Post # 198 Melissa D’

December 6, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve written about various chefs in this blog in the past.  Remember The Two Fat Ladies?  Well, today I’m writing about a FoodNetwork Star winner from a few seasons ago, Melissa D’ Arabian.  I’ve always thought of her as Melissa D so that’s how I’ll refer to her.

First, here’s what she looks like:


She’s always looked like that, with different hair styles.  She’s married for several years and has several children.  When she was on Food Network Star, her style and her show was about cooking for her family on a budget and as nutritious as possible while not being boring.  She was up against several chef/owners, sous chefs, classically trained chefs, as a home cook who’d never had any formal training.  At that time, she was the first on the Food Network to embrace that.  No formal training was unheard of on food competition.  That’s changed, of course, and just recently on Chopped, there was a woman who said her alma mater was the Food Network, her graduation was appearing on Chopped, and her diploma would be the $10,000 check if she won.  She won, and I expect we’ll see more of her because of her great personality.

Melissa D won her season against all the classically trained chefs in large part because of her personality, too.  Melissa D is a mom; she’s approachable; she’s bright and witty; and she’s beautiful with looks that come across on camera like the lens has been airbrushed.  In addition, her cooking style, and her cooking tips are the kinds of things that most people turn to the television show for.  They gave her a show called $10 Meals that lasted several seasons.  She also wrote a hot selling cookbook by the same name.  The show’s been cancelled, but I expect there will be others coming soon.

Some of her tips were so easy and straightforward that I used them just as they were without any refinement on my part.  For instance, here’s her Four-Step Process for any sauce.

  1. Fry any protein of your choice in a pan with one tablespoon of oil and any seasonings you like.  Fry completely and don’t worry if brown bits form on the pan.  Remove protein from pan.  (I used chicken the first time, but it works for anything.)
  2. Deglaze the pan with any flavorful liquid of your choice, such as wine, stock, milk, water.  Use a wooden spatula to loosen the brown bits, also called fond.  These are concentrated bits of flavor and not to be ignored.
  3. Simmer the liquid until it’s reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Keep stirring to avoid burning.
  4. Turn off the heat and add one or two tablespoons of butter.  Stir the butter into the sauce to give it a silky look and another depth of flavor.

The sauce can then be spooned over the protein and served with rice, potatoes, etc.

I’ve done this so many times, it’s now one of my go-to techniques and I can do it in my sleep.

One of our favorite Melissa D recipes is Sirloin Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.  So easy.  Take a bunch of fresh cilantro leaves, a bunch of fresh parsley leaves, juice from one lemon, one small onion finely chopped, a tsp of white wine vinegar, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and one clove of garlic and process it in a blender or a food processor until coarsely ground.  Slowly add 1/3 cup of olive oil until sauce is smooth.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Cook steaks in whatever way you like and serve hot with Chimichurri sauce poured over top.  Totally YUM!

The final recipe I’m going to share is Lemon Fettuccine, which we had with dinner last night.  I served it as a side dish, but with a little tweaking, it could easily be a main dish.  Again, since Melissa is a working mom with a household to run, the recipe is so easy it’s almost laughable.  Melissa used angel hair pasta, but I never have luck with that so I used fettuccine.

Boil the correct amount of pasta for the number of people being served.  While the pasta is boiling, heat one tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.  When the butter is completely melted and foaming has subsided (that foaming is water in the butter evaporating), add the juice of one lemon that has been strained so there is no pulp or seeds.  Keep the mixture on VERY low heat to stay warm until pasta is ready.  When pasta is ready, turn off heat to the lemon sauce.  Drain the pasta, reserving a quarter cup of pasta water, then put pasta in the skillet.  Toss the pasta so it is thoroughly coated with lemon sauce.  Add a little pasta water if needed to make the sauce stick better.  Move the pasta to a warm serving dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, zest of one lemon, and parsley flakes.  Serve immediately.

lemon fettuccine

I served this last night as part of a big meal.  I made chicken breast baked with bacon bits, corn in butter sauce, steamed brussels sprouts, and poached white fish with a butter dill sauce.  There was also homemade bread for anyone who wanted it, but no one did.

So Melissa D comes through with the tasty, inexpensive, impressive, and EASY dishes that can be counted on.  Hope you enjoy the recipes.  Let me know if you try any of them.

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