Chef Alex Guarnashelli is a television personality, cookbook author, and the executive chef of not one but two New York City restaurants; Butter and The Darby. She is also one of only a handful of chefs that has earned the title "Iron Chef" after winning season 5 of the Food Network's "Next Iron Chef: Redemption" competition. She is also a regular judge on food network's hit show, "Chopped" and next month she will compete in "Chopped All Stars." Her first cookbook, "Old School Comfort Food" will be released in April.
Special section: food and wine
Guarnashelli inherited her love of food and cooking from her parents, both avid foodies. Her mother, is a world renowned cookbook editor, and was the senior editor of the 1997 revision of "Joy of Cooking." Guarnaschelli learned to eat according to whatever book her mother was working on at the time: one year was devoted to Indian with "Classic Indian Cooking" by Julie Sahni; another year was devoted to Italian with the "Splendid Table" by Lynne Rossetto Kasper.
The mother and daughter duo share their ultimate dish, meatloaf.
Serves 6 to 8
2 teaspoons canola oil, plus more if needed
2 small yellow onions, minced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef (preferably 8 ounces ground sirloin and 8 ounces ground chuck)
3/4 pound ground pork (preferably shoulder)
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs, plus more if needed
2/3 cup ketchup, plus more for brushing, preferably heinz
1 cup sour cream
1 medium bunch curly parsley, leaves chopped
1 medium bunch fresh tarragon, leaves chopped (2 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus another as needed
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Make the meatloaf mix: in a medium skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring from time to time, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and set aside to cool. Reserve the pan; do not wipe it out.
3. Put the beef and pork in a large bowl and gently knead them together with your hands. Spread the meat out on the bottom and the sides of the bowl and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Add the paprika, the pepper, bread crumbs, ketchup, sour cream, parsley, tarragon, the onion mixture, and 3 of the eggs. Mix to blend.
4. Taste test: heat the skillet over medium heat; if there isn't a sufficient layer of fat left in the pan, add a little more oil. When the pan is hot, lower the heat and add a small piece of the meatloaf mixture. Cook until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and taste. If too moist, add more bread crumbs. If too dry, add another egg.
5. Cook the meatloaf: mold the meat mixture into the shape of a rectangular loaf pan, roughly 9 x 5 inches, and place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. The meat will feel slightly wet. It should form into a ball but still stick to your hands slightly. Bake for 15 minutes.
6. Brush the meatloaf with additional ketchup and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until the meat is firm when touched or when it has an internal temperature of 150 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes more. Remove from the oven, pour off any excess grease, and allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Brush again with ketchup, if desired.
My favorite rice pilaf
Serves 8 to 10
2 cups basmati rice
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed, black seeds removed, pods discarded
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
12 whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
1 large red onion, finely diced (about 12 ounces)
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
2. Prepare the rice: put the rice in a strainer and rinse quickly in cold water. Put the rice in a bowl, add 4 cups cold water, and let soak for 30 minutes.
3. Make the spice mix: on a rimmed baking sheet, combine the cumin, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Put in the center of the oven to lightly toast the spices and awaken the flavors, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan and allow the spices to cool.
4. Cook the rice: heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, bay leaves, and onion. Season with salt and cook until the onion is translucent but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the spices. Drain the rice but reserve the soaking water. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes, until you hear it crackling. Lower the heat if needed. Then add the reserved water. Stir gently. Season with a generous portion of salt and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the rice over medium-low heat, uncovered and undisturbed, for about 8 minutes. Take a fork (so as not to damage the rice) and flake a few grains off and taste for doneness. It may need another 2 to 4 minutes until cooked. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes before fluffing it gently into a bowl and serving. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon if desired.
Serves 4 to 6
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
12 medium to small carrots (about 1 1/4 pounds total), thoroughly peeled, stems removed, and halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager, such as heineken
1. Cook the carrots: heat a skillet large enough to hold the carrot halves in a single layer over medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter melts and starts to brown, add the coriander and caraway seeds and toss to coat with the butter. Toast the spices for a minute in the butter. When they become fragrant, add the carrot halves and toss to coat with the butter. Season with salt and add the brown sugar.
2. Finish the dish: continue to cook the carrots over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and coats the carrots, another minute or two. Add the beer and continue cooking the carrots until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 25 to 30 minutes. If the beer cooks down completely before the carrots are tender, add a splash of water to finish the cooking process, if needed. Taste for seasoning.
3. Serve immediately.
Green bean casserole
Serves 8 to 10
1 pound string beans, ends trimmed, halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced into 1/2-inch slices (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
4 cups canola oil
2 medium red onions, cut into thin rounds
1. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and add some cold water. Set a colander squarely inside the ice bath. The colander will keep you from having to pick the ice out of the beans.
2. Prepare the green beans: when the water boils, add 2 tablespoons salt and the green beans. Cook until the beans yield slightly when pierced with the tip of a knife, 4 minutes. Using a strainer, remove the green beans from the hot water and transfer them to the colander inside the ice bath. Swirl the beans around in the bath so they cool quickly. Drain and set aside.
3. Make the mushroom base: in a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the mushrooms. Season with salt, 1 teaspoon of the cayenne, and the mustard. Stir to blend and cook until the mushrooms give off most of their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a whisk, add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the flour. When all of the flour has been incorporated, add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the cream and sour cream and simmer gently. Continue cooking over low heat until the mixture thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. You should have about 2 cups.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
5. Fry the onions: meanwhile, pour the oil into a medium frying pan and line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel and have ready a slotted spoon.
6. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Toss the onion rounds in the flour and shake off excess by shaking the rounds in a strainer. Test the oil by dropping in one onion slice. It should begin to bubble and fry gradually. Drop a small batch of the onions into the oil and gently swirl them as they fry. When they are light to medium brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, remove with the slotted spoon and lay them out on the kitchen towel to cool. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all of the onions have been fried.
7. Assemble the casserole: stir the green beans into the mushrooms. Simmer on the stove, over low heat, until the green beans become tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in half of the onions. Transfer the skillet to the oven for 10 minutes to give the casserole that baked effect. Top the outside of the dish with the remaining onions and serve.
3 pounds granny smith apples (about 8 large)
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus additional lemon zest for optional garnish
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/ 2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the dish
1 pint vanilla ice cream for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease the bottom and sides of a shallow rectangular baking dish (about 9 x 13 inches) with butter.
2. Make the filling: core and peel the apples. Cut each in half and then into thin slices. Put the slices in a bowl and toss with the molasses, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss to blend.
3 . Make the topping: in another bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the butter to the bowl and use your fingers to integrate the flour with the butter.
4. Bake the crisp: layer the apples in the buttered dish and top evenly with the topping. Bake until the apples are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the topping is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least a few minutes before serving. Top with additional lemon zest, if desired.
2 ounces gin, such as plymouth
2 ounces fresh lemon juice with some pulp, chilled plus some of the lemon juice set aside
2 ounces fresh tangerine juice with some pulp, chilled plus some of the tangerine zest set aside
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (for garnish)
16 ounces dry champagne (or sparkling wine), chilled
1. In a shaker or any container with a fitted lid, shake together the gin, lemon juice, tangerine juice and honey.
2. Put the sugar on a small plate and sprinkle the lemons and tangerine zests over it. Gently "roll" the rims of four champagne glasses in the zesty sugar.
3. Distribute the gin- citrus mixture evenly into the four glasses and top each off with the champagne.
4. Serve immediately