“For me, there are few things that are more relaxing than lingering at the table with good friends... But I know that for a lot of people, putting together a meal, especially for guests, is the opposite of relaxing... I’m here to tell you: It doesn’t have to be that way.”--from the Introduction
Aussie Curtis Stone, host of TLC’s Take Home Chef, is best known for his laid-back approach to cooking. Though he’s worked as head chef in several Michelin-starred London restaurants, some of his most memorable meals are the ones he’s shared with friends at home. Now, Curtis shows you how to have as much fun in the kitchen as your guests are sure to have over a comfortable, unforgettable meal.
In Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone, you’ll find everything from “First Thing in the Morning” bites and “Brunches to Blow Their Minds” to “Weekend Lunches” and “Something to Eat on the Sofa.” With the home cook in mind, Curtis avoids off-putting culinary lingo and hard-to-find ingredients. Instead, he picks what’s in season and just around the corner. This down-to-earth approach results in wonderfully interesting and flavorful taste combinations that are perfect for parties or just hanging out with a close friend or loved ones.
• Caramelized Nectarines with Yogurt and Honey
• Crispy Tortilla with Ham, Chile, Spinach, and Fried Eggs
• Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad with Pepper-Crusted New York Steak
• Pan-Fried Calamari with Roasted Asparagus Salad
• Homemade Salted Caramel Popcorn
• Baby Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives
• Sticky Chicken Drumsticks
• Red Curry with Lobster and Pineapple
• Veal Cutlet Coated in an Aged Jack Cheese Crust
• Slowly Cooked Brisket with a BBQ Bourbon Sauce
• Creamy Mascarpone and Parsley Polenta
• Brownie Cupcakes
These delicious recipes and Curtis’s infectiously easygoing attitude are all it takes to end your entertaining stress and get you and your guests into a relaxing mood. From Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Fresh Linguine with Garlic Shrimp and Homemade Pesto
This satisfying dish just takes minutes to put together. Despite the speedy preparation, it seems really indulgent and tastes fresh and healthy at the same time. When making pesto, you can vary the consistency to match the purpose: Make it nice and thick to spread over bruschetta, or thin it with extra olive oil so it’s easy to toss through pasta, as in this version.
- 1 1/2 cups (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 9 ounces fresh linguine (from the dairy case)
- 20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Parmesan shavings, for garnish
To make the pesto: Grind the basil, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan cheese with a mortar and pestle until a smooth paste forms. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, use a food processor instead.) Slowly add the olive oil, grinding until a smooth sauce forms. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. Then cover and set it aside.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the vine of tomatoes in an ovenproof skillet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 8 minutes, or until heated through.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking, for about 2 minutes, or until al dente.
While the linguine cooks, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shrimp and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are just cooked through and the garlic is tender. Stir the pesto into the shrimp mixture.
Drain the linguine, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the linguine in a large bowl with the shrimp-pesto mixture, adding enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten the sauce so that it coats the pasta evenly.
Using a two-pronged carving fork, swirl some pasta around the fork. Slide it off the fork, letting it mound in the center of a plate. Repeat. Arrange the shrimp and the roasted tomatoes around the pasta. Garnish with the cheese and serve. From Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Lazy Asparagus Omelet
One of my favorite parts of going on holiday is heading down each morning to the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I always make a beeline for the omelet station--even a chef loves having someone else man the omelet pan sometimes! Back at home, I make this much easier version and find it has all the flavor of those yummy holiday omelets. Taleggio is a creamy cheese similar to Brie, with a slightly stronger flavor; it pairs really well with asparagus. Serve this with some hot, grainy toast.
- 15 thin asparagus spears (about 6 ounces total), tough ends trimmed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 ounces Taleggio cheese, shaved into thin slices
(Serves 4 to 6)
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Cut the tips of the asparagus spears into 3-inch lengths; then cut the remainder of the spears into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cook the asparagus in the boiling water for 30 seconds, or just until it becomes bright green. Drain the asparagus and submerge it in a large bowl of ice water until cool; drain again.
Preheat the broiler. Using a fork, whisk the eggs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend well. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat, swirling the pan to coat it with the butter. Add the eggs and asparagus, and gently stir with a silicone spatula to lift the cooked egg off the bottom of the skillet and stir it into the uncooked portion (be careful not to overstir the omelet). As the omelet begins to set, give it one last gentle stir. Then scatter the cheese slices over the top. Place the pan under the broiler and cook for about 1 minute, or until the omelet is set on top and the cheese has melted. Using the silicone spatula, loosen the omelet from the pan, slide it onto a platter, and serve.