Cooking With Stephanie Izard!
Ever make fresh ricotta cheese? How about with Stephanie Izard? Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Whole Foods cooking class taught by the Top Chef Season 4 Winner and learned how to make fresh ricotta from scratch and how to incorporate this great cheese into both sweet and savory dishes. A Chicago chef, we cheered her on during her season of Top Chef and have been following every bit of info about her upcoming Chicago restaurant (breaking news about it later in this post).
But most importantly, I got to come home with three great new recipes I wouldn’t have otherwise tried at home and some great new tips from the Top Chef herself.
The first thing she did was teach us how to make ricotta cheese from scratch. I always though cheesemaking was a complex process but this fresh ricotta is simple and easy. If needed, you can substitute lower fat milks for whole but Stephanie insists whole milk makes the curdling process much easier.
Since Stephanie Izard is a huge pork lover, I was nervous the cooking class would involve something I don’t eat but to my surprise, she made a great savory vegetarian Thanksgiving-inspired side dish. The flavors were rich and delicate at the same time. This dish incorporates a lot of great textures and tastes in one great side!
The sweet selection of the course was her delectable apple bread pudding. For one thing, I’ve always been taught to use stale bread in pudding and French toast, etc. but her use of fresh ciabatta bread really made all the difference. I gobbled this sweet stuff right up!
More Tips from Stephanie Izard
- Chiffonade is just a fancy word for cutting into thin strips (Remember our foodie vocab quiz?).
- Never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink.
- Always use unsalted butter so you can control the amount of salt in your cooking.
- Mushrooms absorb a lot of fats when cooking.
- Always incorporate a lot of different tastes and textures into your food to make it more interesting.
- Toast your nuts to bring out their natural flavors
All in all, she was incredibly down to Earth, helpful and friendly. She was willing to share all sorts of information about Top Chef, her life, her upcoming restaurant or anything we asked her. For instance:
She has a favorite knife which she carries with her wherever she goes and has to check on airplanes. She often frequents Avec restaurant in the city as its one of her favorites. Her last name Izard means goat in French which is why she calls herself “The Wandering Goat”. She revealed that the “Stew Room” on Top Chef is actually a set and not a real storage room.
Her restaurant to open in March will be located on Randolph St. She was planning on naming it “The Drunken Goat” but the name has already been trademarked by a cheese company so she will be coming up with a new name in the coming weeks.
Thank you for the wonderful cooking class Stephanie!