Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tyler Florence Cooking Demo (sort of) @ Soaring Eagle

Tyler's kitchen on stage at Soaring Eagle, presented by KitchenAid

Last Friday night, I went to see Chef Tyler Florence of Food Network fame, do a live cooking demonstration at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant, MI.  I was incredibly excited when I found out about the show two months ago, via Soaring Eagle's Facebook site.   They promoted it on their website saying "Chef Tyler will have a full kitchen on stage for a high-energy rock n' roll cooking show!"  Sounds fun right?!  I mean, what fellow foodie wouldn't want to be in the same room with Tyler!   I immediately booked my 4th row center tickets, and counted down the weeks with great anticipation.

A few days before the show, Soaring Eagle posted the following on their Facebook wall:
"It's a rock n' roll cooking show and Chef Tyler will be making: Chicken Fried Steak with Milk Gravy, Black Eyed Peas with Stewed Tomatoes, Candied Yams, Green Beans with Sliced Onion and Bacon, Big Papa's Banana Pudding and Pimento Cheese with Crackers and Crudite'."
Makes your mouth water just reading the menu, doesn't it? 

The show began with an awkward introduction by someone who I believe was a manager at the hotel.  He tried to be slick and funny, but when he started talking about food coupons for the resort food vendors, he lost me.  His introduction of Tyler almost came out of the blue and could not have been more weak.  "Where's the rock?" "Where's the roll?"  I asked my husband.  I was confused.  Then Tyler walked out on stage with his big sexy grin and all was well.  I was ready for some amazing food to be prepared right before my eyes, by one of my favorite chefs. 

        Tyler telling the crowd a story about his early days as an intern at the Grand Traverse Resort. 

What transpired next was beyond unexpected.  The KitchenAid Induction Cooktop, brand new for this demonstration, kept erroring out and wouldn't work properly.  Tyler and his staff had the most difficult time operating it, which resulted in burned custard for the banana pudding, unfinished dishes and a lot of frustration.  Tyler has a great sense of humor though and kept smiling throughout the whole thing.  He engaged the audience well and answered numerous questions.  I felt terrible for him though.  I  wanted to go buy a bottle of Jim Beam (a favorite from his lonely, cold, intern days in MI), and tell him to make himself a cocktail instead!

Eventually, he was able to get his chicken fried steak and black eyed peas recipe partially done, and they smelled delicious.  The green beans and sweet potatoes came out of the oven and looked partially cooked.  The only thing served to an audience member was the chicken fried steak.  I'm sure everything would have tasted fabulous.  I plan on giving the whole menu a try next month, when his new book, Tyler Florence Family Meal comes out.  While the evening didn't turn out as expected, I still had a good time and hope Tyler knows....we still love ya in Michigan! 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe   Photo from

Well, I wanted to post my own picture of this one, but it was gone before I had a chance to snap one.  Two out of my three kids loved it, so I would call it a winner.  Here's a link to for the complete original recipe.  I decided to cook mine in a silicone bundt pan, rather than 2 loaf pans, and it turned out beautifully.  My daughter said it looked like a giant chocolate doughnut.  The chocolate chips made this a little more decadent, but it's still pretty healthy.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread 



1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 cups grated zucchini, (1 medium)


Preheat oven to 325°F.  Coat two 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. (I used 1 bundt pan).

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil, vanilla and chocolate chips in another large bowl until blended.
Add to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Fold in zucchini. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.

Bake the loaves 55 to 60 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Invert onto rack and cool completely.