmesan Lingune
    • Hung’s Sous-Vide Duck with Truffle-Scented Broth
    • Lee Anne’s Chicken in Red Curry Sauce
    • Casey and Dale’s Turkey and Pork Meatballs with Orecchiette Pasta and Spinach-Almond Pesto
    • Tre’s Seared Ostrich Fillet
    • Brian and Sara N.’s Chicken  Rigatoni
    • Hung’s Poached Black Chicken and Raw Geoduck
    • Elia’s Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
  12. Top Coif Feature
  13. Entrees: Fish
    • Harold’s Steamed Red Snapper
    • Ilan’s Macadamia Nut Gazpacho with Pan-Roasted Moi
    • Sara M.’s Halibut with Grapes and Fried Leeks
    • Ilan’s Fideos with Clams and Saffron
    • C.J.’s Scallop Mousse and Shrimp Burger
    • Sam’s Espresso Shrimp Flambeed with Sambuca
    • Michael’s Trout and Salmon
    • Elia’s Ahi Tuna and Shrimp Tacos
    • Hung’s Sauteed Shrimp with Corn Puddnig, Bacon & Corn Salad, and Shrimp Foam
    • Brian’s Sea Bass, Scallop, and Shrimp Sausage
    • Harold’s Ecuadorian Ceviche with Popcorn Cakes
    • Betty’s Spicy Coconut Curry Steamed Mussels
    • Tiffani’s Read Wine-Braised Angel Hair Pasta
    • Tiffani’s Mirin-Glazed Sea Bass
  14. Knives Out! Top Feuds Feature
  15. Entrees: Vegetarian
    • Dave’s Truffle and Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese
    • Marcel’s Tempura Vegetables and Mozzarella
    • Sam’s Summer Fruit Salad
    • Sara M.’s Chiles Rellenos
    • Miguel’s Deconstructed Falafel
    • Carlos’s Sunflower Seed and Carrot Loaf with Cilantro, Sesame Oil, and Squirt
    • Elia’s Portobello and Button Mushroom Creme with Walnuts
    • Betty’s Grilled Cheese with Portobello Musrhooms and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
    • Dave’s Lasagna with Two Saucess
    • Andrea’s Quinoa Pilaf with Curried Sweet Potato Mash
  16. They Oughta Know By Now Feature
  17. Season 3: Miami
  18. Top Chef Finales Feature
  19. Dessert
    • Joey’s Trio of Tarts, Berry Cream, Roasted Mango Puree & Warm Apple Compote
    • Marcel’s Potato Cannoli
    • Marcel’s Blini with Kona Coffee “Caviar”
    • Hung’s Molten Chocolate Cakes
    • Harold’s Fig Tart with Cheeses
    • Cliff’s Marshmallow and Cookie Ice Cream
    • Richard’s Banana Scallops, Banana Guacamole
    • Brian H.’s Strawberry Apple Crisp with Hazelnut Whipped Cream
    • Miguel’s The Total Orgasm Lemon Pastry Puffs, Tapioca Pillows, and Cold Hot-Chocolate Shots
    • Elia’s Low-Fat Berry Cheesecake
  20. Blogging Top Chef Feature
  21. Reunions Feature
  22. “It Is What It Is”: A Top Chef Glossary
  23. Index
  24. Credits

Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

I live in a house without mushrooms.

I don’t like a dish to be overwhelmed by mushrooms, but I like to eat them from time to time. My husband and our roommate, on the other hand, have absolutely no interest in mushrooms of any kind. That, plus the fact that Perigord black truffles are approximately $700 a pound (frozen!) means that my take on Dave Martin’s Truffle and  Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese had to be made sans truffles.

I didn’t miss them.

Top Chef fans will probably remember Dave “I’m not your bitch, bitch!” Martin and this Macaroni and Cheese dish from Season 1. This was the dish that took Lee Ann Wong out of the running, the dish that allowed Dave to scrape on by to the next round. It looked amazing on television, and it pleased every one of an impressive group of judges. Top Chef is full of moments when every fan wishes they could be on scene, tasting each dish. Dave Martin’s macaroni and cheese was one of those moments for me. Imagine my excitement, then, when I found the recipe in my Top Chef cookbook. I was pleased to find, when I sat down to figure out dinner last night, that (aside from the truffles) I had everything I needed to make Dave Martin’s famous macaroni & cheese dish.

Cognac Cream Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted from the Top Chef Cookbook

  • butter for baking dish
  • 1 cup cognac (I used brandy)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 6 roasted garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (I used a dry white wine)
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano (I used dried oregano, about a teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne or other pasta, cooked al dente
  • 8 ounces Fontina cheese, finely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups seasoned sourdough crouton crumbs (I made my own, recipe follows)

A note on the cheeses: We did not have enough Parmesan cheese, so I used a combination of Parmesan, Fontina, and smoked Gouda, for a total of 14 ounces.

1. Generously butter the bottom & sides of a large,  deep baking dish. Set aside.

2. Place the cognac in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until they are softened, but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the sherry and stir until evaporated. Add the cream, reduced cognac, oragano and thyme.

4. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the flavors are infused, about 20 minutes. Watch the pot carefully so that the cream does not boil over. Add the Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, followed by the cooked pasta and cheeses. (Reserve a small amount of cheese to sprinkle over the top of the dish). Set aside.

5. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the crouton crumbs and remaining cheese. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees or until bubbly and browned on top.

Homemade Seasoned Crouton Crumbs
My Own Recipe

  • 6 slices of rustic Italian or sourdough bread, cubed (I used about half of a roasted garlic Italian loaf we had leftover)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread cubed bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

3. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the cubed bread pieces.

4. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the cubed bread pieces and toss to coat.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and crisp.

6. When cool, drop into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs, about 5 times.

Note: This recipe did not disappoint. Rich, creamy, decadent. The cognac cream adds to the richness, the fontina and gouda melted beautifully into a wonderful smooth texture. The top of the dish was crunchy and buttery. I served this macaroni and cheese as a side dish with some baked chicken breasts, and even though we rarely skip the proteins around here, this dish really could have stood on its own as an entree. It was that good.