The Fantastic World of Ted Allen: From Queer Eye to Chopped | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Episode 338
December 24, 2021

The Fantastic World of Ted Allen: From Queer Eye to Chopped

The Fantastic World of Ted Allen: From Queer Eye to Chopped

We chat with Ted Allen about the soaring success of Queer Eye and Chopped, his life behind the scenes and embarrassing encounters with Martha Stewart. Plus, we explore the new German cooking with Meike Peters; Adam Gopnik discusses the role of turkey in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”; and we whip up an apple cake. (Originally aired on December 20, 2019.)

Questions in this episode:

"My husband and I host family for Christmas Eve dinner every year and we always serve white Bolognese. This year we are near doubling the guest count from previous years and we are expecting 20 people. What’s the best way to execute this?"

"What do I do with a winter melon? We were given one and have no idea how to use it."

"I am trying to make a challah bread that will form strands of bread when pulled apart as opposed to a bread that has a fine cake-like crumb. All the recipes I've tried result in a fine textured bread, but not the long strands that I remember from the challah we bought from the bakery when I was a child. Any ideas on what I should do?"

"Last year, I bought a copy of Luisa Weiss' Classic German Baking. She doesn't have a recipe for Christmas Stollen because, as she explains in her book, she tried numerous recipes for traditional Stollen and just couldn't get it right—primarily because of the amount of butter required for the bread, making it difficult to get a good rise. I'd love to try making it for myself instead of buying it prepackaged from the import store but is it really that impossible?"

Ted Dave Jackson Highres

Christopher Kimball: This is Milk Street Radio radio from PRX. I'm your host Christopher Kimball. Today we're chatting with Ted Allen who is the founding host of chalk, which premiered in 2009. The formula is television gold star studded judges near impossible time constraints and bizarre ingredient combinations.

Ted Allen: Actually, the funny thing is that if we do give someone an easy basket with skirt steak and a potato and some French butter, that's when they mess up. I don't know what it is. Chefs apparently need to be challenged with Doritos and Diet Pepsi in order to produce well on our show.

CPK:Also, coming up, we share our recipe for German apple cake. And later Adam Gopnik discusses the role of Turkey in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. But first, it's my interview with Michael Peters who splits her time between Berlin and Malta. Her new book is 365 a year of everyday cooking and baking Miko, welcome to Main Street.
Also, coming up, we share our recipe for German apple cake. And later Adam Gopnik discusses the role of Turkey in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. But first, it's my interview with Michael Peters who splits her time between Berlin and Malta. Her new book is 365 a year of everyday cooking and baking Miko, welcome to Main Street.

MP: Hello, and thank you for having me on your show.

CPK: Let's talk about you. A German background although you spend a lot of time in Malta and Berlin these days. So you talk in your book about German comfort foods being sort of one of the culinary themes in your life. So what are German comfort foods?

MP: German comfort food is very much the food that I learned a lot from my mother and my grandmother it's very frugal cooking, it's cooking with not many ingredients. There are a lot of carbs obviously it's German food it's all there's often meat involved but what I love about it is that it's it's a kind of food that you can easily cook during the week when even when you when you had a busy day and it's just food that makes you feel very very good.

CPK So let's go through some of the the recipes in your book coriander cumin meatloaf with dates in orange now that's taking classic and really messing with it right made a major I mean you're definitely messing

MP: with my mother rolled her eyes when when I told her about it because the recipe is actually based on Herman sloth which I grew up with I love from in Slav is I love it warm fresh, I love it cold but yeah, I moved away from her more classic approach and just felt a bit more playful and then definitely meant more that I came in and this that I feel like Hey, I just add some dates I add more spices. But I always try to find a balance as much as I love to be brave with it or always try not to go overboard with the amount of ingredients that I add because otherwise if you if you use every ingredient in a very bold way it's just it's to

CPK 02:48
mess spaghetti with ricotta orange and crispy sage another mashup

MP: Yeah, this is ricotta is very, very popular in Malta you find record and everything you will have it in pies, you will have it in pasta, and I started playing around and I love the combination of orange zest and fried sage. I think that's really really nice. And then just spaghetti and ricotta and that's a super quick dinner during the week. If you're lucky, you just have the ingredients at home.

CPK: Okay, so let me give you some basic ingredients people have around. So if I said okay, long grade rice or basmati rice, how would you start thinking about doing something to that on a weekday that it's a little more interesting.

MP: That is so mean because you chose the only ingredient that I'm really not too fond of and that's rice.

CPK : Well then that then you have to dress it up and add stuff to it. Right

MP: exactly. I think grises lots of people will hate me for this but I think rice tastes quite plain and I think it just becomes it needs fat either needs oil or butter. And then I would either add a lot of herbs if you can just chop up your leftover herb or you just get played for with spices. They're just spices that already give you this warming feeling like cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, just mix them together. Rice can really take quite a bit of other flavors.

CPK :Chicken if you have boneless skinless chicken breast which is pretty tasteless thoughts about that? What you would do with it.

MP: So what I like to do is when I when I have when I feel like cooking chicken, I just see what's in the pantry do I have I have a lot of different beans and I would just throw some canned beans on the on a large baking tree and see what do I have in the vegetable drawer. I think I would get a bit playful, maybe some tomatoes, maybe even zucchini and then I would add lemon zest orange test would work as well but to add something that is that has a bit of a punch. What I also like with chicken is fruit but apricots to one second recipe. Grapes are also great, whatever fruit you have at home.

CPK So if I'm going to create an overarching theme to your cooking, you you make sweet and savory,

MP you request fruits are not just sweet, they're also sour, right. And then the soreness actually works very, very well with, with meat or with other vegetables. Yeah, like I said, I mean beans, for example, beans and bacon, notice that something we've had a million times. And then it's just nice to say, Okay, let's cut some pear or Apple wedges and see them on really high temperature, I love to cook vegetables very, very briefly on very, very high temperature because it just kind of the flavor becomes a bit more concentrated then. And to add that to, to green beans, for example, it just brings in something you some something that is a bit more exciting than what we're used to. And I also find that the acidity of it makes it a bit lighter and more refreshing.

CPK If you and I were having a glass of wine at a bar or something, and we had just a few minutes, are there a couple of things you would tell me that you've learned in your 10,000 hours that have really been transformative to you?

MP I think I think the most important thing is to to experience the pure flavor of ingredients of a good zucchini, and then are good eggplant, a good tomato, nice potato, and to really take the time to focus on this flavor. And then that's why I say recipes Cookbook, that's all fine. But what is far more exciting was what is what happens inside us. And then I would just tell you see, think of the zucchini and just wait something will come to your mind you will think of something it might be sage, it might be time, it might be a spice. And it's I find this process so exciting. And when other people tell me about it when they start to add other ingredients to my recipes. And yeah, this is something that I I'd love to inspire people to do that more to, to use cookbooks or the internet, whatever as a guideline or inspiration.

CPK You started your food blog in in my kitchen in 2013. And now you're doing meat in your kitchen, where you visit people in their kitchens. Give me one or two examples of going to someone's kitchen and learning something that was really surprising to you.

MP I think it's always very satisfying because it's very intimate. When you go to someone's kitchen, you really you learn a lot about the person and you see a lot about this person's home. Because the kitchen is a space where we don't, we don't represent we don't try to be something that we're not and I love going to the kitchens of home cooks actually or are immortal. I went through a food to a few mamas and grannies who've been cooking all their life and who learned the recipes that they cook from the generations before them. And it's not these are not fancy places. These cooks don't cook with expensive ingredients. And there are still people who cook every day. And I love going to Yeah, to these kitchens of the I call them the mamas because you really learn a lot about the culture of a country for example. That's how I learned the most about mortar through these kitchens. And it's a very, very honest place.

CPK Michael thank you so much for being on Oak Street. It's been a real pleasure.

MP Thank you. It was really a lot of fun

CPK
that was Michael Peters. His new book is called 365 a year of everyday cooking and baking. Right now my co host Sara Moulton. I will answer a few of your cooking questions. Sarah is of course the author of home cooking 101 also star of Sara's weeknight meals on public television.

SM
So Chris, before we take the calls, I have a burning question for you about the upcoming holidays. Is there a really quick and easy hors d'oeuvre that you must have or that you throw together?

CPK
I don't believe in our d'oeuvres. Philosophically. I want people when they get to the table, so starving, and hopefully a little tipsy

SM
that they just you can't serve them alcohol without food. Absolutely. Oh, that is Oh,

CPK
absolutely. Now I know the French believe in little nibbles. And that's aperitifs. But no, I gave an old fashioned no food. And then when you get to the table you really enjoy like if you give people a plate of stuff, right? Yeah, they're gonna eat too much and they're just not going to appreciate their meal. Now, the one thing that I do believe in is true. frightful for dessert for the holidays like for Christmas? Yeah, I mean trifle is my go to big thing serves 12 People I used to find cake is the cake. Great. Pastry Cream is just absolutely terrific. Sometimes they put cocoa in it as well. Oh, no fruit, please. Now, I don't like trifle. It also the next day it looks terrible. Yeah. But trifle and no orders. That's my secret to holiday success. All right. Now on to the first call. Welcome to milk street who's calling?

Caller: This is Lisa Komorowski.

CPK
Hey, where are you calling from?

I'm calling from Huntington, West Michigan.

CPK
Okay, and how can we help you?


Well, I am having family over for Christmas a little bit before Christmas. We usually do it on Christmas Eve but we moved to a larger home this year and because we can sit more people were having it earlier to try to be have more people over. So I always do pasta and I don't want to change the tradition. But I'm a little bit nervous about doing pastor for 20 people. And so I had some questions about the best, most efficient ways to do this physically.

CPK
What kind of pasta is this? Like a lasagna? These are noodles. What is it?


It's actually a white bolognese sauce recipe with a do rigatoni. I was going to pre cook the noodles and the sauce day before take them out a little bit extra identity and then heating up the sauce. It wasn't sure if that was better to do in oven or a crock pot.

CPK
My first thought is you should under as you said under cook the pasta by two or three minutes. And then when you are ready to serve or getting ready to serve. I would heat the sauce up with the pasta. And so the pasta starts you know, I was actually just in Bologna. So they undercooked their pasta. They ladle some sauce in a skillet with a pasta. They flip it they mix it together and the sauce is absorbed into the pasta. What kind of serving dish do you have like a chafing dish? Slow Cooker? Well, yes,


I have a few shades and dishes actually

CPK
I would use those because they're fairly low heat. You could heat up the sauce separately and once it gets hot, then you could add it to the pasta, the undercooked pasta and that way slowly in a chafing dish over time it's going to come up as long as the pasta gets fully cooked by the time you serve it but but keep it at a low temperature. I think it'd be okay right Sarah?

SM
I'm sort of agreeing but I also have another idea. What if you made sure the sauce was somewhat thick and layered it with no boil lasagna noodles?

Not a big fan of lasagna? I'm kind of over it lately. I'll go back to it someday I could for you. It doesn't do it for me lately.

CPK
The problem with any solution is once the pasta is properly cooked, whether it's no boil noodles or undercooked regular rigatoni, when it is cooked, it's ready to eat. So I would do it in two or three batches. Have the pasta ready to go refresh it, you know in water and then mix it with sauce. refresh it and water. Well no, if you're not letting the pasta sit in water for an hour, now you can't so

SM
you're gonna lose all the starch.

I thought it was safe to start a day before because this pasta journey does take if you need some starch water to to finish it. So

CPK
we're gonna have two teams. We're gonna have the rigatoni team in the lasagna team.

SM
No, no, I lost. You know, I lost listen. You always listen to the person at the other end of the line. She doesn't want lasagna. Lasagna? I think we've got a great plan. Thank you. Okay, thanks for calling.

CPK
Okay, bye bye. Welcome to milk street who's calling?


This is an from Indianapolis. How are you? Fine, little cold today?

CPK
It is that time of year? Yes. I'm not looking forward to this. Well, I'm looking forward to it. At least the part where I'm inside cooking. So how can we help you? Right?


I have acquired a winter melon. And I'm a little unsure as to exactly what to do with it.

CPK
When you say acquired this was a stranger drop that at your door. You were willed it?


Almost my parents have a Chinese acquaintance. And they have swapped homegrown produce over the years. And normally it's been tomatoes for long beans, right? But this time, there was a winter melon thrown in. And there's a bit of a language barrier so they couldn't ask her exactly what to do with it.

CPK
I know what it is. It's not sweet. It's savory. It can be pickled. I don't think it has a very strong flavor, but it's not sweet, right? No. Have you ever cooked with

SM
it? No, but I've had it in restaurants. It's pretty bland actually picks up whatever you cook it with. How big is it?


It's about the size of a small watermelon. It's large but I gather the center is filled with a lot of seeds and everything so there's not a huge amount of


meat to it.

CPK
You know what I would do? I would cut the top off got the inside paint put a face on it like a jacket lender put a candle in it light it and put it on your front porch. Oh no. That Well come on. I mean, that would be cool a winter melon Jack O' Lantern into a Santa hat. There's no okay, perfect. I don't think this is going to be an easy one but well no,

SM
I think you'd feel it you get the seeds out and you just work with the flash and essentially you cook it like you would other vegetables you braise it or you steam it and then you add you know flavorful ingredients to it. So it will absorb them is the idea.


It would be good in something like a stir fry.

SM
Yes.

CPK
And put a ton of flavor in the wok while you're at it. It's like tofu I guess. Right? Vegetable it's me. No, but I mean, it's bland. It's bland so you want nice saucy stuff. So take a tofu recipe with a great sauce and use winter melt good


I kind of my impression of it. I was gonna say it was the tofu the vegetable world

SM
Exactly. Or like that black bean garlic from said paste. That's probably yummy with it. Oh, that would be good. Yeah, not that I've ever cooked it either. Way. I'm just imagining from dishes I've had and I'm still all in with a Christmas jacket. Okay, or curry. Maybe a curry would be nice. Well, that has strong flavors. Yeah, yeah. The one thing I do know is you only use the flesh, you know, not the seeds with the skin. And it's bland. So just dress it up. Alright, and I hope you have some success with that. You got to let us know because clearly we're clueless here.

CPK
We're not for sale. We're just guessing. All right. All right. Thanks for calling.

SM
Okay, thank you for taking my call. Yeah, sure. Bye. Bye.

CPK
This is mostly radio. Sarah and I are here to answer your questions. Just give us a ring anytime. 85542698431 more time a 554269843 or email us at questions at Gmail street radio.com

SM
Welcome to milk street who's calling? This is Kay Geoffrey Howe. Okay. Where are you calling from?


Macedonia, Texas.

SM
How can we help you today?


I have this cranberry sauce recipe that is my grandmother's. When I started having granddaughters I thought it was time to parcel out the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and had them learn pieces of it. So one learned pumpkin pie one learned pecan pie. And one learned cranberry sauce. Well, the cranberry sauce granddaughter has never had a success. It's a jellied cranberry sauce. And we've never had trouble. And I wondered if the cranberries are different now than they used to be? Or is it something that we're doing? That's making the fast not gel anymore?

SM
Tell me what goes into the sauce and how you do it. Four


cups of berries, two cups of water, two cups of sugar. And that's all

SM
and how do you make it?


Well, we blow the berries in water until they pop. And then we run them through a colander. And then we add sugar to the juice and cook for five minutes. Add just a tiny bit of butter so that it doesn't fold. And that's it.

SM
You always cooked them first and water Why not water and sugar?


I don't know. It's just what the recipe has told us to do. Hmm,

SM
well, what's interesting about cranberries, they just have a ton of natural pectin. But how long did you say you boil them till they pop? How long does that take?


I don't know how long that not very long. Yeah, not very long.

SM
Okay. Well, it's my understanding that really for the pectin to do its thing, they need to be simmered with both the sugar and the water. Okay, the longer you simmer them, the more pectin you develop. So, about a 20 minute simmer is a good idea. Oh, but let's hear what Chris has to say.

CPK
Use the recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray bag. I've used that for years. The only difference is I add a quarter teaspoon of salt to it. I think there probably less water in it than what you have here. And you cook it for 15 to 20 minutes, as Sarah said, you get a great sauce. If you wanted at that point to strain it or whatever, that's fine. But that'll get you exactly the right texture.


Am I using too much water? You

SM
say I think you make so yeah,


I agree how much water if you measure cups,

CPK
I think it's probably a copper. So if you have to look on the back of the back, I think the problem with water is you're not going to get it over 212 degrees, right? The boiling point of water so you're not getting the berries and the sugar up to a high temperature. So having less water the water eventually boils off and then the mixture starts to get hotter. You need that extra heat to get the gel to set properly. Okay, just try that it works. All right.

SM
All right. And you know what would you please let us know Okay, If it works here, you'd like to hear back. All right. Sure. Well, okay. Thanks so much. Thanks, Kay. Bye bye. Bye bye. Welcome to milk street who's calling? Oh, this


is own from Cleveland. Hi. Oh, and how can we help you? Yes. So I have been trying to find a recipe to bake Christmas, German bread called stolen bread. And I have a lovely cookbook that talks about how to make different kinds of stolen, but the author specifically states that she has tried to find one to make the very traditional Binoche stolen, but was unable to find a recipe to actually make it consistently. And so I've been trying to find something that will actually allow me to make it at home as opposed to buying it like at an import store, I've read that the amount of butter inside the stolen is actually what keeps it from rising properly. And so I'm wondering if you guys would have any recommendations on what I could do to make it successfully at home?

CPK
What's the recipe you've tried, just give us the basic concept.


So the basic concept is, you add some sort of candied fruits and yeast, about 500 grams of butter. And you sort of mix all that up, and you let it rest sort of on the calendar or somewhere cool, but not in the fridge, and then you bake it. And after you bake it, you let it rest for two weeks after it's baked. And that's sort of the prime time to cut into it. After all the flavors and things have had a chance to sort of, you know, congeal and mix up, and then that's how you serve, it only has one right only has one rise, it only has one rise, correct? Oh,

CPK
so it rises? And you said in a cool environment. Cool room temperature?


Yes. So the recipe says not to leave it like in a hot kitchen, but rather like in a pantry or someplace that sort of just below room temperature

CPK
and these ingredients in a bowl? Does the volume double? The volume


is supposed to double before you actually form it and put it in the oven.

CPK
But I would think having made use those a lot an hour at Cool. Temperatures. isn't going to do it.

SM
This is a dense, yeah, batter, isn't it? Especially with all that butter in there to get over pounded butter. Right. Yeah, I think it needs a longer ride. Is yours actually

CPK
doubling or not? I don't think it is. No, it isn't. I


mean, not even close. Yeah,

CPK
well, that's the problem. And the problem is, the East doesn't have enough time and temperature to do its work. So I would have had this problem in my kitchen. Sometimes it's 60 degrees or something and I have to like put the bowl near the fireplace, I would think 75 degrees 72 degrees would be the right temperature. And it may take a couple hours to get it to rise or even more. Another trick is you could put the dough in the fridge once it's mixed and let it sit two or three days, and then take it out and let it rise. And that might give it more time to form some structure. But you're just not letting the yeast get enough work going to create structure. That's why it's dense. The other thing is you got a lot of butter in there. You might try a little less butter. But it sounds like you just don't have enough rising time and enough temperature. I

SM
agree about that.


Would the fat content of the butter matter? Should I try something that's lower in fat?

CPK
I don't think it's gonna make a huge I mean, you're talking about 81% versus 83% or something. I don't think that's gonna make a difference. I think the East is not active enough.

SM
Yeah. Okay, great. All righty. And that show and let us know how it goes.


Absolutely, we'll do

CPK
or send us one.

SM
Oh, send us a good one. We'd like to see it. We'd love to really see it. Take care. Thanks.

CPK
Thanks for calling. Thanks, guys. Yeah. You're listening to mode Street Radio. Up next, we're chatting with Food Network Star, Ted out. That's coming up in just a moment. This is mostly Radio. I'm your host, Christopher Kimball. Ted Allen is the founding host of chopped. Every episode four chefs go head to head trying to create a dish with an unusual basket of ingredients. Ted Allen, welcome to milk Street.


It's great to be on milk street.

CPK
You had a long career on queer AI, and now over 10 years on Chopped. So what are those two shows have in common? Besides you, of course,


what they have in common is that I think part of my job in both of those shows is to try to explain cooking to people in a way that such that almost anyone could understand what I'm talking about. I'm something of an interpreter, certainly on Chopped between professional chefs and home cooks, who might have no idea what a blue montage is, or what a mother sauce is. Or maybe somebody will say a word like guest street on shopped. And I might say, Oh, you mean you mean basically a sweet and sour sauce.

CPK
The original queer I first of all, obviously, was sort of a moment in our culture. But I love the fact it's become so much part of our culture that it's been parodied. The Comedy Central did straight plan for the gay man, which I really liked, how to put neon beer signs in your living room. And then South Park spoofed it with a version where the Fab Five are actually evil crab people trying to take over the world. So when that happens, you know, you've actually made it right. A show is really made in the culture when South Park does it.


Yes, I was. Needless to say we were very excited. Now the show that show kind of devolved into something pretty, pretty silly and weird by the end, but I don't think I had any lines. But I don't care. I have a I actually have a picture that the South Park guys sent us and signed that shows their characters playing us. And I treasure it. I cherish it

CPK
once. I'm waiting for my South Park moment. But I may have to wait a long time. Talk to me about chop fruit. First of all, I want a t shirt with a line times up please step back. Because Have you ever used that in a personal relationship where you're having a fight with somebody and you go time's up, please stand back. I think


the you don't know my husband very, very well. That would not fly. Somebody wants sent me a coffee mug. That's a chopped coffee mug that says time starts now on the bat. I actually have a whole Rubbermaid bin, the big the big fat kind, stuffed with TV mementos and swag and you know, like a beach towel from the Tonight Show. And you said you wanted to talk about my career, which I often refer to as the hoax that passes for my career. But I'm very grateful to be where I am. I have a lot of fun at work. And if you can enjoy your work, you're a lucky person.

CPK
What makes chopped work? Is it the competition in terms of the timing of getting the dishes done? Is that the personal stories? Is that the competition between the chef's what really drives that show? What is it about to show you now that I don't know.


I think there are a few things. One is that, as you may know, I'm sure you might agree with me, chefs. And I mean this in the best way are control freaks. They select their lamb only from their favorite lamb provider, they know exactly who provides the herbs they like the best. They pick their plates, they set the lighting, and chopped takes away all of your control. We force you to cook with four ingredients that quite likely don't go together particularly well. Or in an obvious way. And actually the funny thing is that if we do give someone an easy basket with a skirt steak and a potato and some French butter, and that's when they mess up. I don't know what it is it chefs apparently need to be challenged with Doritos and Diet Pepsi in order to produce well piglet on our show. And pig pickled pig lips. Yes, indeed. But you know some cultures that's that's that's a regular thing. Now you've

CPK
been quoted as saying that every basket has a riddle in it. And I know the judges when they judge the dish will judge it in part by how well the person figured out the riddle What is the riddle?


The woman that runs the committee that makes the baskets Sarah horny. She always has an idea. Every basket has an idea in it. So if let's say we give you the VOSH bread and a really soft tofu and a tomatillo. Perhaps what we have in mind is that we want you to do some kind of a take on pizza. Every basket is somewhat difficult, and we spend much of our time at the judge's table talking about what we would do what we think the basket gods are looking for. But it's a pretty rare thing for someone to nail it exactly on the head as long as you cook something that is delicious and balanced. In terms of texture and acidity, and soft and crunchy and well cooked protein, then your chances are pretty good. Oh, by the way, you also have to do that in 20 minutes.

CPK
That part really threw me. I mean, 20 You know, I'm a good cook, you're a good cook, but 20 minutes. That's impressive. Do you think that the people who take more time at the front end to think about what they're going to do end up doing better versus people sort of jump into it?


Yes. I think that taking a moment to think about what you can accomplish with a tub of marscapone cheese in this amount of time. You know, we will give people a whole turkey 20 pound turkey, you can't cook that in 30 minutes, what you do, it's 20 minutes for the first round and 30 for the second and third round. You obviously have to make a decision. Are you going to cut a little medallion off the breast? Are you going to, I don't know strip the dark meat off the the legs and do something with saute that somehow and then deep fry the skin to make a chip. I think a little planning is super smart. And that's one thing that impresses me. When I it's rare that you see someone do that. Usually they sprint into the pantry to get their ingredients.

CPK
What is it about the judges in terms of whom you select? Does Martha Stewart for example, bring something particular to the judging panel? What makes a good judge?


I love having Martha Stewart on. I've always been an admirer of hers. I met her and interviewed her years ago when I was an editor at Chicago magazine. And we went and bought pierogi she was doing an appearance at what was then Marshall Fields. She was doing some kind of bridal event. And I thought I would bring her Portuguese and this is almost probably close to 20 years ago. She signed by Martha Stewart cookbook with in that she has this very floral, elegant, girly script. And she wrote something like Ted, it was very nice to see you keep trying on the pierogi Martha Stewart and I write and I showed that to her on set in this recent era when she's been working with us. And she said, Oh yeah, I would write that. Yeah. So she's got this obvious incredible level of taste incredible level of knowledge of all kinds of cooking from all over the world, and a very refined sensibility. She also has a fantastic sense of humor. She loves it. When you poke a little fun at her and her Mystique, you have to you know, like anybody you got to know that the line because she's ferocious. She might smack you with a herring. But she's very funny. Our judges are almost all people who have multiple restaurants, and who have really grown into this gig over the years. And they're all very close friends of mine. I love them to death.

CPK
What is happening Food Network started out a little rough, gained some momentum really became hugely successful with some of its stars. It's moved into other kind of programming. Where does it go from here? Do you think that the game show formula is so powerful that it remains Do you think Food Network goes back into more cooking now away from more entertainment? I've seen critics say that this standard and cook that that model that ancient Julia Child model it someday might just, you know, go away. I just wondered if you agreed with that?


I don't agree with that at all. I think that it is true that we're more demanding of our media today. But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to enjoy watching Chris Kimball make an omelet. I've seen a lot of people make omelets. I think the cast of any show is the most important thing about the show. That's true. The people who plan for the future of the network, I will tell you, I do know that the Food Network does exhaustive, extensive research into what into how people like me are perceived by the audience or by a focus group. But running running a television business is something I should not be allowed to do this and I haven't been

CPK
what have you learned about cooking? I mean, I think I enjoyed watching the show because actually, I kind of learned some things or got some ideas. Have you picked up anything over the years you've actually used in your own cooking from the show


all the time? And in fact, I mean, it's it, I absorb it and then I can't and I don't even recall the chapters where I learned it. More than anything. What a day on chop does for me is it inspires me.

CPK
You were a food critic at one time, I think is Chicago. Is


that right? That Chicago magazine. Yeah.

CPK
What your conclusion after doing that was what about that job?


I took that job very very, very soon. Seriously, because obviously, when you're critiquing a restaurant, you could some food critics are in a position to put somebody out of business, or to at least, you know, really hurt someone. And this is a person's livelihood. I find it a very, I find it a very intellectually stimulating challenge to taste dishes and decide who is doing something true and balanced and wonderful and soulful. And who's not quite meeting the mark. And it's, it's, it never gets dull for me, and I don't think it ever will.

CPK
Ted, thank you so much for being on Millstreet it was really a pleasure.


It is always a pleasure to talk to you, Chris. It's always a pleasure to take a stroll down milk street.

CPK
That was Ted Allen, host of Food Network's chopped. He's an award winning writer, also a food and wine expert. I never watched chopped until I was preparing for my interview with Ted. And to my great surprise, I really liked it. You know, chat made me think that our definition of entertainment has changed over the years from Punch and Judy shows to opera to vaudeville to radio, then on to movies and television. I do however, wonder if a cooking competition is a bit tame compared to entertainment options just a century ago. For example, Ethel Pirtle used to motorcycle around the wall of death with a lion in her sidecar. Frank Richards shot himself in the stomach with a cannibal twice every day. And most famously, Joseph Pujol was capable of expelling vast amounts of gas in order to blow up candles and even produce melodies. Not very sophisticated you say? Sure. But I bet it was really entertaining. It's time to head into the kitchen and milk Street to chat with Lynn Clark about this week's recipe. German applicake Lynn, how are you? I'm good, Chris up for cooking. Let's just start with that. It's a German apple cake. And let me just describe the style. It's a one layer cake. It's fairly tender cake. It's almost like a coffee cake really was sliced fruit on top and we got the recipe or the initial idea for the recipe from a book called classic German baking from Louisa Weis sort of a one bowl cake. It's easy, but it's delicious is a little bit different than what we do here. So a one layer cake with apples on top. How do we get started?

LC
So first, I want to tell you that this is sort of a top secret recipe that Luisa found on of all places, a box of almond paste, not so secret. So she tinkered with it quite a bit and then when we brought it here to milk Street, we tinkered with it a little bit more. Typically almond paste is not in a German apple cake. However, apples and nuts is a pretty common combination in Germany. So it added that flavor to this German cake and that makes it a little bit different than a typical German apple cake.

CPK
We're talking about not marzipan, which is sweeter. This is almond paste, which you can buy in any supermarket. It comes in two, right? Yeah, you

LC
definitely want to steer clear of marzipan. That's way too sweet here. We just want that like subtle flavor of the almond paste in this recipe. One thing that she did differently here was rather than just mix the almond paste into the batter, almond paste can be a little bit crumbly, so you would end up with pockets of Allmand what she does is mix it in while she's creaming the butter and sugar which kind of allows to incorporate fully throughout the cake so you're getting that flavor all over.

CPK
So the mixing method is cream butter and sugar with the almond paste and then add your dry and liquid ingredients is sort of classic American style. It's a

LC
pretty simple cake. Those things get creamed together, we add some eggs then we add the dry ingredients very very simply poured into a spring form pan, and then we top it with our apples.

CPK
So these apples are thinly sliced and sort of nicely layered on top.

LC
They are it's a really pretty cake too. We're using granny smith apples, we like the tartness of grainy Smith plus they hold up really well in the oven. Because they're a little bit heavy on the top of the cake. You want to slice them really thin and then we found them out on the top of the cake almost in like a seven point star shape and looks really really pretty and has really nice flavor on the top.

CPK
Yeah, say worried about granny smith apples. These are the worst apples in the world for eating out of hand. I mean they're really nasty but they're great and bacon best for bacon. Yeah, because they actually hold their shape that turned applesauce. So German apple cake awful cookin courtesy of Louisa Weis cookbook author classic German baking. She tinker with it. We did too. But the original recipe comes to the back of a tube of almond paste. Thank you Lynn.

LC
You're welcome Chris. You can get this recipe for German apple cake at milk street radio.com.

CPK
This is Mill Street Radio. Coming up Adam Gopnik discusses the symbolism of turkeys in Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. We'll be right back. If you enjoy mystery radio, please take a moment to rate and review us on Apple podcast stitcher or your favorite podcast app. This helps other people find the show also encourages them to listen and thank you. I'm Christopher Kimball and you're listening to milk Street Radio on next time for this week's culinary tip from one of our listeners.


Hi, my name is Tim Boyle. And here's my kit. Usually when I make potatoes for like mashed potatoes, I peel the potatoes. And now I've gotten in the habit that I do save the peels for the next day or day after and either fry them up or fill them with some type of stuffing and cook them and reuse them. So don't throw those peels away, save them reuse them. They're just great. You can even make french fries or potato chips out of so thank you and good luck and have a great holiday. Thank you.

CPK
If you'd like to share your culinary hack or secret ingredient on milk Street Radio, please go to 177 Milk street.com/radio Tips next up its regular contributor Adam Gopnik. Adam, welcome back to Main Street. What's on your mind this week?


Well, Chris, you know what's on everyone's mind, I guess so the joys of the season. And I am thinking about the politics of the turkey. From the beginnings of the modern Christmas in the 19th century, the question of giving away turkeys and eating turkeys has always been central. And one of the things that I think people don't often contemplate is the true political nature of the most famous Turkey in literary history. And that is of course, Christopher.

CPK
Well, it's Mr. Scrooge.


Exactly, exactly right. It's the Christmas turkey that Scrooge after his epiphanic night decides to give to the Cratchit family. The biggest turkey in the window. Remember, he sends a boy to a boy says what the one almost big as I am. What's fascinating is if you read what was said and argued about that gift of Scrooge is the gift of the turkey to the crash. It's it's one of the most controversial moments in 19th century politics and one that resonates to our own time, because free marketeers kind of the proto ain Randers some of them very sympathetic people, said Scrooges gift of that Turkey is extremely dangerous in a market society. Because the question we have to ask is not are the crash. It's glad to have the turkey. The only question worth asking is who didn't get the turkey because Scrooge bought it for the crotchets Scrooge in this view, is unnaturally sub inventing the turkey market by short circuiting the system and giving one away in this medieval altruistic gesture to the Cratchit family. So many people who were in favor of free market reforms as we understand them, were very anti Cratchit.

CPK
But But wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait wait Scrooge through the money down to the quote unquote boy, who paid good money market rate for that Turkey? What Scrooge did with it after was purchased is that relevant to a discussion of free market economics?


Well, in the Westminster review shortly after the publication of A Christmas Carol, it was seem to be because Rouge was seen then. As a patron. If there's only one Scrooge doing that, perhaps it's okay. But Scrooge was seen very much as the patron of a system that instead of empowering families to buy their own turkeys made them dependent on the grace and favor of rich people to get their turkeys. So free marketeers believe that everyone should be involved. And no one should be dependent on a benevolent patron or philanthropist to get their turkey. So many of them and some of them are exactly what we now call liberal frowns on the gift of the turkey, the Cratchit family. As I say the Westminster review, which was run by my great hero, John Stuart Mill, gave Dickens a very bad review for Christmas Carol. Exactly because Scrooge was distorting the market. On the other hand, the great right wing thinker, Thomas Carlyle, at first love to Christmas, Carol, because he thought it was a revolutionary book, an attack on want an attack on privilege and attack on miserliness. And he thought that Dickens was pointing the way towards a new millennium. But then he realized that when Dickens had Scrooge give the turkey to the crotchets, he really meant it. He thought that just giving turkeys to people was a positive thing, that you didn't have to have some large, radical, reactionary backward looking revolution, in order to have a better world that if all of us acted with more and greater compassion, in all of the orbits of our private and personal life, the world would improve. And he wrote very angrily about how disappointed he was in Dickens in the long run, because Dickens was one of those foolish people who believed that you could butter up the world just by handing out turkeys.

CPK
Can I stop you just for a second thought? I just have to say this, because Dickens is my favorite author of all time, I've read that book 20 times. He was about a man near the end of his life, coming to realization that he had wasted his life, and that he needed to think about people other than himself, which which is not a function of making society better by giving turkeys away. But by acting in a more socially responsible manner. Isn't that a better summation of A Christmas Carol?


Well, it for liberal humanists, like thou, and I, Christopher, it is, we think that people should begin to improve the world by acting with greater compassion and generosity in their immediate social circle, be kind to the people who depend on you or the people who are in your orbit who have less than you do. That's what we take away from it. That's what Dickens meant for us to take away from it. But for a great radical profit, like Carlyle, those little acts of individual compassion, those small efforts at immediate amelioration of our circumstances, seemed like mere reformism when what was needed was revolution. I see. So he hated the turkey because he thought it only encouraged people in the belief that you could make the world a better place by exactly those small acts of compassion, and reform that you and I believe are essential to making a better world that you and I may believe, certainly, I believe, are the only mechanism we have to make a better world, right? The turkey was, as you know, a very big deal. When Dickens was writing a Christmas carol in the early Victorian period, you remember that when the crash hits are having their actual meal that Scrooge observes on Christmas night, they're not having a turkey, now they're having a fatty little goose because a goose was the feast food of the London poor, no one could afford a turkey a turkey was still a very big deal. Now, as I say the politics have changed significantly. In our world. What worries us are the illnesses of abundance. We worry that our turkeys are farmed in humanely, we worry that our turkeys are raised to have breasts so enormous that they literally would break their legs, if they stood up on them. We worry about a whole other range of questions about personal responsibility and altruism. Our ethical questions are different. And yet we can't avoid the ethical questions tied up in food. So as we feast for the season, we have to remember that every choice we make for the table is a choice loaded with questions of value.

CPK
Well, I'd like to simplicity of Dickens when he is it is most modeling and romantic. It which is simply at the end. Remember, no man kept Christmas in his heart better than Scrooge for the rest of his days. So so maybe that's all when these to do is keep Christmas in your heart and you can check out the turkey but that was the point of the story, right?


That is the point of the story. But the point of the story is also that we keep Christmas through material benevolence, keeping Christmas for Dickens didn't just mean keeping it as a religious festival. Tighten our hearts. In fact, that's a very secondary part of it. What it means is being aware of other people's impoverishment and trying in our own immediate orbits to limit and ameliorate that impoverishment. No act we make at the table is unframed with meaning no choice we make for our feasts exists in a vacuum of human value.

CPK
So you can't just cook it and eat it. You have to think about it. You have to


think your food whether you want to or not, whether you choose to or not, you're going to end up thinking your food so you'd better think about it clearly.

CPK
Adam, I don't know whether I should listen to you on these holidays or Charles Dickens but I suspect


I should a Dickens before Gardner dies before doff my hat. to a relatively few writers, but every writer should be on his or her knees before the genius of Charles Dickens and the morality of Charles Dickens which reminded us the thing to do is to go out and buy the damn turkey right and not worry about a politics.

CPK
Adam Gopnik keep Christmas in your heart all the days of the year,


you as well Christopher

CPK 50:25
that was Adam Gopnik, staff writer for The New Yorker. You know, Dickens had a strong affinity for the poor since his father was briefly sent to debtors prison. As young Charles was apprenticed in a blacking factory. At the heart of Dickens worldview was a love of humanity, but also a suspicion of the impersonal nature of the industrial age. So when Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning, a changed man no longer as a secret and solitary oyster he says, it's Christmas Day, I haven't missed it. Here the good news on Christmas morning, open the window, shout for joy be a good friend, and above all, embrace the promise of Christmas present. That's it for today. If you tuned in later or just want to listen again. You can download and subscribe to Milk Street radio wherever you find your podcasts. To learn more about Milk Street, please go to 177milkstreet.com there you can download each week's recipe, watch the new season of our television show, or order our latest cookbook, the milk street cookbook. You can also find us on Facebook at Christopher Kimball's milk street on Instagram and Twitter and 177 milk Street. We'll be back next week and thanks Of course for listening.


Credits
Christopher Kimball's milk street radio is produced by milk street in association with WGBH executive producer Melissa Baldino, senior audio editor Melissa Allison, producer Annie Sinsabaugh, associate producer Jackie Novak, production assistant Stephanie Cohn and production help from Debbie Paddock, senior audio engineer Douglas Sugars, additional editing from Vicki Merrick, Sidney Lewis, and Hayley Fager, and audio mixing from Jay Allison at Atlantic public media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Theme music by to Toubab Krew additional music by Georg Brandl Egloff. Christopher Kimball's milk street radio is distributed by PRX.