#132 Title:

Ask-a-Chef: Melissa d'Arabian

Special Guest: Melissa d'Arabian, The Next Food Network Star Finalist

Description: Melissa d'Arabian, finalist on The Next Food Network Star, keeps it non-super mom REAL with us and adds a whole lot of positive energy to the show, as she shares practical tips for frugal shopping, cooking time-savers, and tricks for dealing with kid interruptions in the kitchen.

Duration: 55:50

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Click here to see other episodes in
the Ask-a-Chef Series.

Listen to our other interview with Melissa:
Ten Dollar Dinners.

00:26 Food Network Star: Melissa d'Arabian
01:39 Non-Super Moms
03:09 About the Reality Show
10:28 Create a "Victory File"
17:12 Home Cooking for ALL
22:03 About Melissa d'Arabian
22:41 Listener: Dealing with Kid Interruptions
28:00 Give it Kid Appeal
31:28 Cooking on a Budget
39:48 Favorite Quick Meals
50:30 Closing Comments
53:24 Closing Track: Backseat Goodbye

Special Guest

Music Spotlight:
rss Music: Backseat Goodbye
rss Tracks: Technicolor Eyes
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About Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d’Arabian, 40, of Keller, Texas is a home cook who pairs her varied culinary and life experiences to provide food lifestyle solutions and approachable recipes for today’s families. As a stay-at-home mom to four young daughters, she efficiently budgets time and money to prepare the finest in fresh, home-cooked meals every day. Melissa finds culinary inspiration in family, friends, cooking classes, and world travels. She is married to Philippe, whom she met working for Disney in Paris. She has four daughters: Valentine (4), Charlotte (3), and Margaux and Oceane (1½-year-old twins). She was born in Anaheim, California, and moved throughout her childhood to Tucson, Arizona; San Diego, California; and Bethesda, Maryland.

She moved to Keller, Texas in June 2006 with her family. Melissa held a variety of interesting jobs throughout her life including: serving as private chef for a family of seven, singing on Mediterranean cruise ships, working for Disney in Burbank and Paris, business and strategy consulting, and waitressing. She stopped the majority of her work in summer 2007 when she was put on bed rest with the twin pregnancy. She continues to be an active member of the Economic Development Board in Keller. She also participates in various volunteer activities including Greater Keller Women’s Club and Rocky Top Ranch.
Melissa has been passionate about cooking from a very young age and understands that today’s families have diverse backgrounds and needs. These families don’t just need recipes, but they need food lifestyle solutions, and Melissa’s experience provides her the opportunity to share great ideas and recipes for any kind of family. She strives to create the right meals for all members of her family and for all phases of life with a family (from pregnancy to baby/toddler foods to impressing the in-laws to serving a huge family feast). Melissa believes that more than ever, we are seeing thriftiness in moms who may not need to be thrifty, but actually desire to be and enjoy being budget conscious and business-savvy. She makes delicious, family-friendly food on a budget.

Read more about Melissa here. Find out her favorite foods, the weirdest thing she's ever eaten, her favorite Food Network Chef, her favorite television shows and more.

Apple Tartlets

Recipe Courtesy of Melissa d’Arabian

3 - 4 Medium Granny Smith Apples (or other firm apples)
2 - 3 T Sugar for Sprinkling
1 - 2 tsp Cinnamon for Sprinkling
2 - 3 T Butter for Dotting
2 T Water
1 Egg Yolk
Dough for Crust (Recipe to Follow)
Caramel Sauce (Recipe to Follow)

Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Once the dough is done resting, roll out in between 2 sheets of wax paper until the dough is between 1/8 and ¼ inch thick. Using a large (3 - 4  inch) biscuit cutter, cut out 8 - 10 mini tartlet crusts and place on buttered baking sheets.

Place the apples on the crust decoratively, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and dot each tartlet with a small cube of butter. Mix egg yolk with water in a small bowl and brush the sides of the crust using pastry brush.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes until golden brown. Drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with salt.

Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8-10 Servings
Ease of Prep: Easy

Dough for Crust

1 stick of Unsalted Butter
1 c All Purpose Flour
¼ c Whole Wheat Flour
1 T Sugar
1 tsp Salt
8 T Ice Water

Cut butter into half inch cubes and chill in freezer for 10 - 15 minutes.  Once cold, place butter in a food processor, add flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse quickly on and off until mixture resembles coarse sand. Then add water and pulse quickly until the mixture starts to clump and the texture is like peas, but not yet sticky.  Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, being very careful not to put too much in or to make the dough sticky.

Once the dough as pea-sized clumps immediately pour the mixture into a large, plastic, zip-top bag (or a large piece of plastic wrap).  Very gently use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to one day.

Caramel Sauce

¾ c of Sugar
¼ c of Water
½ c of Half and Half
½ Vanilla Bean, Scraped

Place sugar, water, vanilla bean in medium sauce pan and stir to mix over high heat.   Let the mixture melt without stirring, once the mixture bubbles and starts turning golden brown begin whisking quickly.

Add half and half in a very thin stream, whisking constantly.  As sauce becomes caramel colored and starts to thicken remove from heat and let it cool.

Cooking Resources

V&J's Ask-a-Chef Survey

1. What is your all-time favorite cookbook?
Silver Palate (the original).  My mom gave it to me; it was my first "expensive" cookbook (it's in paperback, but it was the most expensive book I'd owned up to that point).  A postscript: one of the authors of the Silver Palate now owns an inn in Michigan.  My husband took me their on our "babymoon", and I now have a brandnew autographed Silver Palate.  But I still used my yucky old food stained book from my mom.

2. Describe your signature dish.
My signature dish not a fancy one, but it is the only true family recipe my mom left me before she died:  it is a simple marinated flank steak.  She had gotten it from the electric company back in the early 70's (how it was from the electric company.....was a recipe card tucked in the bill?  did she attend a class?... I'll never know).

3. Do you have a favorite cooking website? What is it? 

4. What is one food item that is a staple in your fridge or pantry?
Bacon in my freezer for making little lardons (slices easily when frozen, and a little goes a long way in flavor).

5. What is your favorite cooking tool?
Magic Bullet! I have a blender and food processor, but my magic bullet is in a category of its own... I LOVE it!