Nov 11

CBS KPHO Turkey Tips from Smart Kitchen.com

Chef Eric, who’s User Name is SK Chef on Smart Kitchen.com,  had a chance to share some holiday tips on CBS KPHO with Katie Baker.

His segment goes on after the commercial and details the locally-famous, even-cooking-inducing “Slit” and de-boning a Turkey Leg so that it can be stuffed and rolled. Anyone who attended the Perfect Turkey Event will tell you that the De-Boned, Andouille Sausage Stuffed Turkey Leg was a high point.  The CBS snippets are all drawing upon Smart Kitchen’s Perfect Turkey Preparation. Nice job chef.


Oct 11

“Perfect Turkey” Preview Party Re-Visits Roots: Root Veggies that is.

October 27th, was a good night to both brush-up on some long forgotten Pilgrim-inspired techniques and to learn a few new ones with Smart Kitchen.

20 lucky guests were invited to private party at the Scottsdale Waterfront, where Chef O’Neill demonstrated some of the techniques and dishes that will be taught at Smart Kitchen’s up-coming Perfect Turkey Event on November 9th, 2011. One of the favorites was how to enliven those once-a-year, root vegetables and take them to culinary perfection.

Chef O'Neill Talking Turkey to Cooking Party Guests

There are still a few spots so it is not too late to sign-up for the next Perfect Turkey Event and make your holiday that much easier & tastier. Smart Kitchen & Girl Meet’s Fork’s Perfect Turkey is November, 9th 2011 at 6 PM at

The Sub-Zero and Wolf Showroom Phoenix

15570 N 83rd Way
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260 

$35 includes: Recipes, Tasting, Demonstration

Girl Meets Fork is handling the sign-ups.

Jun 11

Whatza Runza Summer Food Drive

Read on and Find Out!

That’s what I thought too when our friend Kellen suggested that I add a search for a “Runza” to my foodless Nebraska leg. I had images of being pretty hungry to eat the spiny 7 legged Runza, but I planned to try one and curse Kellen’s name as I crunched on the horrid carapace and got graphic photographs.

A Good Sign! A Runza is a Sandwich, with 86 Franchised Units.

This was a good sign. My first Runza was not stored away frozen in a Nebraska storm cellar. Apparently, these Runzas were popular and advertized. Folks must like them enough if they needed a drive through and ordered them “fast-food” style.

If You Don't Want a "Runza" Get a Burger?

A quick, ethical-gut-check: “Weazel out and count seeing a Runza as a victory so I can order a burger?” No, couldn’t do it. Runza, ordered.

It Looks Safe

So before we unveil the Runza, what the heck is it? I asked Jeff Whiting, the local Gothenburg, NE franchisee.

Is that enough build-up? Now, the “UnVeil.”

TA DA!, a Runza. Thanks Kellen

So how was it? First of all, thanks Kellen for mentioning a Runza on the Smart Kitchen Facebook Page, apparently, such things really exist and are extremely fabulous tasting in rural Nebraska when your last meal was the previous day’s breakfast 30 hours ago and three states away.
The Runza is something like an un-sloppy joe on a terrific fresh, soft torpedo roll. It is a local German sandwich variant with local ground beef (Kansas & Nebraska), cabbage , and cheese, according to Jeff Whiting the local franchisee of the 86 unit Runza chain. If you have had a Made-Right sandwich in Iowa, a Runza is similar but moister and not square. I believe that a Runza is actually a riff on a “bierogie”, the German word for a “pierogie.”
How did it taste? Let’s just say that either I   enjoyed mine so much or was that hungry that I forgot to video it or snap a shot of it. I actually had to buy a second one, (can anyone spell Freud?) for the photo seen here.
The Runza chain started in Lincoln, NE and some of the fun is the rural, heartland setting in which the Runza is served. The drive-thru (rural welding truck) or the parking lot (tractor and irrigation canal) are very different from home.

A Mobile Welding Truck at the DriveThru

I Didn't See the Tractor Driving Farmer Inside but It's Bucolic

If you happen to be in Nebraska try and stop in to sample what might soon become the “In-N-Out” of the Plains.  If you stop in at the Gothenburg location, see Jeff and don’t miss the Pony Express Capital of Nebraska.

From St. Jo, MO to CA in 10 Days, Galloping 10 Miles at a Time.

P Chef
“The Smartest Way to Learn to Cook™”

Runza on Urbanspoon

Jun 11

Tecolote Cafe – Summer Food Drive 2011

Arriving at the Quirky (and Good) Tecolote Cafe

I was looking forward to my visit to Tecolote Cafe in Santa Fe for spicy, blue corn laden New Mexican food from the Vortex (Santa Fe is reputed/chided for being in an supernatural energy vortex) and I was not dissapointed.

"Tecolote" means Owl in the Nahuatl Aztec Indian Language

Tecolote Cafe is quirky but they know their food and the spirit of the cantankerous New England army cook and founder, Bill Jennison (who passed last May) pervades from the “No Toast” motto to Bill’s son-in-law Matt Adkins who runs the place with his wife Katie. Matt told me the “No Toast” story. Apparently, Bill was a crusty son of Massachusetts who worked around the hospitality business for many years, finally settling in Santa Fe. In the 1980’s Bill decided that Santa Fe, the adobe Disneyland, needed a breakfast spot dedicated to serving fresh LOCAL New Mexican food.
He sought out authentic recipes from his archives, his hospitality colleauges, and long time residents. He sampled the recipes around to his network. They loved the food but were not sure about his breakfast concept. As his former wife, who owned the Guadalopue Cafe and loved the food, but not the operating hours,  queried “Why do you want to be in a breakfast place where you will work yourself to the bone making this fabulous food, only to be answering complaint after complaint about the toast.” Bill had a simple, pragmatic New England answer. “No Toast!” and thus the Tecolote Cafe was born, without toast.

Tecolote Cafe is Quirky & Offbeat but Welcoming. Matt Adkins is seated @ Center

They do have fresh bread, home-made daily, but they don’t waste it on a side, like some of their competitors might.  Instead it only goes into higher value dishes like the French Toast. After Bill booted a few customers who insisted on toast too stridently, the motto became a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the other places, like the Pantry down the road, which do serve a lot of toast. Do you feel a food war coming on?
If I’d known that story when I sat down, I would have ordered French Toast too to have an opinion on the argument, but I had already submitted my request before Matt joined me. I was visiting to sample the Atolé Pinon Hot Cakes ($5.70), which translates as Blue Corn Meal, Pine Nut Pancakes. They sounded authentic and interesting.

Atolé Pinon Pancakes are Literally "Blue."

The first thing I noticed was that my hot cakes were “Blue,” the second was the attention to detail; the maple syrup was served piping hot. The pancakes are a different savory earthy experience that really can grow on you. They are very different in their specific taste, but similar in their adult pancake audacity to those from the Beach Grass Cafe in San Diego (bacon cheddar) that have won some national pancake awards. There is bouncing around from the taste undertones to the taste overtones.
Pine Nuts in Pancakes

The Atolé Piñon Pancake have Piñon (Pine Nuts) in them

As I’d been sitting waiting for the pancakes to arrive, and before Matt joined me, I read the menu and soaked up the “Fanta Se”, vortex conversations in the room. Two women at the table next to me actually uttered these gems. “The messages are in the air. You just have to follow them.” and “If you find yourself stuck deep down in a conundrum, call me. I will be there for you.” I can just imagine one friend phoning the other, from deep down inside a black swirling conundrum and the second friend steadying herself to throw a rope down into the maelstrom, to help haul her pal out. I wonder what I would have picked up at the community table?
While being a traveling food blogger “Aureur” (a new word for an aural voyeur?)  I surveyed the menu, where the printed attention to detail, around the Red Chili and the Green Chili caught my attention. The menu read “Our chiles flucuate from hot, to Very, to Very VERY HOT. So if you are not sure ask your server for a sample. ” That sentence sold me. Mindful that I still had yet another breakfast to eat I ordered an egg with two side dishes of chili: one red and one green.

Red or Green?

The chilis are both smoky with a fine heat that builds. I preferred the red, until I added salt to the green. Matt explained that they add just enough salt to the purely vegetarian chilis to mellow or balance the flavors of the peppers and the Roux. They expect you to salt to taste for yourself. How grown-up is that?
If you are passing through, Tecolote Cafe has been on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives for the Huevos Yuccatan, and won best Huevos Rancheros (in New Mexico) in 2001. When I come back through I am going for the Carne Adovada
P Chef
“The Smartest Way to Learn to Cook™”

Tecolote Cafe on Urbanspoon

May 11

2 New Banner Ads

We have two new banner ads going up on various food and culinary sites. What do you think?

Feb 11

Can People Learn to Cook by Watching Culinary Videos?

SK Chef, the boss, came across an interesting Daily Mail Article debating the very question Smart Kitchen puts to rest. Can people learn to cook by watching culinary programming? A few think “No” but the actual chefs seem to side with Smart Kitchen and say “YES YOU CAN!”

Chef Spike

Chef Spike (courtesy of the Daily Mail)

Spike Mendelsohn, child cook, acclaimed Top Chef contestant, graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and the kitchens of Chef Gerard Boyer at the famous Restaurant Les Crayeres in Reims, France,  Chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon Restaurant in Napa Valley and the Maccioni Family at Le Cirque in New York believes “absolutely.” Spike thinks that “cooking is about having the confidence to get in the kitchen and not being intimidated.” If people are into it they can watch and “then they have an understanding of the science and the reactions” when they cook. He is currently cooking and running Good Stuff Eatery with his Mom and family in Washington D.C. Good Stuff Eatery is a finalist for this year’s Summer Food Drive. 

Carol Blymire , with Alinea at Home the blog for the interesting and award winning Chicago restaurant Alinea says her mother learns how to make dishes from TV. Carol warns though that “people may fall into a trap if they think they can pull off the same thing in 22 minutes as Ina (Garten) or Giada (De Laurentiis).”  

Smart Kitchen™ agrees with the chefs. You can learn to cook by watching TV, but you don’t have to. In addition to TV, aspiring home chefs can learn from Online Cooking Schools, like Smart Kitchen™. The key to rapid progress is standing on the Toques (the big chefs’ hats) of the masters and learning to avoid their mistakes, discovered the hard way.

For $9.99 a month, Smart Kitchen™ teaches student about the Four Levers of Cooking™, essentially how to organize themselves so they can focus on one step at a time and perform crucial techniques at exactly the right moment, exactly the right way. Video, text, images, charts, and audio are employed  in a directed curriculum (or self-study) to bring 360° of clarity to each ingredient, technique, process and plan. Knowledge instills the confidence to practice. As Carol Blymire puts it “just like no one is going to get physically fit just by watching ‘Tae Bo (videos),’ you have to get off your a– (she means your burro) and actually cook.”

So our admittedly biased opinion is, that you can learn to cook by watching TV, but you’d learn quicker augmenting the celebrity recipes, with the requisite culinary education and background that Online Culinary Schools like Smart Kitchen offer. You can check out a free exercise on Smart Kitchen @ www.smartkitchen.com. It’s the “Smartest Way to Learn to Cook.™”

 P Chef

Smart Kitchen

“The Smartest Way to Learn to Cook™”

Feb 11

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

Don Alfonso Pizza from Pomo

The Quatro Stagioni

We have been hearing the buzz about Pomo for months now but have not been able to visit and sample the Verache Pizza Napoletana because Mrs. P Chef has been on a Gluten-Free diet for 4 months now (as a way to try and combat headaches). She unreasonably requests that we eat at places where she can find a filling, satisfying Gluten-Free Meal.

She even phoned Pomo in advance in December 2010 to see if they had any Gluten Free Pizzas, but being true to the ancient traditions requires gluten in the pizza dough. I am a lover of tradition as you can tell from the posts about what James Madison or Thomas Jefferson ate here or there and was dying to try authentic Neopolitan pizza. I am not against modern items either, in general if it is good, I like it, but there is a special place in my heart for the foods of our ancestors.

Perhaps Mrs. P Chef’s headaches stem from an insistent husband but she gamely tagged along (as did our friends Steve and Debbie). Mrs. P Chef had a nice salad, which is pictured below. I had the Buffala D.O.P. and was very impressed with the lightness, and crunch. The San Marzano D.O.P tomato sauce was excellent as was the signature buffala (buffalo) mozarella. The price is not light, $13-$17 for our pizzas but as experience, or an outing we thought it was worth it and will go back.

Buffala DOP Pizza

The Buffala DOP Pizza at Pomo

Before you go crazy asking yourself about the D.O.P., let me explain. D.O.P. stands for Denomination of Protected Origin in Italy. Did that help? Maybe not. In English we might call it a Protected Denomination of Origin, which means that the product so designated is made, processed and produced in a specific geographic area that has been thoroughly surveyed and certified. The reason for the claim is that certain regions claim to produce superior product by virtue of the land/climate. Think of Champagne, the most famous case. If that sparkling wine is not produced in the Champagne it is technically not allowed to use the name.  A similar term is Protected Geographic Indication, which means that at least one stage of the production of the product occured in the designated region.  So why does all that matter?

Buffala Mozarella from Pomo

A Gluten Free Side Dish Ordered for Mrs. P Chef

Come try Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana and find out for yourself. The Italian Buffala makes a difference, as do the San Marzano Tomatoes which are a good reason they named the joint Pomo (tomato in Italian).

The Parma Pizza

Mrs. P Chef's Gluten Free Roma Salad

They don’t have a Caesar’s Salad at Pomo but the Caesar substitute is the Roma Salad which Mrs. P Chef enjoyed. I hope she liked it enough to go back. If not the desserts, might be a draw.

Croccante alla Crema

The Croccante Alla Crema

The Croccante is a mixed nut basket, filled with mascarpone cream and topped with fresh seasonal fruit. 


Semifreddo Di Mandorle

The dessert above is the semifreddo di mandorle, which means semi cold in Italian but I have to admit I ordered it because I have always wanted to try the dish that is inexplicably linked up with the Godfather Series in my brain. The semifreddo is a traditional Italian dessert which is a very light cold mousse topped with amaretto cookies. I enjoyed mine but mostly from the place of being food curios. On my next visit I may be enjoying the Tiramisu.

Lastly, if you can’t visit in person, you might get a kick out of the History of the Pizza that Pomo has on their web site.

'Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Dec 10

Mac & Cheese Throwdown Tonight

Mac & Cheese Recipe for the Mac & Cheese Throwdown tonight at 5th & Wine to benefit the American Kidney Association

Time: 2 Hours

Yield: 4 Portions


(2) Leeks, (white part only)

(1qt tsp) Caraway Seeds

(1pint) Cream

(2oz) Whole Butter

(1lb) Penne Pasta

(1 cup) Panko Bread Crumbs

(3 sprigs picked leaves) Oregano

(1qt tsp) dried porchini mushroom powder- optional


Cutting Board

Large Baking Pan

Box Grater

Serving Spoon

Chefs Knife

Sauce Pan

Frying Pan

Large Sauce Pan

Food Processor


  • Gently Toast whole caraway seeds on low heat in the frying pan for 3 minutes
  • Grind the seeds finely in a food processor
  • Sweat the sliced leeks in whole butter until translucent
  • Add the caraway seeds to the leeks
  • Sweat both together for another minute
  • Now add your white wine, reduce until almost 2 oz of wine remains
  • Add the heavy cream to the reduced white wine and reduce the combination to  half it original volume
  • Now add the grated Gruyere cheese. Stir until all the cheese is completely melted
  • While the cream is reducing, boil the pasta to an Al dente firmness
  • After pasta is finished cooking, drain
  • Add sauce and toss until the pasta is covered
  • Place in container, top with a mixture of grated domestic or imported Gruyere cheese plus a 1/4th of parmesan cheese.
  • Return to the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until hardened


Topping Method

  • Melt whole butter
  • Add fresh oregano leaves
  • Sweat for 2 minutes
  • Add freshly grown black pepper
  • Add the panko and stir until the bread crumbs become light to a golden brown
  • When ready to plate, sprinkle bread crumbs over the Mac &’ Cheese when plated.

Oct 10

That’s Not Rhubarb

Red Celery photo, Red Celery, Larry Pierce, Duda Foods

That's Not Rhubarb, Its Red Celery

Going forward you best double check your Rhubarb, to make sure its not actually Red Celery.

This week celery was genetically modified, the safe old fashioned way, by generations of plant breeding since 1991. Larry Pierce ran the project which started with European Heritage varieties and ended this week with the unveiling of Red Celery at a produce trade show in Florida by Duda Farm Fresh Foods which cultivates 39,000 acres in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia & Michigan. 

Americans use an average of just over 6 pounds of fresh celery per person per year. If you plan to make red celery part of your diet, look for Red Celery in Stores around December 1, 2010, just in time for holiday cooking & centerpieces.

P Chef

Oct 10

Wal-Mart Promises to Produce for Local Farmers

Over the next five years Wal-Mart Corporation, the giant $405 Billion revenue retailer promises to dramatically increase the amount of local produce it purchases from small farmers in the U.S. and abroad. It’s goal is to double the amount of local food in its stores in the U.S.

The big questions will be if local producers can keep Wal-Mart supplied, and at what price. Hopefully, reducing waste and inefficiency (often up to 2/3 of best practices pay for themselves) will offset some of the upfront costs.

Wal-Mart can move the dial. We are pleased they are turning it towards the local farmer.