Wednesday , September 10, 2014 - 12:00 AM
As a kid growing up in South Weber, Tom Woodbury liked to experiment with food — creating the "perfect" peanut butter and jelly sandwich at age six, and doing a fourth grade science fair project on baking powder.
One of his first jobs was cooking at the former Coppermill Restaurant in Roy in the early 1990s.
So it's no surprise that the Roy High grad eventually became known as "Chef Tom" to millions of TV viewers of ShopNBC and ShopHQ, touting knives, pots and pans and other kitchenware.
Now he's sharing his cooking know-how in a book, "Eat Fresh: Quick and Easy Meals," (Cedar Fort, $18.99).
"The goal was to take all the great produce and great food that we get here in Utah, and make a cookbook that featured all those items," said Woodbury, now 38 and living in Holladay. "I also wanted to force people to think out of the box a little, by introducing them to flavors they might not be familiar with."
For instance, people might not think of making Korean drumsticks, or pairing pulled pork with a blueberry sauce. Or roasting almonds with rosemary and olives. Or adding sage and browned butter to mashed potatoes.
The recipes, about 120 in all, run the gamut from appetizers to desserts, and reflect some of the recipes Woodbury developed as a for shopping TV, as well as his local cooking segments on ABC-4's news and "Good Things Utah" programs.
He initially called his Red, White and Blue Burger (using blue cheese and roasted red bell pepper) Claret and Cobalt, in honor of Real Salt Lake.
"I'm a diehard soccer fan," added Woodbury.
He said the book is for people who like to make good food without a lot of complicated steps.
"I've seen a lot of recipes in cookbooks that look good in theory, but have unnecessary steps," he said. "With my food science background, I maximize flavor while minimizing unnecessary time in the kitchen. There are a lot of times when things can be cooked in the same pot."
In his Best Whole Wheat Waffles Ever recipe, a tablespoon of vinegar causes a chemical reaction with the baking soda and baking powder.
"It gives you a light, flaky waffle — ten times better than what you would expect," he said. "Ordinarily when you use whole wheat, things are really dense."
Currently, Woodbury is on what he calls a "TV sabbatical," and is not affiliated with any television programs.
"For the past 5 years I was contracted to ShopHQ and ShopNBC as a product and culinary expert," he said. "It is filmed in Minneapolis, and I was traveling to the point where I was gone four-plus days a week. I've got three young kids, and I realized my kids were growing up without me and needed me not to be gone so much."
He also works with Thermoworks, helping to sell specialized thermometers to restaurants to insure food quality.
Although he's made a name for himself as a TV chef, he hopes his book will entice people away from the TV and into the kitchen.
"I was reading food author Michael Pollan recently, and he said we spend more time watching food TV than actually cooking," Woodbury said. "I'm trying to get those people who are watching food programming to feel comfortable with actually making food in the kitchen. We are all living a hectic life, you want to put good food on the table without taking hours and hours."
The Best Whole Wheat Waffles Ever
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
3. Add milk, egg, oil and vanilla, and mix well to combine. Add enough liquid so that batter makes a small mound or ribbon temporarily before returning to level.
4. If you're adding in additional fruit (blueberries, bananas, apples and so on), do it now, and gently stir.
5. Right before pouring batter onto waffle iron, add vinegar and mix quickly. Make waffles as per the instructions for your specific waffle maker.
6. Place on a cooling rack immediately after removing from waffle iron.
7. If you plan to freeze and reheat, wrap each waffle individually, and reheat in your toaster on a medium setting.
Makes 3 to 4 8-inich Belgian waffles.
Options: For blueberry waffles, add 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (and thawed) blueberries.
For banana waffles, add 1 mashed banana and mix it in immediately prior to adding vinegar.
— "Eat Fresh" by Tom Woodbury
4 cups dense bread, cubed into bite-size pieces (sourdough or French bread preferred)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (California Olive Ranch brand preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 roma tomatoes, sliced
3-4 large peaches, sliced
10-15 basil leaves, cut into small strips
5 ounces arugula (about 6 cups)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, add olive oil. Let oil warm for 60 seconds, and hten add bread, mixing rapidly to coat bread with olive oil. Sprinkle salt evenly over bread cubes. Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently until bread is golden brown.
2. While bread is toasting, add tomatoes, peaches, baisil and srugula to a large salad bowl.
3. In a small container, make a dressing by combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mix well.
4. Add toasted bread to salad and toss gently to combine. Add dressing and toss again. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes prior to serving to allow the bread to absorb moisture.
Makes 5-6 servings.
— "Eat Fresh" by Tom Woodbury
Note: For added richness, after toasting bread, use the same pan over medium-low heat to gently warm peaches. Let cook for 10 minutes, stirring gently every 2-3 minutes.
— Valerie Phillips can be reached at www.chewandchat.com.
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