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The Kitchen Story: When The Designer is the Client (Pt. 2)

In the first blog I shared what happens when years of dreaming about the perfect kitchen meet the harsh reality of 80 square feet of space.  Believe me, there were many days I dreamt of bumping out the room into my large backyard, but that just wasn’t feasible.  Why?  The B-word. 

Budget.

Creating a budget is challenging, but with planning it can be the key to your “dream come true.”  The budget wheel is a tool I give to clients to help establish priorities and make decisions.

When it comes to the kitchen, priorities are personal and one person’s wheel will look different than the next.  For me, cabinets and appliances took center stage. (You may remember my crumbling cabinets and outdated appliances.)

Let’s start with cabinets.  I needed to fit a lot into a little bit of space. This is where it helps to have a professional designer who has mastered the art and science of finding solutions by choosing cabinets that gain efficiency when space is at a premium.  

There are many storage solutions in cabinetry that can help organize your kitchen.  For example, a lazy Susan and roll out drawers make the interior space of a cabinet more accessible storage.  Deep cabinet storage above a refrigerator is a great place for vertical storage items, cookie sheets and serving trays, but not so good for everyday cookware or crockpots, unless you have a pet giraffe or a really tall spouse! Accessories both inside and outside the cabinet can increase your budget so it is wise to figure out what is your priority, the divided utensil tray inside or the glass doors on the outside.

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Appliances were the next priority on my budget wheel.  The easiest decision was the sleek and precise induction cooktop, applauded by so many of my clients, set atop a convection oven which really can bake three trays of sugar cookies at the same time and to perfection.  A range hood, creating a clean and open focal point, replaced cabinetry that used to be above my old range.  The decision cost me some storage space, but it was driven by aesthetics.  What can I say?  Given the narrow layout of my kitchen, a counter-depth French door refrigerator/bottom freezer was the solution.  The final touch was my long awaited dishwasher.  

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A good designer continues budget discussions throughout the process because often new ideas emerge as it becomes clearer how you want to use this new space and visualize actually living within your new kitchen.  With each idea comes the gremlins of space and budget, but it’s a positive to update your plan if it enhances the space for you in the years to come.  Staying within budget is always possible when you alter the percentages of the budget wheel according to your priorities. 

Next time I’ll talk about the finishing touches … the colors and style that accent the elegance of new cabinetry and appliances, sleek countertops and polished flooring.  Even as a color expert, this was going to be a challenge.  Should I go bold with persimmon or earthy with chestnut brown?  In the end, my fanning through the color book always ended within the spectrum of cool, calm grays.  This could be my most difficult decision so far.

I mean, do you have any idea how many shades of gray there are?

(Next month I’ll answer that question … and it’s not 50!)

BY: Janice Pattee and Mary Lynn Hoffman

Ring in the Year of the Horse

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Perhaps you’d like a second chance to restart the year and reinvigorate some of those goals? If that’s the case, here’s your chance! January 31 was the start of the Chinese New Year; the year of the Horse. A lunar calendar determines when the Chinese New Year will fall, much like Easter in the West.

After all the hubbub of the Western holiday season has faded, it’s nice to have one more chance to enjoy wonderful food and company, and to celebrate the start of a bright new year.

Growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, food was rationed. At New Year’s time, we received extra food and my parents would invite friends over for their annual party. My mother would spend days planning the party. As we had no refrigerator, she had to put all the food outside on the windowsill during the day and then bring it in at night to prevent it from freezing. My brother and I would huddle around our small coal stove, inhaling the delicious smell. Those days were the happiest memories in my childhood.

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Today I feel very fortunate and blessed to host a New Year’s party and cook in a kitchen with all modern appliances. The refrigerator that keeps my food fresh for days, a gas stove, a steam oven and a warming drawer all make cooking and hosting an easy task.

Below are a few simple tips that will help to make your Chinese New Year’s party a success:

  • Pick a few of your favorite main dishes (recipe ideas below!)
  • To save time, use pre-cut and pre-washed ingredients
  • Have all the ingredients ready before cooking
  • Make a few main dishes and let your guests bring the side dishes and dessert
  • Enlist the help of your guests, such as having them pitch in to help make dumplings. It’s a fun way for the guests to interact with each other.

As you may have guessed, foods play a significant role in Chinese culture. Each dish served for the New Year’s feast has symbolic meaning: dumplings represent togetherness and heavenly blessings; ribs are symbols of wealth and strength; shrimp stands for prosperity and joy; noodles stand for a long and happy life; a whole fish is a symbol of surplus and prosperity. Additionally, it’s a Chinese tradition to exchange treats and fruit with friends and neighbors. Candies and sweet rice cake are for a sweet New Year. Melon seeds and candied melon represent growth and prosperity; Oranges and tangerines stand for instant wealth and health.

Kung-his fa-ts’ai! Happy New Year!

Here are some Chinese New Year recipes. Recipes are excerpted from COOKING WITH AN ASIAN ACCENT, © 2014 by Ying Compestine. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Recipe photo credit: © Lucy Schaeffer

crispy spring rolls with spicy tofu, vegetables, and toasted nuts

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Makes 12 spring rolls

I love visiting Buddhist temples in Asia, not for religious reasons but because I enjoy the food served in their restaurants. This recipe was inspired by the fried vegetarian spring rolls I ate at the Shaolin Temple.

While I enjoy crispy fried spring rolls, I dislike their high calorie count and the mess from deep-frying them. I found that by brushing a little olive oil on these rolls and broiling them in the oven, they came out just as crispy and delicious.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

One 8-ounce package Thai- or teriyaki-flavored tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 cup (about 3 ounces) finely chopped fresh oyster mushrooms

1/2 cup finely diced carrot

1/2 cup finely diced water chestnuts

2 tablespoons tamari sauce

3/4 cup toasted peanuts or walnuts, coarsely chopped, ¼ cup reserved for garnish

2 green onions, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Twelve 8-inch round dried rice paper wrappers

1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce, leaves washed and separated

Lime-Soy-Ginger Sauce, for serving

Directions

1. Heat a wok or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and water chestnuts and stir-fry until heated through, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the tamari sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the nuts, green onions, and sesame oil and toss to combine. Remove from the heat.

3. Fill a medium bowl with warm water. Dip one of the wrappers in the water for 15 seconds, or until softened. Carefully transfer to a dry work surface.

4. Arrange 2 to 3 tablespoons of the filling in an even horizontal mound just below the center of the wrapper. Roll up the rice paper to form a tight cylinder, folding in the sides about halfway. Assemble the remaining spring rolls in the same manner. Cover the finished rolls with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.

5. Preheat the broiler. Lightly coat a large nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange the spring rolls in a single layer on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between them. Lightly coat the rolls with cooking spray.

6. Broil the rolls until lightly browned and crisp, 10 to 13 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, turn the rolls over and continue to broil for another 8 to 10 minutes.

7. Serve each roll wrapped in a lettuce leaf garnished with nuts, and accompanied by the Lime-Soy-Ginger Sauce.

lime-soy-ginger sauce

Makes about 1/2 cup sauce

This simple sauce goes well with spring rolls as a dipping sauce. Also, it makes a good marinade for seafood. I once served grilled trout marinated in this sauce to a friend who disliked fish—it completely changed his mind!

Ingredients

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon thinly shredded fresh ginger

1 green onion, green part only, minced

2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, toasted (see Note)

Directions

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer to allow the flavors to meld.

2. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed glass container for up to 5 days.

Note: Sesame seeds can be purchased already toasted, but to toast your own, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Spread the sesame seeds out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the sesame seeds are crisp and fragrant. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn.

Lamb, Potato, and Carrot Stew

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Makes 8 servings

According to TCM doctors, lamb is warming in nature. This hearty stew, flavored with chile and turmeric, will enhance blood circulation. The goji berries add an exotic, Asian twist. Beef or chicken are delicious alternatives to lamb.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 pounds lamb meat, cut into 1½-inch cubes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 whole red chile peppers, fresh or dried

6 cups water or chicken stock

2 tablespoons dried goji berries

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 large red onion, cut into 2-inch wedges

4 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 2-inch-long pieces

1/2 pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Dill sprigs, for garnish

Directions

1. Combine 1 teaspoon of the flour and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a bowl. Add half the lamb cubes and toss to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining flour, salt, and lamb.

2. In the same pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sauté the garlic and chiles until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the stock, cooked lamb and juices, goji berries, turmeric, and thyme. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

3. Add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 1 hour. Add the potatoes and cook for 30 minutes more, uncovered, or until the meat is tender and the liquid has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with dill sprigs. Serve warm with bread.

spicy sesame ribs

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Makes 4 servings

Marinated ribs become tender and juicy, and a Spicy Sesame Sauce gives them a delightful Asian accent. When grilled, the intoxicating aroma of the sauce will arouse every diner’s anticipation. This is my evolved version of traditional American barbecued ribs.

Ingredients

2 pounds baby back ribs

2 cups Spicy Sesame Sauce, or store-bought Asian sauce

Olive oil, as needed for brushing the grill

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

1. Rinse the ribs, pat dry with paper towels, and slice them into individual pieces.

2. Combine the ribs and sauce in a large container. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 4 hours.

3. Brush the grill rack generously with oil and preheat the grill to medium-low.

Remove the ribs from the marinade. Reserve the marinade.

4. Place the ribs on the rack and grill, basting frequently with the remaining marinade.

Stop basting 5 minutes before the ribs are done. Discard any unused marinade. Grill the ribs until they are golden brown, tender, and no longer pink inside, 12 to 15 minutes per side. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve hot.

spicy sesame sauce

Makes about 3/4 cup sauce

Toasted sesame has a boisterous flavor that balances well with green onions, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Aside from making a wonderful dipping sauce, this also makes an unusual and delicious salad dressing. I often double the recipe for this versatile sauce and store the extra in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. It always speeds up my cooking on a busy night.

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 green onion, green and white parts, finely sliced

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon thinly shredded fresh red chile pepper

1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

 Directions

1. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer to allow the flavors to meld.

2. Use immediately, or store in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To purchase Cooking with an Asian Accent:

Amazon

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Independent Bookstores

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A recent interview with Ying on NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/01/31/268926416/for-a-twist-on-the-lunar-new-year-dumpling-add-green-tea

BY: Ying Chang Compestine

A Southern Tapas Style Weekend Brunch

Let’s face it, by the time New Year’s comes around, millions of home cooks have no desire to do any cooking in their kitchen. Just thinking about preparing any kind of food for another family gathering or party, after cooking and entertaining for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s, might not be the greatest suggestion.

On the other hand, all of those wonderful parties and open house gatherings that provided so much laughter, bonding, and abundance of delicious food, has somehow also become a distant memory for many.

To rekindle some of that fun, here’s a Southern, tapas-style weekend brunch menu comprised of easy-to-prepare, tasty dishes. Tapas are the simplest level of eating small bites (tidbits). The concept comes from Spain, however nowadays it’s practiced worldwide and features a variety of ethnic cuisines. Serving food tapas style allows the cook to use a range of small dishes that might not have been used during the holiday season, while also controlling portion sizes which many individuals in the New Year may appreciate!

Suggested menu

ENJOY!

Kale Martinis

Mississippi Caviar

Hoecakes

Corn Soup

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

Bananas, Pecans and Rum Delight

Kale Martini: Kale has become one of America’s most popular super foods. Why not pay homage to it, by enjoying a delightful martini.

Ingredients:

3 cups curly kale, washed

1 medium size cucumber, washed, coarsely chopped

1 apple, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon minced/finely chopped fresh ginger (optional)

½ cup orange juice

4 ounces vodka

Instructions:

Place all the ingredients, except the orange juice and vodka in a juicer machine and mix. Pour mixture into martini shaker, along with the orange juice, vodka about 3 ice cubes. Shake and pour equal portions of the drink into martini glasses. Makes 2 to 4 drinks.

Mississippi Caviar:

Ingredients:

1 can black eyed peas (15-ounces), rinsed and drained

1 can black beans (15-ounces), rinsed and drained

1 cup of cooked whole kernel corn

1 cup onion, diced

¼ cup black olives, chopped

2 tablespoons minced garlic

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoon finely chopped dill

1 tablespoon seasoning salt

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Instructions:

Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently stir with a large wooden spoon until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 2 hours before use. Serve over hoecakes or crackers. Makes about 5 to 6 cups.

Hoecakes: Hoecakes are small pieces of fried cornbread. Its name came from field hands during the early part of the 19th century, a time when these delicious cakes were cook on the blade of a hoe in the fields, throughout the southern part of the United States.

Ingredients:

1 cup yellow cornmeal

¼ cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

1 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup melted butter

¼ cup finely chopped green onions

½ cup vegetable oil

Instructions:

Place the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt in a medium size bowl and mix the ingredients well with a large wooden spoon. Stir in the milk, egg, butter, and onions. Heat the vegetable oil over a griddle or heavy skillet until the oil turns hot, over medium heat. Drop 1 tablespoon of batter in the skillet and cook hoe cakes about 30 seconds on each side or until they turn golden brown. Makes 16 to 20

Corn Soup:

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Courtesy Of: Styled by Charlotte Lyons and Photograph taken by Eric Futran

This soup can be garnished with bits of bacon, small lettuce leaves, chopped olives, or diced sweet peppers.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon freshly chopped garlic

2 cups whole kernel corn, fresh or frozen

2 cups vegetable broth

¼ teaspoon white pepper

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat about 2 minutes. Stir in the onions and cook 4 minutes or until they turn soft, stirring constantly. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the cream. Cook 15 minutes and let cool. Place the mixture a food processor or blender and puree until the texture turns smooth. Pour the soup back in the saucepan, add the cream and warm over a low heat, stirring constantly. Once the soup is heated, remove from stove.  Makes 2 to 3 cups. Corn soup can be served in shot or aperitif glasses.

Herbal Baby Back Ribs: Before cooking, these ribs can be placed in the refrigerator and marinated with the herbs and barbecue sauce on them, up to 24 hours.

Ingredients:

2 racks baby back ribs (approx 4 pounds)

1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme

1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

1 (18-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce

Instructions:

Wash and pat dry the ribs with paper towels. Combine the chopped herbs in a cup, mix together and rub on both sides of the ribs. Tear off 6 large pieces of aluminum foil, large enough to hold the ribs. Spay the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Place the ribs in the foil and gently pour the barbecue sauce over them. Wrap the foil tightly and bake in oven 2 to 2 ½ hours. Remove the ribs from oven. Open the aluminum foil and let them rest 20 minutes before cutting them into tapas style portions. Serves 8 to 10 

Bananas, Pecans and Rum Delight

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Courtesy Of: Styled by Charlotte Lyons and Photograph taken by Eric Futran

This dessert can be served over slices of pound cake or ice cream. Chopped walnuts can be substituted for the pecans.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons butter

2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut in half, lengthwise

¼ cup dark raisins

¼ cup golden raisins

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ cup chopped pecan pieces

1/3 cup dark rum

Instructions:

Heat butter in a small sauce pan over low heat until melted. Add the bananas and cook 2 minutes. Add the remaining of the ingredients, cover the sauce pan and cook about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings in small parfait dishes.

BY: Wilbert Jones

The Kitchen Story: When the Designer is the Client

The Franklin Kitchen as described in a recent blog resembles, in terms of its size (small), my own kitchen tucked neatly into the back of my 1930s bungalow.  It was old and tired and, did I mention, small? The wood of the cabinets was ‘shedding’ so I’d find shavings sprinkled across my silverware.  The parquet wood floor was cracked with age, faded and scratched beyond repair.  Outdated appliances and what felt like just a few inches  of counterpace made cooking and entertaining nearly impossible.  When I moved into my home 11 years ago, one of the first items on my list was renovating that space. After all, designing kitchens is what I do.  No problem, right? 

Wrong.

First, there was the timing, something I think you will relate to since by timing I mean the day I sat down to really get to work on this was the same day my roof leaked buckets full, staining my stucco walls and causing dollars to fly out of my bank account like leaves on a windy autumn day.  Then there was the time the bathtub faucet fell off the wall…well you get the picture.  Weeks turned to years and before I knew it I was celebrating a decade in my home with my sad, small kitchen.  And so I decided the time had come.

I’ll tell you right up front, this is the hardest kitchen design I have ever created.  It’s easy to make decisions among the myriad of wonderful appliances, countertops, faucets, lighting and cabinetry for clients.  But when you have to decide for your own space?  When you have to commit to a plan and choose materials?  When out of the thousands of options we are exposed to as designers we have to zero in and select just one? 

That’s a different story, but it’s one I’d like to share with you. Over the course of three blogs, I’d like to take you along on the journey of transformation from outdated, dull and depressing to fresh, functional and technologically advanced.  

Part One — The Dream Stage Meets Reality

This is the ‘dream’ phase, the time to visualize what I want my kitchen to look and feel like.  I have folders full of sketches, photographs, swatches and materials specs.  But now I must ask myself the same questions I ask my clients.  What are my inspirations? How do I want to use the space? What have I always wanted in terms of ‘tools,’ the appliances, the sink, the faucet?  What’s happening in the space?  Are people gathered together around a spacious seated island watching me whip up crepes Suzette on my induction cooktop?  Ah, the dream. Except the space I have is way too small for an island, or to entertain if I want to be able to open the refrigerator or the oven door. 

Back to the drawing board and the realization that the wish list for my dream kitchen is just that, wishes and dreams.  It’s time to employ the design principles used in the Franklin Kitchen: functionality and efficiency.  That’s the hallmark of kitchen designers.  That’s our magic.  We’re wizards at making the most out of the space we have.  With wish list in hand we evaluate storage, think about how to use walls and conjure the perfect place for all the pieces that make a kitchen work.  Then we prioritize. 

For me, the number one priority was to upgrade my appliances and add a dishwasher to replace my ridiculously outdated kitchen with the latest technology available.  Another priority was a double trash container so I could recycle more easily.  Given the tight confines, it was going to be a challenge.

My priorities – my ‘non-negotiables’ – were claiming storage space at an alarming rate.  I opened all my cabinets and drawers as though I’d find some that magically were empty.  Just the opposite; they were overflowing. But there’s a good cleanse that goes along with renovation.  We can all become mini-hoarders and this was my time to clear the clutter. Following the advice I give my clients, if I hadn’t placed an item in my hand during the past year, it was a strong candidate for the ‘donation’ pile.  Exceptions are items like a turkey roaster which moves to secondary storage, perhaps a basement shelf. If I hadn’t used an item in the past six months and I didn’t remember even owning it, it went in the donation pile (except for a mandolin slicer which was a pleasant surprise to find).  A quick calculation after this exercise proved storage was still going to be a challenge. 

My design was under attack by allowable space.  With only 80 square feet to work within, I had much, much bigger dreams than I space. 

Next time I’ll share details about my design solution for the small space, and the other dream-buster…the B-word.  (Budget.) 

BY: Janice Pattee and Mary Lynn Hoffman

Swine’s Midnight Chef’s Table

When the topic is Southern food, the question always arises “Is Florida really a part of the South?”.   As the longest serving Board member from Florida on the Southern Food & Beverage Museum, this question is important to me.

It doesn’t really have to do with whether we are Southern enough; we are,after all, the most Southern of US states.  It has to do with whether we are too Southern.  So Southern that our menus are less associated with the rest of the US and more with the cuisines of Latin America.  And it’s a fair comment.  It was 500 years ago this year that Ponce de Leon began the international foothold on this peninsula, and foreign foods have always been a major influence on the Florida foodways. 

Even when US regional cuisine began exploding thanks to people like James Beard and Julia Child, Florida responded with a group of chefs called the Mango Gang* who in the 1990’s were exploring international/caribbean aspects of our food culture in most of their menus. 

And when South Florida did embrace American restaurants, they tended to be outposts of famous NYC chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Andrew Carmellini. 

But over the past decade more restaurants have focused on our own foodstuffs.  Michael Schwartz, Michelle Bernstein and Norman Van Aken certainly were early in on this trend, but in the last couple of years there has been an explosion of new restaurants that have fully merged South Florida foodstuffs with traditional Southern food to create a new, very local, very Southern food.  And maybe most notable among these new restaurants are Yardbird and Swine. (Link to Nitty Grits article)

We won’t know for several years whether this will lead to a new Miami cuisine, but it seems like that is happening.  Norman Van Aken (Tuyo and Normans) is now culinary director at the Miami Culinary Institute, Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s) has a television program promoting local restaurants and a new program about our 500-year old culinary history, but John Kunkle (the CEO of 50 Eggs which owns Yardbird, Khong and Swine) has maybe the most ambitious plan to promote a community that supports its chefs and shares its food ideas.   

50 Eggs is building a Test Kitchen, a location where any chef is invited to experiment with new recipes, ask for advice from the 50Eggs team, and collaborate with each other.  This should be opened within the next year.  But until that is open, they are promoting the restaurant community through the Midnight Table.

Yardbird is one of the most popular Miami Beach restaurants (at two years old having already been a finalist for several James Beard Awards) and has been my favorite restaurant for the two years it has been opened. It started the Midnight Table last year. 

But once Swine Restaurant and Bar opened this January, it quickly moved up to my favorite spot.  Maybe because they focus on pork products (while still serving Yardbird’s fabulous fried chicken), maybe because they are within walking distance of our home, and maybe because they have two of the best bars in the city. 

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So when Swine scheduled its first Midnight Table for June 28, I signed up that day, that minute.  Even so, I got the last two seats.  Obviously I am not the only Miamian who is in love with Swine. 

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The rules of the Midnight Table are:

  community table and family style service        

  no advanced knowledge of the menu

  one welcoming drink

  starts at Midnight (just in case this needed repeating)

  and the visiting chef is the star: so he or she is assisted by Swine kitchen staff; meaning he or she gets to go out and mingle with the community table during the meal rather than actually working the kitchen.   

I want to repeat that.  Swine actually provides the staff and the backup and the marketing to promote another restaurant’s chef.  Something that would only occur to someone who wanted to create a community of chefs, and could only be done by a group so successful that they can share their popularity.

The rest of this article is NSFV (Not suitable for vegetarians).

Ok, to the dinner.  Our Swine Chef is Phil Bryant; our guest chef is Georgio Rapicavoli of Eating House (and the winner of Miami’s hottest chef—that is most attractive chef—last year). Allegra from 50 Eggs is in charge of our drinks. 

Since it is a community table for the Midnight Table, we make quick friends with our tablemates.  Mostly foodies and culinary students.  Those who have been to Swine or Yardbird before agree that—even without the community table—the atmosphere of these restaurants is such that you usually end up talking to the people sitting next to you.  But the party atmosphere is even more pronounced tonight.  Our conversations revolve around food: favorite restaurants and chefs, favorite culinary television programs, and favorite foods. 

The opening drink is a French 75. This is a great sign since the French 75 is one of my favorite drinks and—except for bars in New Orleans—does not seem to be on anyone’s menu.  Very good sign.

Then on to the food.     

  A little after midnight they bring out cornbread. Like everything tonight, it is served family style with a serving plate placed between every 4 of you.

  Then the first course of swordfish, peaches and pigtails.  Sounds weird but tastes light and balanced. 

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  Next was veal sweetbreads over morel mushroom spoonbread with red-eye gravy au jus.  This was my husband’s favorite. 

  Around 1am we had scallops, miso sauce, pulled short rib meat and sweet potato.  Another dish that worked.  According to our guest chef, this was the dish he had most influence on.  It was great.

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  1:20 we’re on to crispy porchetta over barley risotto.  So good that despite being full we finish the dish. 

  It’s nearing 2 am when dessert of chocolate peanut butter and cornflakes is served.  We waddle home. 

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And, no, I didn’t feel great the next morning.  Or afternoon for that matter. But I’m game for the next one: signing up for the next Midnight Table if I can.

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*In the 1980’s several of South Florida’s most prominent chefs starting moving away from the familiar French-American and Mediterranean-California menus of the day and into menus that were more regionally faithful to Florida.  In 1989 this got the moniker “New World Cuisine.”   Two years later, four of these chefs determined to band together and work with each other to promote their style of cooking.  These chefs—Norman Van Aken, Allen Susser, Douglas Rodriguez and Mark Militello—became the famous Mango Gang. 

BY: Julia Johnston

2013 Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival

People ask me all the time if managing national events for the Jenn-Air brand is as glamorous as it sounds. I suspect they’re operating under the belief that all the job entails is traveling to fabulous locations, hanging out at food and wine events, and rubbing elbows with celebrity chefs.

My short answer is that while the job isn’t particularly glamorous, it certainly does have its perks. No matter where you’re traveling, when you’re on the road more than 120 nights a year, the bloom can fall off the rose. And I can guarantee you that no one on my team “hangs” at these events, binging on food and wine; we’re onsite working long hours to manage our brand activation and engage with consumers.

But every once in awhile, an event comes along that reminds me how lucky I am and what a great job I have. For me this year, that event was the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival held this past September 20-22. I’d never been to Rhode Island before and was gobsmacked on my first trip to Newport. The scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, the people are incredibly friendly, and the lobster rolls are truly addictive.

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Hosted at the grounds of historic Newport Mansions including The Elms, Rosecliff, and Marble House, this event is widely-recognized as one of the East Coast’s most sophisticated wine and food events of the season. Jenn-Air was honored to participate as the exclusive appliance sponsor this year.

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As a kickoff to the Festival, we partnered with Design New England to host 20+ select builders, designers and architects for an exclusive Festival preview. Our VIP guests explored latest collection of Jenn-Air appliances, enjoyed gourmet tastings, a private chef demonstration with samples (including both homemade mozzarella and foie gras milk shakes!), and an exclusive guided tour of Marble House.

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Over the weekend nearly 5,000 attendees enjoyed more than 135 wine and food samplings in the Grand Tasting, several wine seminars led by industry experts, and unique dining experiences set in the mansions.

In addition to interacting with thousands of consumers in our award-winning display booth in the Grand Tasting, we hosted hundreds of attendees during the culinary demonstrations on the Jenn-Air® Master Class Cooking Stage. This year featured celebrity chefs including Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, Johnny Iuzzini of Bravo’s “Top Chef Just Desserts”, Michel Richard of Central Michel Richard, Washington D.C., The Cooking Channel’s Ben Sargent, Jonathan Cartwright of MUSE at the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, and owner of Tallulah’s of Thames, Chef Jake Rojas. 

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After select culinary demonstrations, Jenn-Air Director of Marketing Brian Maynard emceed live auctions which raised a total of $7,000 for the Preservation Society of Newport County, the organization that protects and preserves the mansions of Newport.

Now typically I skip the after parties or any late night shenanigans, knowing I have to bring my A-game bright and early the next morning. I don’t know if it was the sea air, the friendliness of the Festival organizers and attendees, or just the possibility of another lobster roll…but I broke my rule and hit the after party, “Newport After Dark”, on Saturday night. Held at one of the city’s newest waterfront destinations, our group enjoyed a few cocktails on the bay.  At some point in the midst of my coconut martini (not as cloyingly sweet as it sounds) while overlooking a few four-story yachts and recounting our adventures of the day…historic mansions, foie gras milk shakes, vintage wines…I will admit, it did seem ever so slightly glamorous.

BY: Juliet Johnson

Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID, CAPS

Continuing our ongoing discussions with members of the Jenn-Air Design Advisory Council, kitchen designer Ellen Cheever offers insights on contemporary kitchen design. A Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) and National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Hall of Fame member, Cheever first gained prominence in the industry when she wrote two textbooks considered the basis of design education: Beyond the Basics: Advanced Kitchen Design and The Basics of Bathroom Design and Beyond.

For Ellen Cheever, a 42-year veteran of the kitchen design profession, career inspiration came very early.  With a modest budget of just $100, she was commissioned by her parents to redecorate her bedroom at the age of 12.

“I wanted something different, something with sparkle,” she said.  Among other touches, she painted pink polka dots on the wall for high impact at low cost.

Today, Cheever focuses on a broader range of considerations when starting a project.  First, she applies laser-like focus on the client’s input and needs, which often means helping them determine and crystalize their own vision for the kitchen. Next, she undertakes a thorough study of the existing kitchen space, how it flows, and how it can be altered for better use and visual appeal. And finally, taking a page from her earliest project, she identifies options for the “sparkle factor.”

Mixing, not matching, decorative hardware and customizing ventilation hoods are two ways Cheever likes to create such sparkle on a small scale. For a bigger design statement, she suggests focusing on sitting or gathering spots or incorporating unusual flooring, such as reclaimed barn wood.

Cheever doesn’t believe that kitchens always need to match the rest of the home, and often designs contemporary kitchens for more traditional homes. 

She reminds clients that contemporary design is not defined by geography.  It is not necessarily a “European style” but rather a style “of the present.” She defines contemporary design as large-scale storage and large-scale American appliances combined with a more streamlined aesthetic that becomes the overall foundation of a space. “A truly successful contemporary room marries the aesthetic with a balanced series of work, play and rest centers,” Cheever notes.

“A proper contemporary environment also focuses on texture and combines both natural and manmade materials,” she adds.  “While it honors the simplicity of shape and form that lies at the heart of any contemporary space, it replaces stark geometry with a softer sense of linearity.”

But as the word implies, being “contemporary” requires constant vigilance.  After more than four decades in the profession, Cheever still goes to great lengths to stay at the cutting edge of kitchen design.

“I don’t want younger clients to know something that I don’t already know 10 times more about,” she said.

Tasting Table Offers Design Inspiration

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending an event at the test kitchen and entertaining space that is home base to TastingTable.com, a Web presence for those of us who love kitchens, food and the adventures that go with those passions. The evening was hosted by Tasting Table to honor Jenn-Air for their sponsorship and support, and the space is a wonderful loft in the SoHo section of Manhattan. While this kitchen definitely has demands not placed on the typical residential kitchen, its design offers some great inspiration for all, so on a quieter day, I headed back there to learn more about the details and process that lead to this incredibly charming high function space.

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PROJECT PROCESS

The entire Tasting Table team, headed up by Geoff Bartakovics, CEO, was involved in the process that led to the finished space, and in Geoff’s words, it would not have happened without the design team. Designers Eric Cheong and Loren Daye worked with Geoff to create the space and select the products and finishes, and a real star in the process, according to Geoff, was Lee Alefantis from Tribeca Builders. A look at the before and after of this space certainly sings their praises.

Just as with any design, this process began with a list of the functions for the space and the wish list generated by the team. This kitchen and surrounding space would serve as a test kitchen where the master chef and the sous chef would convert restaurant recipes for home use. In addition, the foods would be photographed here.

Another typical activity would be small cooking classes and demonstrations run by guests from the restaurant world. The social space would be used by many in the business network of the team, and it would need to seat 30 for sit-down dinners and up to 75 for cocktails, with all food prepared in the kitchen. Although the vibe would need to be sophisticated, the space would also need to look and feel like home, and it does.

The space is an 1850s loft in SoHo, last renovated in 1972, and it needed considerable reworking to come up to the performance standards desired by the team while still maintaining its character. The original wood floors were sanded, stained and minwaxed and the brick walls were cleaned and sealed. Less than lovely conduit boxes that lined the loft were removed and cables carrying power were designed in. In the kitchen, three layers of floor had to be removed, and reinforcement added to level the subfloor onto which a herringbone pattern in tile was installed. Although not officially required, ventilation for the gas range was added as were extra heads in the sprinkler system. The wiring was replaced and of course redesigned, including a dedicated line throughout the space for camera work. As a result, the finished space more than complied with code and tremendous flexibility has been designed into the plan to suit the varied purposes.

THE FINISHED SPACE

Not only is this space one that I immediately warmed to, it’s also full of design ideas to appreciate and to adopt for residential work, and I have included a few of those ideas here.

First, the lighting was ingenious, with hanging pendants over the dining table and interspersed throughout the space. These pendants were connected to ceiling outlets and suspended by hooks, making them movable or removable depending on the function – think of those dining spaces that could benefit from this idea.

The cabinetry, made from reclaimed oak, included a number of cubbies with drop down doors and fewer drawers than you might expect. These cubbies were intended to house small appliances and did, but Geoff offered that more drawers would have been useful, given the number of tools and small gadgets needing a storage spot. One great detail was the base cabinet housing trays and baking pans, right at the point of use. Without a door, it served the chefs well and had a great “serious cooking” look to it. Storage for tools included color coded tape so that things could easily be returned to their appropriate storage spot. Oil paint was used on the baseboards to hold up to the abuse they would take.

Given the heavy use it gets, this kitchen is not far from the typical number of appliances and work zones that a home kitchen would have. The island offers a generous work surface when needed and the back of the island stores service for 30 of the many types of dishes that might be needed. With two cooks, careful preparation and a number of supplemental appliances and techniques, it is working beautifully, according to the chefs.

A pantry set off the kitchen houses crystal and flatware, as well as a back-up refrigerator and “kits.” Equipment specific to a cooking activity is stored in a plastic bin or kit that is stored in the storeroom, so, for example, when it’s a baking day, the baking kit is brought out – a great example of prioritizing which items need to be kept within reach and which can be stored steps away.

Forgive the pun, but this column is truly just a taste of the space at Tasting Table. For a closer look, you can go to tastingtable.com and view the video tour and more.

As we were winding up, Geoff offered these words to the design profession. “This has been so much fun that I was tempted to try my hand at designing, but on reflection, I knew there was so much to the process that I could not have done without my team, and my hat is off to you in the design field.”

BY: Mary Jo Peterson

2013 Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival

Jenn-Air was honored to return as the major appliance sponsor for the third annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, August 22-25, 2013. Located at various locations in downtown LA, the four-day event attracted more than 19,000 people who enjoyed a gourmand extravaganza of wine seminars, unique dining experiences, marquee events and culinary demonstrations.

This year we brought in two new Jenn-Air Master Class Culinary Stages which were used for multiple cooking demonstrations from renowned chefs including Giada de Laurentis, Masaharu Morimoto, Fabio Viviani, Curtis Stone and Duff Goldman.

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Following select demonstrations, Brian Maynard, Director of Marketing for Jenn-Air, auctioned a variety of prizes, including Jenn-Air® beverage centers, autographed cookbooks, and dining experiences in select chefs’ restaurants. The auctions raised more than $35,000 to benefit Share our Strength, an organization committed to ending childhood hunger. https://www.nokidhungry.org/

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One of my favorite things at Los Angeles Food & Wine (besides the glorious weather) is the Grand Tasting, held on Saturday and Sunday, where the actual chefs are working their booths. Many attendees are pleasantly surprised to find top talent like Ben Ford, Charles Phan, Laura Werlin and Bart Vandaele serving up their delectable bites. Come on, who hasn’t wanted to be served by Fabio Viviani? The chefs are incredibly approachable and are usually willing to hop out of the booth for a quick photo with a fan! From our vantage point in the Jenn-Air display booth, it was a blast to see peoples’ faces when they meet their favorite celebrity chef.

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In addition to showcasing Jenn-Air® appliances at the Master Class Culinary Stage and at our display in the Grand Tasting tent, we were proud to partner with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to present “The Perfect Pairing” at the Grand Avenue marquee events in Downtown LA on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The Center provides legal, social, cultural and educational services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, including unique programs for seniors, families, and youth.

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Guests visiting The Perfect Pairing display enjoyed Pinot Grigio from Barrymore Wines, European cheeses from Patina and an addictive coconut curried caramel corn from Street. Renowned chefs including Scott Conant, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken stopped by the booth to mingle with guests. An on-site photo booth offered guests the opportunity to snap photos with chefs, and immediately print and share the photos on their social media channels. More than 1,300 guests printed the branded shots and 200 left with a specially-designed t-shirt.

So there you have it, just another weekend for the Jenn-Air team…rubbing elbows with celebrity chefs, helping create buzz and awareness for two fabulous charities, and sharing our love of cooking and entertaining with the public. To see more, please click here for a highlights video from this year’s event!

BY: Juliet Johnson

Lessons in Party Planning

As a young woman with little entertaining experience, I’m very lucky to have Donatella Arpaia’s tips and tricks at my disposal. Having thrown more than a few parties in her life (and let’s not forget her culinary and hospitality track-record) she’s well adept at creating a fun atmosphere, mouth-watering menu, and sticking to a budget. Here are her top 10 simple rules for throwing an unforgettable bash.


Donatella & Her Little Man- The Calm Before the (Party) Storm

Donatella & Her Little Man- The Calm Before the (Party) Storm


It’s all about planning, and the first step is to write down the menu in advance. Make sure there’s enough variety to please the masses and avoid redundancy. In other words: have a few protein options, a couple starches, something light and something vegetarian. Donatella’s garlic green beans are perfect for entertaining- they can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.

The Perfect Vegetarian Side-dish

The Perfect Vegetarian Side-dish

Be wary of your audience. Before Donatella’s little man came along, the celebrity chef threw a party and neglected to accomodate the children. Not realizing they would refuse to eat imported buffalo mozzarella and aged proscuitto (crazy kids) she was met with acquiring minds: “where are the chicken fingers and french fries?” Donatella quickly ran out to McDonald’s- a restaurant she does not typically frequent- and ordered 100 chicken nuggets for the kids. Now, she makes sure to serve organic chicken tenders, chips, and gourmet hot dogs.


Don’t throw a “potluck” party. If you want help, assign guests to bring specific items. Otherwise, you’ll end up with 10 varieties of potato salad and no one wants that. Donatella’s father brought his signature focaccia bread,while Zia Donata brought 2 trays of lasagna and her famous ricotta cheesecake.

Assign Specific Items to Guests

Assign Specific Items to Guests

Stay true to you. Embracing her Italian roots, Donatella decided on an antipasti meat and cheese plate with tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives, and bread for appetizers.

Stay True to You

Stay True to You

Keep it simple, then jazz it up. Corn on the cob is an American favorite and key element to July 4th. To infuse a unique spin, Donatella served it boiled with a side of clarified chipotle butter. She gave the people what they expected, but added a special surprise.


Presentation is key. Paper plates and plastic cutlery are fine, but when it comes to presentation you should opt for something better. Instead of a typical shrimp ring served on ugly black plastic, put together your own shrimp cocktail platter. Find a large, shallow serving tray, fill it with ice, toss fresh shrimp and sliced lemon on top. Then, use a decorative  ramekin to hold store-bought or freshly-made cocktail sauce.

Presentation is Key

Presentation is Key

Buy better. Most American’s serve up a similar menu for their Fourth of July party: hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, etc., and that’s what we love about this summer holiday. Spend a few extra bucks investing in the best version of those foods. Donatella purchased her hot dogs from Esposito’s: a New York staple when it comes to butcher shops. In addition, she served home-made kettle chips from a nearby mom and pop shop. If you spend 70% of your efforts on  quality products, you’ll spend less time in the kitchen and more time schmoozing with guests. 


Pre-portioned is your friend. Especially when it comes to dessert- For a small party, an ice cream bar with a variety of flavors and toppings is fun, but for a larger party- buy individually wrapped ice cream sandwiches. Cupcakes and cookies are perfect as they lend a variety of flavors.

Pre-portioned is Your Friend

Pre-portioned is Your Friend

Mix your drinks ahead of time. Probably the worst clean-up project is the bar. It gets sticky, slippery, and down-right disgusting. To avoid a big mess, come up with 2-3 mixed drink options for your crowd and serve them in big drink dispensers. Donatella’s husband aka- the mixologist- choose a red wine-based sangria, tequila-based margarita, and vodka-based pomegranate cosmo. In addition, they filled large buckets with ice for beer, water, and juice.

Mix Your Drinks Ahead of Time

Mix Your Drinks Ahead of Time

And finally, one tip for the guests: Remember that your host has a lot of prepping, cleaning, cooking, entertaining, and serving to do. It’s customary to bring a gift, and you have two options. A) If you opt to bring something during the day of the party, make sure it doesn’t require any effort. Flowers are acceptable if they come in a vase, but if not- the host will be pulled away from her tasks and required to find a vase in a probably-disorganized kitchen. Donatella suggests a nice candle or bottle of wine instead. B) Send your thank-you cards and presents a few days after the party. The host will appreciate it much more when she’s in a relaxed state of mind.

BY: Donatella Arpaia