Saturday, March 15, 2008

Super Chef Challenge!!

The Lunch Box Dilemma

Our 2nd SuperChef challenge!

By ClubMom Shopping and Cooking Expert Stephanie Gallagher

Stephanie Gallagher, a.k.a., “The Shopping Mom,” reveals her closely-guarded shopping secrets and money saving tips in her blog, The Shopping Mom’s Favorite Things. She is also the author of four books, including The Gallagher Guide to the Baby Years, Fabulous Bargains, The Everything Baby Resource Guide and Money Secrets the Pros Don’t Want You to Know.

Faster than a speeding blender, more powerful than a Ginzu knife, able to whip tall meringues in a single mound. It’s a lemon curd! It’s a microplane! It’s SuperChef!

Stay tuned to see how these mild-mannered men and women wielding knives of steel handle the heat of a real family kitchen...

You’ve seen them on TV. Read their books. Heard stories about their legendary restaurants.

With their Viking ranges, fine ingredients, and bevy of sous chefs to assist them, celebrity SuperChefs create mouth-watering meals with effortless ease.

But what if they had to work a night in your kitchen? Cook after shuttling kids to 5 p.m. soccer practice? Cope with finicky friends staying for dinner after playdates? Cater to that most discriminating of all palates — the three-year-old picky eater?

Could they handle the pressure?

We decided to find out.

Welcome to SuperChef Challenge, where each week, two celeb-u-chefs are pitted against each other in a race against time, funds, and the lure of the fast food drive through.

In this week’s Challenge, our SuperChefs face a predicament that confronts moms across America every day: The Lunch Box Dilemma.

You’re tired of giving the kids the same thing every day for lunch, but whenever you try to give them something beyond the usual PB&J or bologna sandwich, they reject it. What to do?

The Challenge:

Create a kid-friendly lunch box meal that goes beyond the usual bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly.

The Rules:

It must be transportable (able to go in a lunch box with or without a cold pack), healthy, delicious, and sure to please even the pickiest appetite.

The SuperChefs:

Margaux Sky, author of Beautiful Breads and Fabulous Fillings.

Cricket Azima, founder of The Creative Kitchen.

Margaux Sky gained notoriety when Oprah tasted her Curried Chicken on Spicy White Pepper Jack bread sandwich and proclaimed, “This is the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted.”

Oprah was in California meeting with Sky’s brother-in-law, Tim Bennett, who is the head of Harpo Productions. They ordered out from Sky’s restaurant for lunch. When Oprah tasted the sandwich, she was floored. She immediately invited Sky to be on her show in an episode titled, “My Favorite Sandwich.”

Fans began clamoring for the now-famous “O Sandwich” at Sky’s former restaurant, The Art Café & Bakery.

Sky no longer owns the café, but she included the recipe for “The O Sandwich” in her book, and you can order the curry sauce and the spicy white pepper jack bread from her web site.

Cricket Azima is a professional chef who travels all over New York City teaching cooking classes for kids. She says cooking is a great way to teach kids everything from reading to science, social studies and math.

“I work on the Montessori education theory, where kids retain information about social studies, geography or math because they’re touching, feeling, smelling and tasting it,” she says. “For example, when I say, ‘Take this strip of orange pepper and cut it into quarters, I ask, how many pieces is that?’ Or I ask, ‘How hot is boiling? On a hot day in New York, the temperature is 90 degrees. Is that boiling?’”

The goal of all of The Creative Kitchen products, which include DVDs and books as well as the cooking classes, is to help children develop healthy lifelong eating habits and a positive relationship with food.

The Results:

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge Bread with Strawberries and Cream Cheese
By Margaux Sky

2 oz. cream cheese
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons strawberry jam
2 slices of Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Bread (recipe below)

Spread the cream cheese on one slice of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge Bread. Next, spread the strawberry jam over the cream cheese. Then, layer the strawberries evenly over the strawberry jam. Cover the sandwich with the top slice of bread and slice diagonally.

For the Peanut Butter Fudge Bread:

1/2 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 cup warmed milk
1 cup warmed ½ & ½
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) butter (melted)
1/8 cup powdered sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tablespoons salt
2 cups of organic peanut butter
2 cups of *Creamy Chocolate Fudge Topping (use your own favorite, such as Ghiradelli Chocolate Fudge Topping or make your own using the recipe below)
1/4 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the milk and half and half. Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is foamy. Add the butter and mix with a whisk. Add the powdered sugar and mix well to break up any clumps.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and knead well. If you're using a stand mixer, knead for 3-4 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for 4-6 minutes on a lightly-floured countertop. Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread (so that it is not sticking to the counter top when rolling, but is more moist than one might think a dough should be.)

Place the kneaded dough in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise in a warm dry place for 60 minutes.

Punch dough down with your fist and pour onto a floured counter and roll out into a 9 x 11 inch rectangle so that the long side is perpendicular to your body.

Spread the peanut butter evenly over the dough. Spread the Creamy Chocolate Fudge Topping over the peanut butter.

Generously butter a 9" loaf pan.

Tightly roll the dough into a loaf with the rolling action going away from your body. To hold in the filling, fold in the outer edges of the dough as you roll. Place the loaf in the loaf pan, cover and let rise another 45-60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Ovens vary so test for doneness. Remove the loaf from the pan and tap the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it's done. If not, continue baking, checking every few minutes.

Remove from oven when completed. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over the bread. Let the bread cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool another 30 minutes.

*Creamy Chocolate Fudge Topping

1½ - 2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine the powdered sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, whipping cream, and chocolate on low heat, stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to thicken and boil. Cook, stirring, for 5 - 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Mix vigorously until well blended.

Yields approximately 4 cups. (Use additional Fudge Topping for breads and desserts.)

Panzanella (Italian bread salad)
By Cricket Azima

1/2 medium loaf whole-wheat country bread
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella
4 small tomatoes
4 stalks celery
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 red onion
1 small bunch fresh basil
1/3 cup olive oil (or to taste)
1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

*If you want to add some protein: add a 1/2 cup diced salami, diced pepperoni, canned tuna, or white beans as a tasty addition to this dish.

Tear (or cut) the bread into large cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.

Dice the mozzarella, tomatoes, celery, cucumber, peppers, and onion. Add them to the bowl of bread. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the bowl.

Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to the bowl, a little at a time, until the desired taste is achieved. Mix the dressing into the bread salad.

By lunch time, the salad will be moist and all of the flavors, well combined.

Serves 8

Which Recipe Do You Like Best?

Make sure to tell us which recipe was a hit at your house in the comments field!

© Stephanie Gallagher, 2006.

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