The Food Network, the only 24-hour cable channel dedicated exclusively to cooking, eating, culinary shopping excursions and nutrition, reaches 80 million U.S. households. For the organic home cook, the programming lineup is diverse, educational-and occasionally a tad wacky.
The "Big Easy"-Going Man
When you hear the familiar cry of "Bam!" emanating from your television, you know Emeril Lagasse is passionately pitching a handful of "kickin' it up" spices into some divine dish-eggplant salad with mushroom dressing, falafel with tahini sauce or winter squash chowder-on one of his two extremely popular shows, Essence of Emeril (4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday) or Emeril Live (8 p.m. and midnight daily).
Lagasse began his culinary career as an adolescent at a Portuguese bakery in Fall River, Massachusetts, where his appreciation for homegrown ingredients took root. He has shopped-and grown-organic for almost 15 years, even working with a hog farmer to develop his own spicy andouille sausage.
Lagasse's first love was traditional French cooking, followed by his world-renowned foray into Louisiana's hot-and-spicy fare. The first restaurant he opened, Emeril's Restaurant in bustling New Orleans, became known for the eponymous chef's commitment to "everything from scratch," "spice is life" foods. Since then, Lagasse has launched eight additional restaurants (Nola, in New Orleans; Emeril's New Orleans Fish House, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas; Delmonico, also in New Orleans; Emeril's Orlando, at Universal Studios in Florida; Delmonico Steakhouse, Las Vegas; Tchoup Chop, also in Orlando; Emeril's Restaurant Atlanta; and Emeril's Miami Beach.
If you are lucky enough to command a table at one of these popular hot spots, you'll be hard pressed to choose from menu items like New Orleans BBQ shrimp with petite rosemary biscuits ($16); warm wilted spinach salad with three-nut crusted goat cheese, red onion and andouille sausage vinaigrette ($8.50); or pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with fava beans, Vidalia onion and roasted tomato tart, wild mushrooms and shellfish vinaigrette ($28). Top it off with a decadent dessert like bananas foster bread pudding with rum caramel sauce, brown sugar cinnamon crčme anglaise and brule banana ($7.50) or bourbon vanilla bean crčme brule with marbled cocoa sugar cookies ($7.50).
You can order one of Lagasse's best-selling cookbooks for up to 32% off at Amazon.com:
From Emeril's Kitchens: Favorite Recipes from Emeril's Restaurants,
Emeril's TV Dinners: Kickin' It Up a Notch with Recipes from Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril,
Emeril's New New Orleans,
Louisiana Real and Rustic,
Emeril's Creole Christmas
The Organic Queen
The doyenne of the Food Network's organically inclined chefs is Kathleen Daelemans, who has developed menus and cooked at some of the top restaurants in the country: The Grand Wailea and Club Kula, both in Hawaii; the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park; and the Zuni Café in San Francisco. Her love of food eventually showed: At one point, she weighed 205 pounds and wore a size 22 dress.
Now 80 pounds lighter (and a size 8), Daelemans shows viewers how to use locally grown, organic, seasonally fresh foods on Cooking Thin, which airs at 11:30 a.m. Friday. On recent episodes, she taught two "odd couple" roommates how to make zesty black beans and rice and a Southern Methodist University sophomore how to whip up Ahi tuna with Napa cabbage salad, accompanied by chili mashed potatoes.
Daelemans has written two hit books, Getting Thin and Loving Food! and Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, which feature recipes perfectly suited to organic cooking: white fish with lime-ginger sauce, ideal for those intimidated by the prospect of cooking fish correctly; zucchini, corn and rice casserole, just right for an organic potluck supper; spicy sweet potato wrap, a vegetarian stew served atop bread, with a dollop of yogurt and cilantro; and eggplant salsa, a thick, chutney-style topping for baked fish or slices of grilled bread. Click on the links above for up to 30% savings at Amazon.com.
"If you're a breakfast skipper, snap out of it!" Daelemans writes in Getting Thin, and the "Breakfast for Kings" section of the book is a standout for organic home chefs: basil-asparagus breakfast strata, a baked egg-and-cheese casserole; banana peanut-butter pancakes, which Daelemans makes when her nieces visit; oatmeal cookie pancakes, another crowd pleaser; and peanut butter and jelly french toast, whose innate sweetness allows you to skip sugary, high-calorie syrup.