Homemade Podcast Episode 22: Alex Guarnaschelli on Simple Meals, Meaty Vegetables, and Favorite Holiday Dishes
Looking back on her childhood, "Chopped" judge and "Supermarket Stakeout" host Alex Guarnaschelli laughs to think that she could have grown up to be something other than a chef. Her mother, a cookbook editor, planned dinners from manuscripts and had a fixation with French cuisine. Her father, a teacher, cataloged what the family of three ate for dinner each night, cookbook page number and all, in logs that resembled exam papers at a glance. In turn, Guarnaschelli has given her 13-year-old daughter what her parents gave her: a love for cooking and a firsthand look at the process.
With Guarnaschelli as our guest, this episode of Homemade covers all this and more. Guarnaschelli and host Martie Duncan talk one-pan dinners, therapeutic baking, and her most unexpected slow-cooker recipe. Plus, she dishes on her new book, Cook With Me, including its chapter on braising and searing vegetables like meat. Download it for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts beginning November 4.
About Alex Guarnaschelli
Out of college, Alex Guarnaschelli worked in a restaurant for Chef Larry Forgione, who encouraged her to learn to cook in France. She heeded his advice and went on to land jobs under recognized chefs like Guy Savoy in France and Daniel Boulud in New York. Later, she served as the executive chef of Butter as well as The Darby in New York. Guarnaschelli has appeared on several TV shows, including "Iron Chef America" and "Guy's Grocery Games." She's known for her roles as a judge on "Chopped" and co-host of "The Kitchen," in addition to host of a new series, "Supermarket Stakeout." She's the author of Cook With Me: 150 Recipes for the Home Cook, The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart, and Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook.
MARTIE DUNCAN Welcome to Homemade. I'm Martie Duncan. Today, my guest is an Iron Chef, but her path could have been quite different.
You probably know her best as the tough but fair judge on Food Network's "Chopped." She's also the host of "Supermarket Stakeout" — that's her new show on Food Network, and you also see her each Saturday on "The Kitchen." She's the author of several cookbooks geared to the home cook, and her latest book, Cook With Me, has just hit the shelves. Y'all, I am just so delighted to have Chef Alex Guarnaschelli on Homemade. Alex, thank you for joining us.
ALEX GUARNASCHELLI Thanks for having me.
MARTIE Hey, I'm tickled that you could find time for us, because I know you're busy with this new book coming out. I use your book The Home Cook quite a lot. It's The Home Cook: Recipes to Know By Heart. And I have really enjoyed that book. So, I was really looking forward to this new one.
Alex, I love the way you have this book lined out. I mean, it makes things so easy. You have one-pan dinners, slow cooker dinners, and you're helping us not only to cook with better ingredients and save time but you're also helping us to utilize our instruments and tools that we have in the kitchen to be more effective. Tell me a little bit about the book, how it came to be, and what you wanted to accomplish with it.
ALEX I sort of put out The Home Cook and said to my editor, "Is it possible to do a little more of the same?" And I know that everybody likes saying how different everything they do is or how they're evolving in the field. But the truth of the matter is, I didn't get everything into my second cookbook and sort of felt like there were a lot of recipes that ended up on the cutting room floor because of length.
You know, my second cookbook was about recipes you want to just know by heart and they're part of your, like, your instinct when you're in the kitchen. And then I just thought, you know, the recipes that are left, they're recipes that I really want you to cook with me.
ALEX Or feel like you're cooking with me. And my editor just kind of said, "I think you just named the book." So, that was kind of cool, the way that fell in my lap. And then I just thought, a lot of these are maybe things that a home cook would like to know but maybe doesn't know, in some sense. There are also a lot of recipes that are really like a familiar feeling. They are things that people have definitely made before or know. And I like that kind of mix of familiar and also aspirational at the same time.
I have a slow cooker chapter. I have a lot of desserts that can kind of go anywhere. They could go into a brunch. They could go after a dinner. They could be something new in the holiday repertoire, which I think people are looking for.
MARTIE You know, I've always been very surprised by the fact that while you're probably best known as a savory chef, savory cook, just like most chefs, you have a giant collection of dessert recipes. Your website's full of them. Your books are full of them. Your Instagram feed — you're always baking. So is that something that's really a part of your heart?
ALEX Yeah. I mean, it's very therapeutic for me, honestly, because I mean, how much more chicken can you roast?
So, I mean, at a certain point, yeah. Baking is definitely my therapy, my zen place. I don't put as much pressure on myself with the baking in a way because, I don't know, maybe it's more for sport and fun than classic savory cooking is.
MARTIE Yeah. Because when you're on the line, under the gun in a kitchen, like you've been in some top kitchens along your career, like with Daniel Boulud, and you've cooked all over France. I can see why perhaps going to something sweet would be a nice chill and relaxing time for you in the kitchen, not feeling so pressured to turn out the perfect plate.
ALEX It's like if a plumber gets do a little a little electrical work.
ALEX If that makes sense.
MARTIE Yeah, of course. Absolutely. I love the chapter in this new book about the new meats. So you've got cauliflower, squash, broccoli, and cabbage in a meat category. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
ALEX Meat is — it's so much a texture, and it's so much about how we feel when we do eat it. I think that we feel satiated. We feel like a heaviness when we chew it. We feel something belly-warming. You know, on the one hand, you have a lot of meat substitutes on the market that mimic meat, but it's actually the heartier vegetables that feel to me like meat.
Like biting into a portobello mushroom and chewing that, feeling that heartiness, that's like something that a meat substitute doesn't give. I think meat, the new meat, runs the gamut from canned jackfruit to a portobello mushroom to a cabbage to a meat substitute. You have a lot of different things that play that part. Anybody who has an elimination diet for any kind of reasons shouldn't feel like they're eating meat without having to actually eat it. And maybe they'll get the meat eaters to look at the ingredients in a new way.
MARTIE So elimination diet, you mean by like eliminating sugar because maybe they have diabetes or some other health condition? Or eliminating gluten or any of those other kinds of things?
ALEX Yes. Or somebody who's a vegetarian for matters of principle. My two best friends are vegetarians, just out of principle, which I respect as well. A lot of people have dietary restrictions for religious reasons. You know, I have a cook in my kitchen who's worked with me for literally 19 years. And his two specialties are pork chops and duck.
ALEX You never know why or how you fall in love with doing one specific thing. But he doesn't eat pork. And he's never eaten a single pork chop. And he's probably cooked more pork than most humans. That always fascinated me. I have another cook who loves to cook shrimp and make lobster bisque, and he's allergic.
MARTIE Oh, wow.
ALEX Yeah. You just don't know people's relationship with food and different ingredients. And just because you can't eat something or you won't or you shouldn't or you, whatever — I sort of like the idea that a new meat would make would be inclusive feeling. If that makes sense.
MARTIE Yes, it absolutely does make sense. I love the fact that you've also in this book included one-pan dinners. I think that's so on-trend. People are looking for something quick. But, like you said, maybe not just the same old roast chicken, although quite delicious. I think everybody's kind of perfected their chicken. Tell me your favorite one-pan dinner. If you're gonna cook a weeknight dinner, what would you go to? What's your favorite?
ALEX The first thing I want to say about a one pan diner is it's not only easy, but let's face it, we are more likely to cook if we're not faced with four sinks full of dishes.
MARTIE True that.
ALEX And so I've kind of been thinking that, too, is just like, how do you get something that's homemade, but you don't end up with an hour of dishes. So that's kind of how I look at the sheet pan dinner. It's like I almost don't even care what's on a sheet pan, as long as it's homemade and I only have dishes for five minutes. That's just like exhilarating to me. That'll keep me from that takeout meal or that quickie fix of some cold cuts or whatever else.
My favorite, honestly, is probably — a pork chop with some Brussel sprouts. I also love roasting chicken thighs, even though we do say to some extent chicken is done to death. Maybe I'm not going to roast on top of the stove because I'm thinking they need oven time. And when I can get the vegetables cooking with them all in one spot — and I don't have the splatter on the stove and it all happens quietly in the oven — that's great for so many reasons.
MARTIE And you can get so much done while you're waiting for it. And like you said, easy cleanup, too.
ALEX I mean, I love like, you open the oven and you say, dinner's ready. I mean, I put that sheet pan right in the middle of the table on it on a couple of trivets. And that's the end of that.
MARTIE Family-style dining. Everybody wants that, gathering around the table to make memories. That takes me to your second book, The Home Cook Recipes to Know By Heart. I'm going to read this dedication so that our listeners can hear it: 'This is for my dad's authentic lemon chicken, Cantonese pork with tofu, and classic Italian tomato sauces mixed with my mom's cheese souffles, oysters Rockefeller, and strawberry trifles. That glorious celebration of culture through food definitely made me become a chef and pen this book."
So that's what this show is all about, Alex. We want to talk about and learn about the backstories behind the recipes, how you got where you are. And I think this dedication kind of nails it. You grew up in a cooking household.
ALEX We either went to the diner and had a hamburger and not a dish was touched or we had dinner at home. There wasn't a big middle ground if you know what I mean.
ALEX My mother did a ton of cooking and over the years so did my father. And they sort of each had their place like, "OK, we're having this and your father's making it.” "OK, we're having this and I'm making it." They sort of divvied up everything in their way, and that was really beautiful. I'm an only child, so I was sort of the sole recipient and experiencer of these two people. And the repertoire of dishes that turned into how I see them or how I remember them. And that's really beautiful.
MARTIE It is so beautiful. Hey, Alex, walk me through your dad's lemon chicken. I'm fascinated with that.
ALEX The secret is obviously a little bit of corn starch because there's nothing like that for breading the exterior of something. And one of the things I love about it is it's really just adjacent to a fried chicken recipe. In that it's sort of like all prep and then all of a sudden, there you are.
So you make the sauce. You get the oil nice and hot. My dad would fry it in a wok, right on top of the stove. He'd make the sauce and it would be sitting there ready. And the idea behind the dish, in an ideal universe, is that you get the chicken ready. You make the sauce. You get the oil ready. You get your platter ready. You get your plate with your kitchen towels to drain the chicken once it's cooked. And then it's really bread, drop in the oil, or I should say dredge, really. Drop in the oil. Fry it, drain it, salt it, slice, sauce, table. A lot of my father's cooking was prep, prep, prep, prep. And then everything's just ready and hanging, and then you just make it and eat it really quickly. He was really into what I call the "a la minute" stuff. You know?
MARTIE OK, yeah.
ALEX Like, hot to the table, just doused in sauce, and boom we eat it kind of vibe. And my mother was maybe more of kind of baking and a whole roasted duck or a very calculated, technique-driven French dish. My father had a hobby of cooking Chinese food my whole childhood, just kind of unusual, obviously. A lot of Szechuan and Cantonese dishes, primarily. That was sort of his where most of his passion lay. I mean, there's so many places to go regionally with Chinese cooking.
My parents were obsessed with language and culture and how that gets shared through certain dishes and ingredients. So he cooked all of these Chinese dinners and he would write out the menu and write who was coming for dinner and write the book and the page number where the recipe was. It was like a catalog of what he did. And I have that whole folder at home, actually.
MARTIE I love that. That's amazing. You have the whole thing? In his handwriting?
ALEX Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And he, you know, like in 1989, I know who came for dinner and what we ate. He even wrote what day of the week it was. And somehow that also just adds something, like, wow. So 30 years ago on a Tuesday, I was eating this at the table with my mom and dad and these are the people that ate it with us. It's really a beautiful thing. And I knew about the folder. It's not fancy. You know, it's not a satin decorated recipe book or anything of the kind. It's just pieces of lined paper in a folder.
My father was a teacher, so it's sort of like you could mistake it for a stack of exam papers he had to grade. You know, it's nothing. You can imagine how much I cherish it now. And his handwriting is really beautiful. It's like how you would imagine Shakespeare would write, if you know what I mean.
MARTIE Oh, I do.
ALEX It looks like he had a big feather quill pen and just was writing this in Sanskrit. You know, like hieroglyphics. It has that kind of beauty to it.
MARTIE It sounds wonderful. I hope everyone listening will start documenting like that and keep that legacy for your family. I would give anything if I had that from my mom. Anything.
Alex, I'm so fascinated with the backstory of how your family cooked, and your mom was a cookbook editor, I think we should say. So I think I read somewhere you said she was always cooking her way through a manuscript. So those two things, between your mom and your dad's passion for cooking, is that how you found your way to a professional cooking career?
ALEX I mean, I do think that it made any other career possibility not a possibility. Do you know what I mean? Like, you don't know when you're growing up what's going to influence you because you're not really at a bigger picture. But, yeah, I mean, looking back, it almost makes me laugh that I think I was ever going to be anything but, you know what I mean?
MARTIE You’re listening to Homemade. When we come back, Alex will tell us about the one piece of advice she got that set her career in motion. We’ll be back right after the break.
I'm Martie Duncan, and today my guest is Iron Chef, TV personality, restauranteur, and cookbook author Alex Guarnaschelli.
So, when you decided that you wanted to become a chef, you went to culinary school. But there was a first step. Worked with Larry Forgione. Is that right?
ALEX Oh, yeah. You've done your homework. Yeah, I worked at a restaurant called An American Place on 32nd Street. I cooked there for a couple years, maybe a year and a half, right out of college. And he just said, you know, "You could stay here for a bunch of years and that'd be good, but you should really go to France and learn how to cook where the world is perfect." I just never forgot he said that. He just said, "The world is perfect in France. Go there." So I applied to a culinary school, like out of a book. I got a book of culinary schools and flipped through it and picked a couple and applied for their work-study programs and got accepted to one.
And I went to France, and I just started — I worked in a cooking school for a year, and then I fell into a few little restauranty kind of jobs. And then I met Guy Savoy, who has a three-star Michelin in Paris. I ended up working for him for almost, I don't know, six or seven years.
And then I came home and I started working for Daniel Boulud on the east side. I spent 10 years of my life cooking French food, which is sort of what my mom always did. My mom would watch Julia Child, write everything down, go to the store, buy the ingredients, and make the dish. You know, like out of a movie?
ALEX I feel like it's a Julie and Julia movie. She would do that.
MARTIE Listen, every single chef, I mean almost without fail, that I've had on this podcast has said something about how Julia Child influenced their cooking or their mom's cooking or how they came to food was from that. Wouldn't she just be blown away to know that she had had that kind of lasting influence on all of us?
ALEX Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
MARTIE And now you're doing that for a whole new generation, Alex. I don't know if you realize that, but I'm sure you do, to some degree. But through your work on Food Network and your teaching and what you've done with your TV shows and your books. You're inspiring a whole new generation. And the fact that you're an Iron Chef helps a lot of young girls see what's possible.
ALEX I mean, thank you. I think that's really the added layer of Julia Child is when she turns around and empowers so many women. Because what she did was so extraordinary and unusual and she was just sort of driven by an idea. And she knew what her idea was and it wasn't going to be any other way. I don't know. I guess I'm driven by an idea in a similar fashion. I'm not saying I'm Julia Child. Don't get me wrong.
MARTIE I know what you're saying.
ALEX Yeah, I definitely knew I wanted to be an Iron Chef. I've always known that I wanted to cook. And I've just sort of never let go of those simple ideas.
MARTIE I think that's the one thing we know about you from watching you on "Chopped" is that you speak very precisely and clearly about what you like and what you don't like. You're strong with your opinion, but you're fair. And you have a mind of your own. You're not influenced by what the other judges say. You say — somebody says something you don't agree with. You speak up about it.
So I want to know a little bit more about another facet of your personal life. I understand from watching Instagram that you've just gotten engaged, as well.
ALEX Oh, yes, I have a wonderful fiance, who's also a chef. And yeah, we've been together for four years. And we just got engaged, which is beautiful.
MARTIE Are you planning a wedding? And what would that look like with COVID and everything that we have now? Would you just jump on a plane and go to Italy or France or something?
ALEX Not planning at all.
MARTIE Not planning yet.
ALEX No, I hate to disappoint with such a boring answer. But, you know, my brand is truth. And unfortunately, because of the times, not yet planning at all. Kind of waiting. My daughter was supposed to have a big birthday bash this year.
ALEX It didn't happen. And I sort of have that on my conscience that I want her to have a big birthday party, hopefully sometime in 2021. And I don't want her to feel like planning for that is coinciding with any other big event. It's just sort of a respect thing. It's like a mob movie, you know, pay homage to the big boss and kiss the ring first kind of thing?
MARTIE Right. Right. Absolutely.
ALEX I kind of want to make next year about that for her. And once she has had her unique moment — I mean, as an only child and since I have an only child, I know how the impact of those special moments can be. And then when I'm through that, I'll start getting samples of lace for the wedding gown, if you know what I mean.
MARTIE Listen, I want to know a little bit more. What do you do on your off day? Like when Alex Guarnaschelli gets an off day from TV or books or cooking, what do you do for fun?
ALEX You know, I read a book that has nothing to do with food. I read a magazine that has nothing to do with food. I take a little breather. I feel like people ask me a lot. How do you stay interested in cooking? How do you keep yourself fresh? And one of the ways is by giving myself a little space to breathe. It's important to me to have a day where I just eat an ice cream cone and I stare at the sky. My daughter's 13, so she hangs out with me sometimes, sort of, you know what I mean? So I take the sometimes, sort of and I make that a priority. Those are my favorite things to do.
I'll be outside. I love flowers. I love trees. They're probably an extension of food and ingredients. Because a lot of flowers and trees are edible. But I love ingredients. I love green markets. I love farmer's markets. And I love nature. I am not someone who's going to take a tent and go on a nature walk for three months somewhere. That's not me. But I do love natural beauty. And I think spending so many years in a professional kitchen kind of locked inside cooking chicken, my instinct is to try and get outdoors a little bit.
MARTIE I can understand that. And then you take inspiration from some of that for cooking as well. There's so much hubbub and so much activity in a kitchen. I'm sure sometimes you need that green space just to decompress.
ALEX Absolutely, and something that's different because, food is our profession, but it's also so connected to survival that it's hard to turn that off and go home. Because you need to cook dinner and think about eating and feeding the people around you, always. So, when people say, "Wow, I don't know how to leave my office at the office." I mean, get in line.
MARTIE Exactly. Especially when you have to come home and cook for a daughter or family member. You can't really turn it off, so to speak. You have to feed the people. Right? I love this quote from you that says, "The food we're exposed to during our childhood has a profound effect on our cooking and eating choices when we become adults." That's really the basis for this show. We'd like to talk about those roots that we put down when we're young and how we translate that to a lifetime of eating and cooking.
With the holidays coming up, what are some of your favorite holiday dishes? Like, what do you have to have? Like, it won't be Christmas without blah-blah at your house. Or it won't be Thanksgiving without blank at my house.
ALEX I think for Thanksgiving, I have to make cranberry sauce the way my mother always made it with cinnamon sticks and the orange zest. My mom makes this mashed potato dish with mashed potatoes and whipped cream mixed together with Parmesan cheese. And then it's baked, kind of like a mashed potato souffle in the oven. And my father's recipe for stuffing, which has pepperoni and mozzarella. So I have some French influences coming in from my mother and some really sort of Italian-American influences coming in from my father. That kind of makes up my Thanksgiving meal.
And then for Christmas, it's really become more about Ava. She loves Gordon Ramsay, the chef. So, instead of taking any of my recipes, she takes his beef Wellington and she makes that. That's kind of a tradition for her. And then we always fish. Some type of seafood, like shrimp. Or she likes eel. Or lobster or squid or octopus. We always have some sort of unusual — we don't get the seven fishes.
ALEX We get to like two fishes.
ALEX And it would it wouldn't be Christmas without those things, for me.
MARTIE All right. So I want to make this mashed potato souffle thing for Christmas or for Thanksgiving.
ALEX It's so good.
MARTIE Walk me through that real quick, if you don't mind.
ALEX So, you make traditional mashed potatoes with the buttercream and milk and boiled potatoes, and then when that's finished and still warm, you fold in unsweetened whipped cream that's whipped, like as if it were going to go on dessert but it doesn't. And grated Parmesan cheese. And then you pour this mixture, which is a little bit liquidy, into a baking dish that's greased. And then you top it with more Parmesan cheese, and you put it in a really hot oven and you bake it. And it kind of puffs up, still liquidy like mashed potatoes. It doesn't become a souffle, per se. But it just has a different texture because it's both mashed and then baked and it gets a little bit sort of fluffy and aerated from the whipped cream. But more importantly, the ultimate hat trick is how so many rich ingredients come together and end up tasting unbelievably light. And I think my mother really loves that about French cooking.
MARTIE I cannot wait to make this. I bet a lot of our listeners are gonna make it as well. So the recipe, we can find it if we search for it online?
ALEX Oh, yes, for sure.
MARTIE OK. Wonderful. All right, so I see a ton of cookies. With cookie season coming up, we're heading into that time right out — you know, after Halloween and before Christmas where people are making cookies like crazy. What are your top one or two must-haves for the holiday season at your house?
ALEX That's tough to pick. There's a recipe in my new cookbook that is like a traditional sesame cookie. And I know that's kind of weird because you're thinking that's not really very holiday. But the thing about the holidays is you have so many things that have a lot of fruit and a lot of sweetness to them. Even at Thanksgiving, you have cranberry sauce, which feels almost like a dessert, then you have all those pies.
And at Christmas, you know, you're going to have those big desserts. But for me, I feel like chocolate and something that's not super sweet, like a sesame cookie, are the things that get overlooked in the holiday menus. And so when you make those your cookies, it's sort of like, oh, this is not like anything I see at this time of year. And then I always make a batch of either chocolate pavement cookies, so to speak, that are just like chocolate with a tiny bit of egg and flour holding them together or a traditional chocolate chip. You would be surprised at Thanksgiving or Christmas when you bust out just good old chocolate chip cookies that are well made, how grateful people are to have something that's like kind of not holiday grace the table with all that holiday dishes. It almost provides this like little refuge or this little variety. It always works.
MARTIE I love the idea of these sesame cookies. I did see that as one of the recipes in your new book. Tell us about those. How did those come to be? Is that something from your Italian roots? Where does that come from?
ALEX It actually doesn't. It's one of those recipes that I picked up working in kitchens. It isn't something at all that comes from my childhood or from my parents. And there are some things that just provide that relief to like, "Oh, God, does every recipe have to be a story about my mom or dad?" And the answer is no. Sometimes there's just something that crosses your path in another way. This is one of those recipes.
MARTIE Well, it looks delicious. And like, a lot of people don't like really sweet things. So when you have that person in your family, this seems like a wonderful recipe to pop out for. Like you said, for the holidays.
ALEX You could dunk them in chocolate or top them with jam or sauteed fruit, and they become something more. And I kind of like the versatility of something that's almost unadorned but delicious. And then you can take it to another level if you want.
MARTIE I think that's really smart. And you give people some flexibility to create their own version.
ALEX Yeah, or just, "Hey, you know what, I do love sugar. So I'm going to actually throw them into a bath of melted white chocolate and we'll see you later." And white chocolate and sesame is so delicious together. And it's unusual. And yet it's not weird. Sesame. White chocolate. These are ingredients and flavors we know. But now my book, Cook With Me, is forcing you to kind of combine them, in a good way. Hopefully.
MARTIE Yes. And do something that maybe you wouldn't have thought of but becomes a new favorite. And that's how all great recipes evolve. Like, "I never thought of that. Let me try it. Oh, gosh. That's wonderful. Now, I'm going to kind of customize it myself to my own taste or my family's tastes." And then that becomes a holiday tradition or a tradition for our home. That's wonderful. So Cook With Me is out now.
MARTIE It's a big book — 150 or so recipes, right?
MARTIE And you go through everything, like I said earlier. I love this new meat that you talk about. But you also have fish, you have steaks, you have the lettuces, and all the vegetables and fruits. You really run the gamut for the home cook to cook alongside of you. Now I see a doughnuts thing that I'm intrigued by. Is that specialty at your house?
ALEX Oh, yeah. I mean, but I make another kind of donut at the restaurant, and that's kind of been one of my signature recipes. But this is a simple donut. You literally don't have to proof them or anything. You mix the yeast to let them kind of sit a few minutes/ And then you just form, roll, and fry the donut. It's kind of like an express recipe. It actually took me a lot of tries to get it right. But I wanted a donut that you could kind of get on the table without waiting for three days.
MARTIE Alex, we were talking a little bit earlier about utilizing squash and cabbage and mushrooms and different things like that as a substitute for meat. I wanted to see if you would walk me through one of those favorite recipes.
ALEX A lot of these recipes in that chapter came about with this in a similar way. Which is, how can I get this really hearty vegetable that takes a long time to cook, especially when you leave it in a big steak form, to get on my table and get so delicious? The cabbage you sear, stovetop, and you braise it largely stovetop. You cut the cabbage down into steaks. Like, two per head of cabbage. And you can also pop them in the oven with a little bit of liquids so that they can roast and become more tender. Because they can't always get that way just being cooked on the stove. But it's almost like you cook it all in one pan. And the combination of stovetop and the oven, and dinner is ready. And you don't have five hours of dishes.
MARTIE And I see you've even got a slow cooker chapter, which a lot of professional restaurant cooks don't want to engage with things like a slow cooker. Can you tell us one of your favorite slow cooker recipes from the cookbook?
ALEX Yes. So actually, in that chapter, I have a recipe for slow cooker brownies. I just thought that I wanted something really unusual in there. And people are like, "Wait a minute. Why would you slow cook a brownie?" But if you're someone who works at home — which a lot of us are now when we weren't before — you can put the brownies in the slow cooker and cook them for a while. And then you kind of forget that you did it, and then you're like, "Ooh, I have this treat". And it's in a really unusual place. I feel like the slow cooker is all — people always write me, "OK, I cook beans and I made a beef stew in my slow cooker, and that's it.”
MARTIE That's right.
ALEX So I wanted to do something kind of whimsical. You don't need the slow cooker to make brownies. But why not, you know, look at a piece of equipment in a new way and in a more fun way. Like ooh, something naughty and recreational can come out of the slow cooker, too. It's not just all about necessity.
MARTIE Alex, what else have you got coming up on the horizon?
ALEX Well, in the next few weeks, I'll be filming season three of my show, "Supermarket Stakeout," which has chefs cooking against each other in a parking lot once they negotiate with some shoppers for groceries. That's Tuesdays on Food Network. I'm also on "The Kitchen" every Saturday morning on Food Network with my co-hosts Geoffrey Zakarian, Sonny Anderson, Katie Lee, and Jeff Mauro. And those are really my two big places, other than the classic "Chopped," which has been on for 12 years, and I feel like it's going to be on for another 12.
MARTIE It's everybody's favorite show. I don't care where I go, people say, "Why don't you go on Chopped?"
ALEX Oh, yeah.
MARTIE I'm like, "I had a 'Chopped' experience on 'Food Network Star' and I'm still not over it." So, I'm not going on "Chopped." I'm a wandering cook anyway. I don't do well with those immediate like, "You must cook this in five minutes" things. But I love your "Supermarket Stakeout" show. That's so much fun. Tell us the premise of the show and what it's all about.
ALEX The premise is that you can win $10,000 if you quote, unquote outcook the three other chefs. And there are three challenges. It's set in a parking lot. And you have to run up to the front of the store, and as shoppers come out, you negotiate with them. You start with $500. And that has to get you through all three rounds, ideally, and you barter with shoppers to buy their groceries. And then you take them out at your cooking station, and you make a dish, based on the theme. And whoever makes the best food at the end of the day wins. Not bad for an afternoon, right? Ten grand?
MARTIE Alex, thank you for being here with us today and sharing so much of your life, your food, your recipes, and your food traditions with us here on Homemade.
ALEX Thank you. Thanks for having me.
MARTIE Alex Guarnaschelli’s new book Cook With Me: 150 Recipes for the Home Cook is out now. I also really love her previous book The Home Cook: Recipes to Know by Heart. It's fantastic. You can find her books, lots of recipes, and more at AlexGuarnaschelli.com. I’m going to spell that for you: Alex, A-L-E-X, Guarnaschelli, G-U-A-R-N-A-S-C-H-E-L-L-I. She’s on Instagram and Twitter at @guarnaschelli and on Facebook at ChefAlexGuarnaschelli.
Next week on the show, we are featuring a social media star who is so fascinating and completely different than anyone else you've heard here on Homemade.
EITAN On Tik Tok, you really have a short amount of time to capture people's attention because the way people use the app, is that they just constantly scroll very quickly. So unless you're making the world's best chocolate chip cookies, bougie grilled cheese, or something that like is different from what you're used to hearing, you need to use something like that to catch their attention.
I'm talking to a teenager whose cooking show on TikTok has 1.3 million followers. Let me tell you, Eitan Bernath knows his stuff. It's going to be a lot of fun and packed with ideas you can try at home. You can maybe even get your kids or grandkids involved!
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This podcast was recorded in Birmingham, edited in Atlanta, and can be found wherever you get your podcasts.
Homemade is produced by Allrecipes with Executive Editor Jason Burnett. Thanks to our Pod People production team: Rachael King, Eliza Lambert, Tanya Ott, and Maya Kroth.
Thanks for listening! I’m Martie Duncan, and this is Homemade.