Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Hearty Boys at the Baltimore Book Festival

If you missed my first posts about the Baltimore Book Festival, you can read them here, here, here, and here.

By Saturday evening the rain had lessened but most festival-goers had already called it quits. The crowd was quite sparse for the last cooking demo of the day, so we were able to sit in the very front row. Good thing we were under the tent because the rain started coming down hard again.

Hubby and I were both excited to see Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, better known as The Hearty Boys. Several years back they were the winners of season one of Food TV's The Next Food Network Star. They have their own program on Food TV called Party Line with the Hearty Boys.

Dan and Steve may not be as funny as this guy but they know their stuff. They made three recipes for us to sample: a goat cheese tart (not our cup of tea), a sausage and bean chili (yummy), and bread pudding with blueberry cream topping (to die for!).

Speaking of that chili, here's a video of Dan explaining the trick to cooking the beans:

The Hearty Boys shared their thoughts and tips as they cooked. I didn't write everything down but here are a few I found interesting:
  • even if you're not cutting down on your salt intake, you should always buy low sodium products (specifically stock/broth) - you want to season things to YOUR taste not to the CAN'S taste
  • if a recipe calls for creme fraiche you can substitute sour cream OR you can make your own creme fraiche - here's how: mix equal parts sour cream and heavy cream - cover and leave on counter all night (NOT in fridge) - refrigerate the next day
  • in speaking about fun cocktails Steve said "we lost Gin [to vodka] in the 1950s" and if vodka is tasteless, why drink it? - "we lost punch in the 1970s to orange sherbert and Sprite" - but there are so many better kinds of punch to make
Here's another shot of the demo. Don't you love the hanging mirror? It allows you to see what they guys are doing up on the countertop.

In speaking about their cook book Talk with Your Mouth Full: The Hearty Boys Cookbook, Dan and Steve explained that, as caterers, they understand the logistics of having a party. They know how to keep your food looking good even when you have to reheat it, how much ice you need for a 30 person dinner, what kinds of alcohol and how much of each for a 20 person cocktail party. In fact, they shared the secret to being a wonderful host/hostess. Want to know what it is? Lean on in and I'll tell you ... but you have to keep it a secret!
"It's not about busting your butt to throw the perfect party ... it's about giving the appearance that you busted your butt to throw the perfect party."
They guys explained that that secret is what inspired their book. It's meant to be a how-to guide that will make you look great as a host/hostess. Steve went on to say "We want you to break the spine on it, get tomato sauce on it ... we want you to USE IT!"

Hubby bought their cookbook and was VERY impressed. Here are his reasons:
  • these are foods we would actually eat on a regular basis
  • the ingredients are (usually) simple and standard
  • there's an entire section on fun cocktails to serve (yeah!)
  • there are TONS of party/hosting tips (what to serve, how to vary the same dish for different events, how much to make, what to prepare in advance and when, and lots more)
Of course we got Dan and Steve to sign our new cook book after their demo. That's hubby on the right.

And get this - Dan and Steve are going on a cruise with a ship-full of their fans AND they are planning a food and wine trip to Tuscany that will be open to fans as well. How cool is that?! You can find more info about the cruise here but you'll have to check back at their website in a few months for info on Tuscany as it won't be posted for a while. I think they said the trip would be in June '09 though.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good cookbook. It's so hard to find one that isn't filled with exotic ingredients that are impossible to find.

Susan Elliott said...

This looks like one cook book I might actually find useful...cocktail recipes and party tips...even for the girl who tries to burn her house down when she cooks.

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