He accepted The Early Show Saturday Edition's "Chef on a Shoestring" challenge, and went back to basics in seeking to serve up a creative, tasty, three-course meal for four, on our recession-busting, $35 budget.
Oh, and did we mention the menu included - homemade donuts?!
Michael also threw his chef's hat into our "How Low Can You Go" ring. The "Shoestring" chef whose total cost of ingredients is lowest will be invited back to prep our blowout, end-of-year holiday meal!
Michael tries to create a neighborhood, laid-back, bistro-like feel in his restaurant, one where there's always something you want on the menu - with serious good eats!
And he's just been named a finalist for the 2009 Best Chef: South James Beard Award - the culinary world's Oscars - and widely considered the highest honor a chef can receive.
His menu on the show included Date & Orange Salad with Toasted Almonds, Braised Chicken Thighs with Apricots, Green Olives & Cous Cous, and Homemade Doughnuts with Orange Marmalade.
Marmalade: A fruit preserve usually made of citrus fruits. British-style marmalade is sweet marmalade with a bitter tang made from fruit, sugar, water and zest. American-style marmalade is sweet, not bitter. In English-speaking usage, "marmalade" almost always refers to a preserve derived from a citrus fruit, most commonly oranges. The recipe includes sliced or chopped fruit peel, which is simmered in fruit juice and water until soft. Marmalade is most often consumed on toasted bread for breakfast.
Chicken Thighs: Dark meat contains more fat than white meat; therefore, the chicken thigh has more fat and cholesterol than the more popular breast meat. But that's still less fat than you will find in an equal serving of beef, pork or lamb. Chicken thighs are also the most economical part of the chicken, costing about half what you would pay for boneless skinless chicken breasts.
Date & Orange Salad
3 ounces sliced almonds
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 naval oranges
12 dates-pitted & halved lengthwise
1 head bib lettuce
1/2 small red onion (thinly sliced)
1 bunch of Italian parsley (picked & washed)
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice & olive oil, set aside.
Spread the sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
Cut approximately ¼ inch off the top & bottom of the oranges. With a sharp knife cut the pith & peel off the orange, following the contour of the fruit. Work from the top to the bottom of the orange, rotating the fruit as you go. Slice each orange into 6-8 thin rounds.
Separate the leaves from the head of the bib lettuce. Wash thoroughly & spin to dry.
In a large mixing bowl combine the lettuce, oranges, dates, onion, parsley & the lemon juice olive oil mixture. Season with salt & pepper & gently toss.
Divide evenly into 4 bowls. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.
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