Chef Jasper Mirabile Serves Up Italian Appetizers to First Lady Michelle Obama

Well, that title pretty much sums it all up.  But, brevity has never been one of my strong points.

I wanted to take a minute to give a huge shout out to Chef Jasper of Jasper’s Restaurant in Kansas City, MO, who got to feed the first lady his unique brand of classic Italian dishes inspired by foods produced right here in town and ingredients from his home town.

I’ve seen the menu (Boulevard Pale Ale Lobster Mac & Cheese, which was previewed in a slightly different form at the Chocolate Experience), Louisberg Cider Glazed Guanciale, Chilled Leek and Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Garlic Chives, local roasted chicken and on and on the menu goes.

My only regret is that Ms. Obama did not get to sit down at the legendary Kansas City restaurant where, undoubtedly she would have experienced what it meant to be Jasper’s full, but oh well.  From the looks of it, I am sure she got a decadent meal.

In all seriousness, I am extremely proud of Chef Jasper and his entire team.  It’s not every day you get to cook for the first lady and I’m just happy to say that I know you.  I am less happy to think what this will do to my chances of getting a table at Chef’s restaurant any time soon.  /Sigh

Anyway, keep up the good work.  And if you want to have a Presidential Experience and let us taste some of the creations on your menu, Chef Jasper, you know I’m okay with that!

Oh, and One Other Chef Deserves a Major High Five

Chef Terry Mille of Cowtown Cheesecakes was also on hand to serve his CowTown Sweet Potato Cheesecake Missouri Praline Bourbon Drizzle.  So that’s two chefs I am seriously proud of.

Oh, and if you like cheesecake, try Chef Terry’s.  They’re about as perfect as cheesecake can be: sweet, just the right texture and firmness and the flavors.  Oh the flavors.  Lemon curd, chocolate, creme brulee, and the above mentioned sweet potato cheesecake.  Seriously, they’re divine.  My wife is ordering three next time she has the girl’s over.  (Not that I think she’ll serve them, I think we’ll have them all eaten, but still.)

Anyway, congrats to all!  You all deserve it.


(Oh, and Chef Terry I grabbed that picture from your Facebook page.  If you want me to, I’ll take it down.)

Red Gold Diced Tomatoes

Red Gold Diced Tomatoes

Red Gold Tomatoes

So, every year Red Gold Tomatoes sends me an awesome gift tin filled with some of the coolest food swag imaginable.  This year I got Red Gold stationary, a cool pencil, and a toy that BWD, Jr. claims as his own.   (Last year it was a Red Gold 18-wheeler, this year we got a sweet Red Gold roadster which I would have taken to the office if someone’s grubby little fingers hadn’t grabbed it first.)  Most importantly, though, the tin is filled with Red Gold canned tomatoes (still in the can, not loose and sloshing around.)

This year’s take included Diced Tomatoes, Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano, and other edible masterpieces.  Woot!

Wait…Canned Tomatoes?!

Every now and then, I still get this question.  Yes, I use canned tomatoes.  Yes, I swear by them.  Me and Mario Batali both.  (You may have heard of him.)  Why you may ask?

Largely it’s a convenience thing.  I can halve my own tomatoes, deseed them, roast them, and puree them to make a sauce that’s pretty much better than anything in a can.  However, that process takes at least an hour and the result, while good, doesn’t justify the additional time.  Besides, just because I can pull out the stops and make something amazing doesn’t mean that canned tomatoes aren’t great.  It does mean that if I was a purest and only ate homemade, there’d by no quick-and-easy spaghetti dinners on busy school nights.

Does Red Gold Make a Difference?

So, +1 for canned tomatoes, but does the brand make a difference?  Absolutely.  Even in Red Gold’s “plain” diced tomato cans (which are plain only in they are not spiced nor do they include additional ingredients like onions, cilantro, etc.), you can tell a difference between Red Gold and other canned tomato brands.  Red Gold has a bolder, fresher tomato taste that tends to be a little sweeter than other diced tomato brands.  (And believe me, it pains me to say that.  I’ve been a Hunts man most of my life.)

All of which means that when you’re shopping around, you should really give the yellow-labeled Red Gold tomatoes a shot.  I think you’ll find that the finished product really does turn out better, whether you’re making Swiss steak, spaghetti sauce or a big pot of delicious chili.

Oh, did I mention I was making chili?  ‘Cause I am.  And I am going to use Red Gold dice tomatoes, probably the Culinary Classics Diced Tomatoes with Chipotle or the Diced Tomatoes Roasted Garlic & Onion, but we’ll see when I hit the store.  (Tomorrow’s Grocery Day.)

Chris’s Champion Contest Winning Chili

Okay, so the title is a bit forward-looking since the contest is Friday, but I’m a “fake it until you make it kind of guy.” Still, I’ve made this before and it’s a crowd pleaser.

You will need:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil*
  • 2 onions, diced
  • Salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 cans Red Gold diced tomatoes, your choice
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, minced
  • 4 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup chocolate, grated
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

In a soup pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and let it get very hot.

Add the onion, a pinch of salt and the garlic, then saute until the onions turn translucent, about 8 minutes.

Next, add the ground beef, oregano, and black pepper and brown the ground beef.  Once brown, add the diced tomatoes and their juice.  Cook for about four minutes, or until the juice starts to thicken.

Add the chipotles, adobo sauce, and beef stock and continue cooking until it the liquid in the pot is reduced by about half.  Finally, add the chocolate and the rest of the ingredients.  Stir to melt the chocolate.  The chili is ready when it begins to bubble.

Okay, that’s my award winning Red Gold chili.  Eat and enjoy!

Thanks to Red Gold for the image.


Macy’s and SheSpeaks Recipe Share Program

Got a favorite holiday recipe?  Wanna win $1,000?  (I do!)

If so, great!  Because SheSpeaks has teamed up with Macy’s to offer the Recipe Share Contest which will award one lucky winner $1,000 and the chance to get their recipe featured in Food Republic!  Not too shabby, right?

(Oh, and if you are a regular reader and remember the SheSpeaks Aetna Healthy Food Fight contest…um…yeah…those rules don’t apply here.  This is holiday cooking.  It’s about comfort and chocolate and butter, which is okay because no one gains weight off holiday cooking.  Trust me.  I’m a food writer. :))

What do you need to do?

Well from November 1st to November 30th, all you need to do is:

1. Head to
2. Click the Recipe Share tab (it's on the side bar)
3. Submit your recipe
4. Share the contest via Facebook and Twitter

Really, it’s that’s easy.

So…what recipe you’re going to submit?  I’m thinking holiday punch, maybe my mom’s Christmas noodle soup, maybe a new family creation.

Who knows…but let the best recipe win!

FCC Disclosure: SheSpeaks and Macy’s provided incentive for this post.  With that said, I still am working up a recipe for the content.  I could use $1,000 this Christmas.

About Macy’s:

Established in 1858, Macy’s is the Great American Department Store – an iconic retail brand with over 800 stores across the country and online at Macy’s offers an incredible selection and the best brands, tailored to each and every customer, while providing an experience that transcends ordinary shopping.

A big part of Macy’s unique heritage includes our special events?the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Fourth of July Fireworks, flower shows, fashion extravaganzas, celebrity appearances and holiday traditions that range from the arrival of Santa Claus to tree lightings and festive window displays. But beyond our signature events, Macy’s delivers magical moments every day through our shopping environment, service and merchandise – a great deal of which is sold exclusively through our stores. It’s all part of the excitement we’ve been creating for 151 years, and it’s all part of the magic of Macy’s!

Golden CannoliWhen no one was looking, I snuck a bite of this thing and chipped a tooth.  Not cool guys.  Not cool.

Jasper’s Restaurant Announces

To celebrate Jasper’s National Cannoli Month, local baker and jeweler collaborate to make
The Golden Cannoli; Jasper’s sells a 24k gold cannoli.

Kansas City, MO (Sept. 12, 2011) – Kansas City’s King of Locavore and an intrepid traveler on the mythical
Cannoli Trail, celebrated Master Italian Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr., has declared the month of September
“National Cannoli Month.” By decree of Chef Jasper, master cannoli maker, dessert lovers in Kansas City
will be able to enjoy a massive show of cannoli power during September.
To commemorate National Cannoli Month, Chef Jasper has enlisted the expertise of famous Kansas City
jeweler, Tom Tivol, and award-winning Sprinkled with Sugar owner, Carey Iennaccaro, to create the World’s Most Expensive Cannoli. Tivol discovered a 20th Century Italian Diamond Necklace, valued at $26,000, which he is pairing with the cannoli created by Iennaccaro. This special star-power cannoli features edible gold and is paired with a bottle of Louis Roederer 1999 Cristal Champagne, making it the World’s Most Expensive Cannoli.
The cannoli can be ordered, with 24 hours notice, through December 2011. A replica gold leaf Cannoli is on display in the lobby of Jasper’s Ristorante. For those who don’t want to spend $26,453.25 but still want to enjoy a Golden Cannoli, Jasper’s is selling a 24k gold cannoli-dusted with real gold-for only $12.
“I’m obsessed with finding the perfect cannoli,” says Chef Jasper. “I even invented a Cannoli Therapy Patch for people who need a cannoli fix. I dressed up last year as a cannoli for Halloween. The last story in my most recent cookbook is On the Cannoli Trail’ that recounts my search for the greatest cannoli in Sicily. Two years ago I traveled to 15 cities in Sicily searching for the greatest cannoli ever. I finally found it, but you have to read my cookbook, The Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook, to discover where!”
Chef Jasper claims the cannoli originated in Palermo and its surrounding areas. The dessert, which is a sweet shell filled with a ricotta cheese mixture, was originally made for Carnival, a festival occurring before Lent. The cannoli takes its name from its long tubular shape and dates back to the time when the Arabs occupied Sicily during the 9th century.
Jasper’s offers melt-in-your-mouth cannolis that satisfy any craving. The local, award-winning institution has served cannolis for nearly 58 years and uses an old Sicilian recipe passed down from Jasper’s greatgrandmother in Gibellina, Sicily. The shells are crisp and flaky and are filled with fresh ricotta cheese, chocolate bits, candied orange and lemon peel, along with a hint of cinnamon. Jasper’s cannoli recipe can be found in The Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook published by Andrews McMeel.
Join Chef Jasper “On the Cannoli Trail” in Kansas City at Jasper’s Ristorante and around town, as he appears at festivals and farmers’ markets around the Kansas City metropolitan area in his custom Cannoli Mobile. He’ll also make live appearances in the Cannoli Mobile from Hen House Markets on his weekly radio show, LIVE! From Jasper’s Kitchen/KCMO Talk Radio 710. Jasper’s Ristorante will offer daily specials and dozens of specialty cannoli flavors and unique cannoli creations to celebrate “National Cannoli Month.”

For more information contact:
Chef Jasper Mirabile, (816) 941-6600

#SSFoodFight is On!!

Hey everyone, just a quick note to tell you that from 1-2 Eastern tomorrow I will be doing a Twitter panel on everyone’s favorite topic–healthy eating!!! Just look for the Twitter hashtag #SSFoodFight!!!!

Okay, maybe healthy eating is not everyone’s favorite topic BUT it is important, especially as kids are going back to school, lives are getting school-year-hectic (instead of summer-hectic), and it’s getting a lot harder to find time to eat healthy. That’s where Aetna Healthy Food Fight, the subject of tomorrow’s panel, comes in.

Aetna’s is two things. First, it’s a great source of recipes, videos, cooking tips, and glimpses of food personality Bobby Flay, who still won’t take me on in a Throwdown. Okay, in all seriousness, it’s a great website with lots of healthy food tips.

However, it’s even more than that!

Healthy Food Fight Recipe Contest

Aetna wants to make their site gets even better…with your recipes! All you have to do is enter a recipe at: in one of four regions. (Hello Dallas, here I come!!)

If your recipe makes the grade (for nutritional standards…sadly fried butter with mayo won’t cut it), you will be entered in the Healthy Food Fight semi-finals. Then it goes to the vote. The top three vote getters in each region will compete head-to-head in their region’s city for the chance to move to the finals.

Each Finalist will be flown by American Airlines to cook for Chef Flay (if it’s not me, whoever gets to the finals, slip Bobby Flay my Next Food Network Star video!) for the chance to win $10,000 in groceries from!

To summarize: eat healthy. Eat well. Post a recipe. Win $10,000!

Why not, right?

So, if you’re interested, post your recipe. If you want to know more or if you just want to say hi, I’ll see you at the #SSFoodFight Twitter Party! Nothing is required, just point your Internet browser to Twitter and look for the #SSFoodFight hashtag!

Oh, and if you are wondering what SS means, it stands for, who is putting on the Twitter party to get people aware of the contest.

See you then! Enjoy!

(Oh, and per FTC rules, I should let you know I’m being compensated to be on the panel.)

calzoneCreamed Spinach and Beef Calzones

Before I get started, I want to give you a preview of what’s coming up.  In about a month I’ll be driving around Southeastern Kansas with terrific chefs from Missouri and Kansas.  It’s all part of a Chef’s Tour to increase knowledge of beef production in the Heartland.  (And, of course, to make things nice and strange, I’m being sponosored as a visiting chef by the Missouri Beef Council even though I’m in Kansas.  Fun, huh?)

Anyway, the two day event includes a Pasture to Plate Culinary Challenge, where I’ll work with beef producers to prepare an unforgettable beef meal.  I plan to own said competition and so I’ve been thinking a lot of beef cooking and will be writing about it a ton.  The good news is that in most culinary challenges, there’s only about an hour or so to cook.  That really narrows down the range of meats to the steaks, which cook quick.

I can do steak cookery.  But what I want to do is blow the judges and competitors away with my sides and how I turn simple steak into something delicious.  That’s where this dish came from.

Continue Reading

chaiStash Chai Spice Black Tea: Sweet, Spicy, and Very Dark

Chai is one of those things I always thought I would drink like there’s no tomorrow.  I really like Indian food.  I really like cinnamon and cardamom.  I am even learning to get along with ginger.

Chai on the other hand…yeah, not so much.  For some reason, I just couldn’t get behind it unti recently and I think I know why.  Dairy…thou art the enemy.

Seriously.  I have never taken cream in my coffee.  I drink Thai iced teas without the evaporated milk.  Still, every chai I have ever drank has tasted (and sometimes had a mouth feel) of pure heavy cream.  Not good.

Still, this discovery (and a few bags of Masala tea) have sparked an interest in different chai blends I can make myself and skip the cream entirely.  Blends like this Stash Chai Spice Black Tea. Then if you really love coffee have a look at the Making Good Coffee blog as they have some awesome content on there.

Stash Chai Spice Black Tea’s Ingredients

According to the website, Stash Chai Spice Black Tea blends “rich, flavorful Indian black teas and cinnamon, clove, ginger and cardamom.”  While those ingredients blend into a fine tasting tea, it’s also nice to know Stash is committed to healthy, 100% natural teas and that they position themselves as a healthy tea line.  As I review more Stash teas (as there are several I am interested in), we’ll see how they deliver on the healthy promise.

Stash Chai Spice Black Tea’s Aroma

About like how you would expect a blend of black tea, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and cardamom to smell… a little like a rich, spicy dessert!  However, given the strength of those ingredients, the smell isn’t as strong as you might expect.  Therefore, it’s pleasant, but not overpowering.

Stash Chai Spice Black Tea’s Taste

It pains me to say it, but Stash did not convert me into a chai tea fan.  It was good and I’ll finish the box, but at the same time, it didn’t bring on the fandom

Certainly anyone who likes chai should adore Stash Chai Spice Black Tea mix.  It has all the hallmarks of chai flavor including the sharp ginger and clove finish that is heralded by the sweetness of cinnamon and the pungent taste of cardamom.  I’ve had chai in Indian restaruants that tasted very similar to Stash Chai Spice Black Tea, it just wasn’t for me.

Stash Chai Spice Black Tea’s Effects

I got a little caffeine buzz going.  Other than that…sadly… nothing.

Stash Chai Spice Black Tea Overall

Stash Chai Spice Black Tea is not a repeat purchaser for me, but that certainly doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be for you.  I just am not sure I can become a chai fan.

Still, Stash treated its tea with respect and used ingredients I think I can be proud of, so I will definitely be drinking more of it.

However, this tea still rated 2 cups out of five.

Thanks to doegox.


pomegraneteBigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante: Drink Your Pomegrante

I had my first pomegrante years ago.  It was a pain in the [bleep] to open, it got juice everywhere, and it was sour.  I decided that I would be more than happy to never have one again.

Fast forward about 15 years and suddenly, pomegrantes are super fruits and they are everywhere.  Of course, they’re still a pain to open and they still lead to staining, but they are less sour or my tastes have changed.  Either way, I am actually looking for some ways to get more pomegrantes into my diet again because I like the taste.  (And I hear they do lots of good stuff inside me.)

One way is this tea.

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Ingredients

Yeah, I don’t know what to think.  According to Bigelow’s package, the tea is flavored with “natural pomegrante flavors with other natural flavors (soy lectithin).”  Hrmm…

So what does that mean?  Well, I find it telling in the description that there’s no talk of pomegrante’s antioxidants in its health benefits.  Just the flavor of the tea.  Then again, I’m not entirely sure how else you flavor something with pomegrantes naturally except with pomegrante.  So, I’m guessing pomegrante is in there.

So, ultimately, I’m not standing up and cheering about what I am drinking like I do when I drink Yogi tea.  On the other hand, I’m not really worried like I am when the tea has like 10 ingredients and the list is written in kanji…

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Aroma

Very nice.  Very, very nice in fact.  I really like the sweet smell of pomegrante that wafts up from the tea, even after it has cooled down.  The smell is almost as refreshing as the flavor.

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Taste

If you like pomegrante, you will like Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante.  And if you don’t like pomegrante, you might still like the taste of Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante.

I like the tea because it is sweet.  Not sugary, but the green tea is mild and the “natural pomegrante  (and other) flavors” really give this tea just enough oomph to wake up the sweet taste buds in my mouth and let me enjoy this tea on a couple of levels.

Really, the folks at Bigelow did a good thing by mixing pomegrante with green tea.  The green tea is mild enough that the pomegrante flavor is the star, however, it wasn’t like drinking pomegrante juice because the green tea had just the enough impact so that you knew it was there.

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante’s Effects

I am told that green tea is full of antioxidants.  I am sure this is true.  It’s hard for me to tell.
Still, there wasn’t a clear effect other than the 25-50 mg of caffeine.  Which was nice, don’t get me wrong!

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante Overall

Bigelow Green Tea with Pomegrante is good tea.  I enjoy drinking it even though I wish it was a little more Organically-minded like some of the other teas I have reviewed.  Plus, I wish I knew why the lecithin was there. 

Oh well, 3.5 cups out of five.

Thanks youngthousands to for the pic.