Monthly Archives: March 2012

The King of Kansas City Italian and the First Lady of the United States

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.)

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Red Gold Tomatoes and Contest Winning Chili

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.

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