Top Chef Episode 12: Spike Exits

Okay, so we’re late again. That’s ok though because it really won’t take long to tell you the most important part of Top Chef’s Episode 12, High Steaks:


Unfortunately it seems as though Citizen Chef has lost his touch, as he did call Spike as the loser, but the jerk did walk off the set with the use of his legs, contrary to what was predicted. I, for one, want my money back.

The Next Food Network Star

So last night I sat down and watched the first episode of this season’s “The Next Food Network Star”. I thought it was going to be another snooze-fest.

Photograph courtesy of The Amateur Gourmet

It was actually pretty good. What I like about this show is that it’s not just about being a culinary genius, but it’s about the personality and showmanship of the cook. What I mean is, it’s unlike competitions such as Top Chef, where it’s really hard for a viewer to feel like they are a part of what is happening because we don’t taste the food. All we can do is guess, based on whatever the producers of the show tell us. With The Next Food Network Star, it’s easier to feel involved because we know what kind of a host we want to watch when we sit down in front of the boob tube. Unfortunately, the food is less important.

Maybe you disagree, so I’ll say this: If food was more important, we wouldn’t have Sandra Lee.


Anyway, the show was interesting. Each host had a very different background and a neat story that made you want to watch them (their own personal hook). The finalists are listed on the Food Network site here. Surprisingly enough, there were a lot of people that I expected to do really well, and did poorly. The ones I expected to do poorly actually did quite well. What was made plain to the audience (and the contestants) is that being a television personality is not easy. It’s hard not to cringe when some of the contestants get in front of the camera.

It isn’t too late to get caught up if you wanted to sit down and catch it on Food Network. So far only the first show has aired, and you can probably catch it again on a rerun if you wanted to see it. It’s not a bad watch. I wouldn’t replace Top Chef or Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares for it, but it’s something different from the usual food reality shows that would be worth catching from time to time.

Weeknight Cooking: Chicken Tetrazzini


This dish is called “tetrazzini,” although it isn’t really. According to Wikipedia, a tetrazzini, originally named after opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini, is an American dish “usually involving a non-red meat, mushrooms, and almonds in a butter/cream and parmesan sauce flavored with wine or sherry, over spaghetti”. This dish only meets three of those criteria, but the person who supplied the recipe that I’ve based my version off of calls it a tetrazzini, so we won’t change it.

If you cook for picky eaters, the budget-conscious, or you’re just far too tired to whip up anything that requires effort, this is for you. Kids love it: a bowl of spaghetti, cheese and chicken – how horrible could it be? I’m not even a big fan of frozen peas, but how can I possibly dislike them when they’re smothered in a cream of chicken sauce and cheddar cheese? Answer: Inconceivable!

Chicken (Not Really A) Tetrazzini
Adapted from Recipezaar
2 cups spaghetti, broken into 2 inch pieces
2 chicken bouillon cube
3/4 cup boiling water
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can low-sodium cream of chicken soup
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat your oven to 350°F, and take out two medium-sized cooking pots.

Cook up your spaghetti in one. Boil the water and follow package instructions. Note: Sometimes I don’t have enough of one kind of spaghetti, but I do have a couple of varieties with only a little in each box. Instead of letting that go to waste, I will often cook the different spaghettis up together – elbows, farfalle, penne, whatever – into this dish. It’s a nice way to use up any of the remaining noodles so they don’t go to waste.

In the other pot, drop in your bouillon cubes and the 3/4 cup of water. Turn the burner on to medium. When the water starts to boil, take a fork and help break down the bouillon cubes until they are dissolved.

Start dumping everything else on the list in, up until the cheddar cheese. We’ll want to add the cheddar cheese right before sticking it into the oven — burned cheese tastes nasty so let’s hold off on that. Mix to combine and turn the burner down to low. Let it cook until the pasta is finished.

Once the pasta is finished, drain it and pour it into the pot that has your chicken mixture. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese and mix everything to combine.

Pour that into a glass baking dish, cover with foil and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Let’s hear it for one-dish meals. They’re the best!