Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kitchen Time is Back!

Hey there! Well, I say kitchen time is back, like it left ... but it really never does. I'm referring to getting into the test kitchen for another run of Cooking for Real episodes. The pattern is, cook, write, test at home, plan menus, pitch, write more, test at kitchens, edit, plan, tape, edit, watch. That's the bare bones, leaving out some details. I'm currently in the "test at kitchens" segment of the process. Not everyone one has the same order, this is just the way we do it and it's made for a pretty smooth taping process.

Ok, where to start ... something colorful.
This is in a future show filled with hints of winter and spring ... hence the obvious in season item, the pomegranate seeds. I have to tell you, I went into testing with a completely different salad dressing recipe and there was also another green in there, but after tasting the dressing and making use of an ingredient that was just sitting around, I decided to simplify the recipe even more by removing the missing green. Anyway, I ended up with a better dressing and better salad. Now I have two similar, but very different salad recipes just 2 ingredients apart. I'm going with the one pictured for the show and will tuck away the other for another time. Side note, don't you hate it when your crisper acts up?!

Speaking of kitchen inspirations. This next pic is something we played with in our heads and then spent a day or two figuring out the mechanics. It again was another recipe to begin with and then the servings were too small for the theme of the show and the steps involved were too long. So, I decided to change it and I think egg lovers will really like this. The key is how to make everything crisp, when to add the egg, when to add the toppings, how long, what temp and most importantly, how to make sure the yolk was still nice and ooozy. (totally not a word)

I team this up with some other brunch ideas, but really to me it's a meal on it's own. Only missing a veggie and I can always sprinkle on some parsley or cilantro, eh? :-)

We tape 13 episodes and there are anywhere from 3-4 recipes per episode, so given the numbers and only a few days to test, we run through things pretty fast. That's plenty of cooking and tasting! A few minutes into testing yesterday a camera crew came by to tape us working as part of a tour video. Here's all the fuss around us trying to cook.
The big guy with the brace is Klaus. He's a steady cam operator and actually happens to be my steady cam guy for Cooking for Real. It's always nice to run into co-workers when you aren't scheduled to work together. Klaus is has a crazy resume of work, but one of my fave is he did the steady cam work for a Beastie Boys concert intro. One that I saw before I met him, so pretty neat to work with him and boy do we have fun on set! I'll let you know if the tour video becomes available online, there are some really neat parts of the tour and Joe, the host, knows so much about not only Food Network, but the history of the building and little known facts about Food Network shows. It's neat to see how everything comes together.

Here's a pic of something familiar ...
This is something that will never get old to me, making onion rings. I know I talk plenty about places I grew up and the different cuisines I was privy to as a child, but nothing beats my first paying job at Sonic in San Antonio, TX where I fought to work in the male dominated kitchen. Even still, they wouldn't let me get close to the grill top, I was stuck in prep. Which really wasn't bad. There's a zen-mode you can get into. Plus, skating in a skirt was fun for a day or two and tips were fine, but making onion rings, for some reason never got old. This batter is fool proof and sooooooooooooo flavor-laden -- no ketchup needed. Really. Then I grilled up some ham chops ...
They're sweet, they're sour, they're spicy, they're fast! Have you ever worked with a ham chop? May take a bit of looking, but any ham would work here. I just really love the chop cut. There's a really nice salad recipe in this menu along with one of my popover recipes I hope you give a try if you like to bake.

And I guess I'll end on a sweet note again, but before I do ... stick around for more kitchen pics and last time Santos and I had a Sear-Off ... this time around, it's another challenge and you won't believe the results! Ok, the sweets ...
This is a cookie I called The Best of Both Worlds cookie when I developed it while at HOT 97. It was right after the crazy R. Kelly and Jay-Z stuff that went down at Madison Square Garden, so I had some literal ingredients like nuts, because one of them was craaazy. And chocolate for the obvious reasons. I had a portion of the website just for recipes even back then, so it's nice to pull from my very earliest recipes and use it for the show. Since then, the recipe has grown into so much more and now it's migrated into a completely different cookie. This tastes like trail mix, but it isn't as healthy ... the butter and sugar see to that :-). Here's one ready for it's close up ...
Ok , check back in for more pics and maybe a lil trivia ...

14 comments:

Kenny said...

that egg dish looks so cool! great idea!

good luck with your tapings, can't wait to see them =)

btw, I just watched the episode where you made the french toast with caramelized pecans. yummy! I think I am going to make that next weekend. I never tried making french toast with brioche before, I'm excited to try it out.

Katie said...

Sunny-thank you for sharing how the "behind" the scenes works. I've always wondered how everything is done! I'm a huge food network fan and enjoy watching your show! Can't wait to see your new episodes in the coming months!

Mary said...

Well, it sure all looks good to me, but I'm all about that little individual egg thingy for sure! I'm a egg girl.

All that work behind recipes. Must be kind of fun to experiment and make changes - well, so long as somebody else is hopefully helping with the expenses! I hope!!

Lana said...

Nice! I've always felt that recipe development is a real un-tapped component to cooking shows. We, the audience, see the end result of many hours of this-ing and that-ing, tweaking, changing .... But it's rare to get a glimpse into why one ingredient was chosen over another or how the ingredient ratios were worked out. Hmm. Maybe I'm more of a food geek than a foodie? I think it's the research that interests me.

FN tours! I took a private tour with Joe in '08. The man is Da Bomb, and I ain't jokin'. He stayed late after-hours for us, totally nice, knows everything there is to know about the place, just can't say enough great things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XDHWjNMYB4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOIytssU2DM

None of us knew much of ANYthing about FN at the time; we were complete dolts about all of it. But he clued us in. If anyone ever has a chance to take a tour, do it. And say hello to Joe for me. *winks*

Sunny Anderson said...

kenny, thanks! i was gonna make an egg pie with a potato base and then we just started playing and decided to use the same ingredients and remix it. the egg pies were going to be in mini muffin tins and i wanted something bigger to go with the theme of the show. hope you like it when it airs. have fun with the brioche!! it's great for so much! pudding, croutons, croque monsieur's and more!

katie, of course, it's my pleasure. sometimes i look back on posts and have a selfish feeling of having a journal of this great time in my life. i usually just write to myself and when i began this blog, that slowed down to make way for this. pretty neat that i'm doing it to give a behind the scenes look, but i benefit as well. thanks for watching and reading! take a look back at some old posts and welcome to the blog!

mary, yeah, the huevos are bueno :-). eggs are pretty much the perfect food. so many uses. and you are right, the testing is fun when it comes to recipes. i take care of the expenses when i do them at home, then the network takes care of it when i submit them for the show. you'd think there's no need for the network test, but they test for other reasons like timing for the show and even color balance. no way i'd serve a meal all one color. so there's plenty of stuff that goes into it, but it's fun.

lana, ita about the development part. i can't say it enough ... that and other missing pcs of the puzzle are the reasons why i blog. i just feel with the time i have and the affinity for writing, why not me? because i gotta tell ya, no one told me about all of this lol. i totally would've been better prepared, that being said ... i'm surprised i've held up so well with the amount of recipes i churn out. cooking everyday helps, but i do take a day or two off. so you know, one of the toughest things is taping out of season. so in feb i'm taping for shows that air in the summer or early spring. i can use pomegranates, but when it runs, you can't get them ... so that's tough. and sometimes recipes get changed live on set because we run out of time or don't like the quality of an ingredient that day.
ok, i'm checking your youtube link. and i'll tell joe you said hi ... he's a true joy and always asks if it's ok for him to come on set during taping, 1st, i'm not the boss and i never care, but it's cute he asks every time.

tamilyn said...

The ham chops look so good, but I have never seen them before. I love a good onion ring! I remember the first time I made them at 15. One of my closest friends invited me to spend her birthday at her house and we made them. Awesome! She passed away 2 years later and I never eat an onion ring without comparing it to that night!

NikiTheo said...

That egg dish looks like something I'd be making an awful lot if I had the chance. And yummy cookies dipped in chocolate? Nice. I can't wait to see the new episodes!

Jen said...

Can you please hire me to be the Official Taste Tester for your "Cooking For Real" show?! Your dishes always look amazing!

My dream is to work at the Food Network somehow, someway! I absolutely LOVED it when I was there to visit a few years ago. The neighborhood there is beautiful. So if you have any tips or anything on getting a job there, please share with me! I'll do anything :)

That egg dish looks delicious! And so do those cookies! I’m totally a dessert person. If I could eat dessert before dinner I’d do that :)

Mausi said...

Hi Sunny! Cookies looks good! I myself made chocolate dipped shortbread cookies the other day. It was divine. I love cooking but I am having hard time coming up with my own recipes. How do you come up with all these recipes? I think it is amazing. I will keep cooking and maybe soon I will be able to come up with many of my own recipes like you do :-) Tonight, I am making shrimp with roasted garlic pest pasta which is my favorite recipe of yours! Cheers!

Sunny Anderson said...

tamilyn, thanks! they taste even better! what an onion ring story, see, that's when people understand how truly emotional food can be. glad to have you as a viewer, you seem like my kinda person.

nikitheo, it was good and yummy. not too much work, but total attn to detail. i think i may turn the cookies into a drizzle, the half dunk was a bit much on the chocolate side. i was going to add them into the cookie, but it was so crowded lol.

jen, u r silly! i don't know how to help tou with the dream, but if you are a foodie ... i'm sure there's a way!

mausi, thanks! i like cookie makers! why not? everytime i do it, it feels like i'm a kid again! you ask about coming up with recipes ... i liken it to an artist or a writer. you just have thoughts inside of you. i'm not really reinventing the wheel, i'm just doing what i do at home for the public. sometimes i just sit and think about flavors and methods and what would taste good. i have a notebook next to my bed because funny enough, i've actually dreamt recipes and meals. i think because my brain is on overtime, so even when i'm asleep, it's working. your pasta sounds yummy! i just had garlic overloaded shrimp lastnight out to eat in brooklyn. they brought an extra plate of the sauteed garlic and it was a bit undercooked and fiery! liked it!

lochnessa said...

Sunny! I'm a new fan. I love your show so much! Guess what? I'm originally from San Antonio, currently residing in Biloxi, MS because my husband is in tech school with the air force. I watch alot of food network and am learning to be a better cook for our little family but I absolutely adore watching you and your cooking ur recipes. Fabulous work!

Jojo said...

Oh my - that ham steak looks amazing. I had to take a moment there... :-)

Keep up the great work - looking forward to the new episodes!

Sunny Anderson said...

lochnessa, yaaaay! so glad to have you as a viewer! especially with a san antone link! i miss the alamo city :-). bet you miss it too! tell your hubby i said aim high even though that's old school lol. plus, congrats on having one of the hardest careers out there, the military spouse. enjoy the travel and embrace it, it's the perfect life for a foodie!! thanks for watching and welcome to the blog!!

jojo, glad it looks yummy to you, it looks better in person and even better on a fork headed towards my mouth lol. hope you like the recipe when it airs. it's so simple it'll make you mad. i start taping the net run of shows in a few short weeks! thanks for the support!

laura said...

I love your show!!! I'm 24 years old and hate to cook but you make everything so simple I love it! Wish you only good things... by the way do you have a cook book?
- Laura