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Carla Hall of ABC's 'The Chew' plans Market District visit

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 9:11 p.m.
Carla Hall of 'The Chew.'
Carla Hall of 'The Chew.'
Carla Hall's Butterscotch Mousse with Vanilla Salt in Tuile Cups
Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Butterscotch Mousse with Vanilla Salt in Tuile Cups Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Chicken Pot Pie (With Crust on the Bottom!)
Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Chicken Pot Pie (With Crust on the Bottom!) Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Rustic Mushroom Tart
Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Rustic Mushroom Tart Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Curried Beef Dumplings
Greg Powers Photography
Carla Hall's Curried Beef Dumplings Greg Powers Photography
Book cover of Carla Hall's 'Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You” (Atria Books, $30)
Book cover of Carla Hall's 'Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You” (Atria Books, $30)

No group of adults has as much fun with food as the gang on ABC's popular daytime lifestyle series “The Chew.”

Carla Hall is the self-proclaimed daredevil of her group of co-hosts, which includes chefs Mario Batali and Michael Symon, entertaining expert Clinton Kelly and fitness guru Daphne Oz.

Hall is a professional chef who competed on Bravo TV's “Top Chef” in 2008 and “Top Chef All-Stars” in 2011, owns an online artisan cookie business and finished her first cookbook, “Cooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You” (Atria Books, $30) this past year.

Despite her knowledge and experience as a chef, she is passionate about many interests other than food.

“I'm a Renaissance woman,” she says. “I do more than just cook.”

Among her favorite accomplishments on “The Chew” so far this season were dancing with the Rockettes, learning to fly on the set of Broadway's “Mary Poppins” and performing with a Cirque du Soleil troupe. She loves to perform and says she would jump at the opportunity to score a bit part in a Broadway play, “or off-Broadway, or even off-off-Broadway.”

But when she steps into her kitchen in Washington, D.C. — her home when she's not in New York City working on “The Chew” — she cooks with feeling for her family, which includes her husband, Matthew Lyons, and stepson, Noah. The title of her cookbook helps explain her philosophy for preparing creative dishes.

“We make a lot of pastas, and I love salads made with whatever fresh ingredients are on hand,” she says, “things like fennel, apple, red onion, fresh herbs, radishes and chick peas for protein. I call it our ‘bits and bobs' salad.”

Her husband frequently cooks, too, and, about once a week, he prepares one of her “favorite dishes in the whole world,” an entrée she named Matthew's Chicken Curry that features spicy flavors in a creamy coconut milk sauce.

Hall will visit two Pittsburgh Market District stores this weekend to meet her fans and prepare a few recipes from “Cooking with Love,” which she says essentially is a food journal of her life.

It includes recollections of good times with family and friends and memories of Sunday suppers with her grandma, “Granny,” to whom she dedicates the book. Hall draws inspiration from her Southern home cooking that she enjoyed as a child growing up in Nashville. Her grandma's treasured recipes in her cookbook include her Slow-Cooked Sunday Smothered Pork Chops and Five-Flavor Pound Cake, which incorporates a blend of the extracts of vanilla, rum, coconut, lemon and almond.

Hall didn't start out pursuing a career as a chef. She earned an accounting degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and worked for a public accounting firm before spending several years as a runway model in Paris, Milan and London, where she was introduced to European cuisine.

When she moved to Washington, she attended L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Md., and worked as a sous chef at the Henley Park Hotel in Washington. She served as executive chef at The State Plaza Hotel and The Washington Club and taught classes at CulinAerie cooking school in Washington and L'Academie de Cuisine. She operated a lunch-delivery service and a catering business before starting her online designer-cookie store, Alchemy by Carla Hall, where she is executive chef of “petite cookies, made with love.”

In her “day job” with the crew of “The Chew,” Hall says she hopes the new year will bring more opportunities for her to explore new adventures, in and out of the TV studio.

As for “cooking with love,” she likes repeating one of her favorite sayings: “If you're not in a good mood, the only thing you should make is a reservation.”

Candy Williams is a contributing writer to Trib Total Media.

Butterscotch Mousse With Vanilla Salt in Tuile Cups

For the Vanilla Salt:

¼ dried vanilla bean

¼ cup kosher salt, divided

For the Butterscotch Mousse:

23⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon table salt

1½ cups half-and-half, divided

2 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 vanilla bean, pod split and seeds scraped

2 teaspoons dark rum

1 cup heavy cream

For the Almond Tuiles:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

13 cup light corn syrup

1½ cups almonds, finely ground (see Note)

2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Candied Almonds:

1 teaspoon water

1 large egg white

4 cups whole almonds

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

To prepare the Vanilla Salt: Coarsely chop or break the vanilla bean into two pieces. Combine 1 piece and 2 tablespoons of the salt in a spice grinder. Pulse until the vanilla is very finely chopped and blended with the salt. Transfer to a small bowl. Repeat with the remaining vanilla and salt. This makes more than you'll need just for this dessert. Store any remaining in an airtight container for as long as 1 week, and use it any way you'd like. It's good on any caramel or chocolate desserts and on savory dishes such as roast pork.

To prepare the Almond Tulles: In a large saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and corn syrup. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the mixture is well blended.

Stir in the almonds, flour, salt and vanilla until well combined. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. The batter can be refrigerated in an airtight container for as long as 2 months.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two half-sheet pans with Silpats or other nonstick silicone baking mats.

Form the tuile batter into 1-inch balls and place 3 inches apart on a pan. (You'll be able to fit five balls on a pan: one near each corner and one in the center.) Using a small offset spatula or wet fingertips, flatten the balls into thin, 3-inch-diameter disks. Bake until golden brown, for about 8 minutes. While one pan bakes, prepare the batter for the next pan.

When the second pan goes into the oven, shape the first pan's tuiles as instructed below.

Keep going from one pan to the other, forming the batter, baking and shaping. The baking time may shorten as the pans get hot.

To make tuile cups, use an offset spatula to immediately transfer the hot tuile to an inverted shot glass. Gently press the sides of the tuile against the glass to form a cup.

Repeat with the remaining tuiles. If the tuiles harden before you have a chance to shape them, return them to the oven for a few seconds to make them pliable again. You can also leave the rounds flat or drape them over a thin rolling pin to make cradles. Cooled tuiles will keep in an airtight container for as long as 1 week.

Note: To grind almonds fine, pulse them in a food processor. Stop before they turn pasty and start to clump; they should just be very, very finely chopped. Freezing them first helps prevent clumping. You can make these with any type of unsalted nut: pistachios, pecans, peanuts. Just be sure to grind the nuts very fine. Large pieces will cause the tuile batter to tear.

To prepare the Candied Almonds: Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a half-sheet pan with a Silpat or other nonstick silicone baking mat, or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the water into the egg white. Beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Add the almonds and toss gently until well-coated. In a medium-size bowl, combine the sugar and salt. Sprinkle it over the almonds and gently fold into the nuts until they are evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on the pan. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown, for about 45 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Separate the nuts with a fork and let cool completely in the pan. The cooled nuts will keep in an airtight container for as long as 1 week, but are best when fresh.

Makes 4 cups.

To prepare the Butterscotch Mousse: In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and

½ cup of the half-and-half until smooth. Press through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-size saucepan to break up any remaining lumps of sugar. Whisk in the egg yolks and the remaining 1 cup half-and-half.

Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula, until thick and bubbling, for about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla seeds, and rum until well combined. Transfer the pudding to a medium-size bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly against the surface. Refrigerate until cold, for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight. The mousse can be covered and refrigerated for as long as 3 days.

Whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Whisk a quarter of the whipped cream into the pudding to loosen it. With a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream until it is completely incorporated.

To assemble: Pipe or spoon the mousse into the tuile cups, if you made them, or glass cups if you didn't. Top with 12 cup of Candied Almonds, coarsely chopped, and sprinkle with a little Vanilla Salt. Garnish with tuiles if not using tuile cups.

Makes 12 servings.

Chicken Pot Pie (With Crust on the Bottom!)

For the Flaky Butter Crust:

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

13 cup water

½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch dice

2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

For the Pie Crust:

Flaky Butter Crust

1 large egg

1 teaspoon water

For the Filling:

3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil

4 medium-size yellow onions, diced

1 pound carrots, cut in half lengthwise then into ½-inch-thick half-moons

6 medium-size ribs celery, cut in half lengthwise then into ½-inch-thick slices at an angle

6 fresh sage leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 fresh or dried bay leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 quarts unsalted chicken broth

Two 2½-pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces

(2 wings, 2 legs, 2 breasts, 2 thighs)

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

¾ cup flour

¼ cup heavy cream

One package (10 ounces) frozen baby peas (2 cups)

To prepare the Flaky Butter Crust: In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Refrigerate until very cold, for about 30 minutes. During that time, refrigerate the butter, flour, mixer bowl and paddle.

Make sure the butter's cut into ½-inch dice. Bigger pieces will make the dough puffy. In the chilled bowl, combine the cold butter and flour. With your hands, toss the butter in the flour until each cube is lightly coated.

With the chilled paddle, beat the flour-butter mixture on low speed to just break up the butter, for about 30 seconds. Add the water mixture all at once and raise the speed to medium-low. Beat just until the dough comes together in big chunks, then immediately turn off the mixer.

Divide the chunks of dough in half and very gently pat each group into a round 1-inch thick disk. Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, for about 1 hour, before rolling. You can refrigerate the disks for as long as 1 day or freeze for as long as 3 months.

Makes 2 9-inch crusts

To prepare the pie crust: Divide the dough into 8 pieces, flatten each piece into a disk, and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

Place one oven rack near the top of the oven and one near the bottom. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll each disk into an ⅛-inch-thick round. Transfer to parchment paper–lined half sheet pans. In a small bowl, beat the egg with the water. Brush the egg wash over all the dough rounds.

Bake until golden, about 20 minutes, switching the positions of the pans halfway through baking. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

To prepare the filling: In an extra large Dutch oven or a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, sage, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add all the chicken pieces, return to a boil, then lower to heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Begin checking the chicken after 15 minutes; pull pieces out and transfer to a large platter as they're finished. Smaller pieces, like the wings, will be done first.

Strain the stock through a sieve, reserving the vegetables and stock separately, but removing and discarding the herbs. Keep the broth hot.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones and pull the meat into bite-size pieces.

In a very large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the hot stock and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Continue cooking until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, then stir in the heavy cream.

Bring to a boil again, then stir in the chicken pieces and vegetables until well coated.

When the filling is hot, stir in the peas. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Break each pastry round to form two half-moons and place one in the bottom of each serving dish. Divide the chicken filling among the dishes and top with the other half of pastry. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 servings.

Curried Beef Dumplings

For this recipe, be sure to buy thin wonton wrappers made with an egg-based dough, not the thicker dumpling wrappers made from an eggless flour-based dough.

1 tablespoon minced, peeled fresh gingerroot

1 medium-size clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon curry powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon sesame oil

2 large eggs

¾ pound lean (90 percent) ground beef sirloin

1 medium-size sweet red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

1 tablespoon water, plus more for cooking

Forty 3½-inch-diameter round wonton wrappers

In a small bowl, whisk together the gingerroot, garlic, curry powder, cornstarch, salt, sesame oil and 1 of the eggs. In a large bowl, combine the beef, bell pepper and green onions, then stir in the ginger mixture until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a clean small bowl, whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Lightly brush a thin layer of the egg wash on a wonton wrapper. Use a measuring tablespoon to scoop 1 tablespoon of the beef filling into the center of the wrapper.

Hold the filled wrapper in the palm of one hand, and pull the sides of the wrapper up around beef with the other hand while slowly spinning the dumpling in your palm. You should be gently squeezing the wrapper around the beef and pushing the beef up so that it's flush with the top of the wrapper. You're not really pressing the filling, just gently shaping it. The beef should be exposed on top, and the whole dumpling should be in the shape of a wide cylinder.

Place the wrapped dumplings on a wax paper- or plastic wrap-lined half-sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining wrappers, egg wash and beef filling. If you don't want to cook them immediately, cover them tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for as long as 1 month.

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add just enough dumplings so that you can space them 1 inch apart in a single layer. Cook until the bottoms are lightly browned, for about 2 minutes.

Add enough water to come ¼ inch up the sides of the pan. Cover and cook until the water evaporates, for about 2 minutes. Again, add enough water to come ¼ inch up the sides of the pan. Cover and cook until the beef is cooked through, for about 2 minutes more. You can tell when the beef is done when the dumpling feels very firm. If you want to be sure, cut one in half to check.

Transfer the cooked dumplings to a serving plate and tent loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining dumplings. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 40 dumplings.

Rustic Mushroom Tart

¾ cup whole-milk ricotta

½ cup crumbled goat cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

2 teaspoons chopped, fresh rosemary leaves

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

¾ pound mixed mushrooms (such as cremini and shiitake), sliced (4 cups)

1 medium-size leek (white and pale-green parts only), trimmed, cut in half lengthwise then into thin half-moons, and thoroughly rinsed

3 medium-size cloves garlic, finely chopped

Kosher salt

¼ cup dry white wine

1 disk Flaky Butter Crust (See recipe for Chicken Pot Pie )

½ medium-size lemon

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta, goat cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, rosemary and ¼ teaspoon pepper until well mixed.

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat until the butter melts.

Add the mushrooms, leek, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom juices release and evaporate and the mushrooms start to brown, for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and simmer until it evaporates. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll the Flaky Butter Crust dough into a 12-inch round. Slide the parchment paper with the dough on it onto a half-sheet pan.

Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Spoon the mushrooms in an even layer over the cheese. Fold the border of the dough over the mushrooms, pleating the dough every 2 inches. Immediately transfer the dough to the oven.

Bake until the crust is golden brown, for about 25 minutes. Grate the lemon zest directly over the mushroom filling and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

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