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To Cook or Buy?

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It’s a question we all grapple with at the holidays: Does it make more sense (economically and otherwise) to prepare the feast yourself, or is it better to opt for the finished product at the store? And what will the guests think? Or the hosts, if you’re the one bringing dessert?

Food University Star Instructor Claudine Pepin has encouraging advice for those on both sides of this hot issue: the holiday meal isn’t just about the food. Whether you cook or you buy, you have to do what’s right for you.

In this Skype chat with Food U host Marc Silverstein, Claudine reminds us the holidays are about spending time with family and friends and enjoying good food – regardless of whether it’s handmade or bought from a store. “If you’re going to somebody’s house to enjoy their company, it shouldn’t be about the food or the gifts that you bring them,” she says. “They don’t expect you to make the wine that you bring – so why would they expect you to make the pie? If it’s a great pie, it’s a great pie.”

Do you agree? Is store-bought acceptable? For more of Claudine’s time and money-saving tips, watch her full interview right here on Food University.

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Claudine Pepin’s Interview with TBO

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Tampa Bay Online talks with Food U Star Instructor Claudine Pepin about how to make cooking easier—especially around the holidays. Claudine also shares some insights on her Food University history—and how TV affects aspiring home chefs

Below are some highlights from the interview. (Read the whole interview here.)

The high holy days of cooking.

Yeah, exactly. I love Christmas, because, heck, I’ll cook then and any other holiday you want me to cook. I’ll be happy to do it. But Thanksgiving is pretty intimidating to people. So I think that for most people I would say come to Food University, come watch us talk and if you have questions about anything we are not doing that you happen to be making, ask us.

This is the time to demystify things.


I’m not a professional chef. People have said, “Chef,” and I look behind me and say, “Where’s my dad?” I am a very good home cook. Please, I’m not putting myself in Julia Child’s category, other than the sense that Julia wasn’t a chef, she never worked in a restaurant. But people knew her as the person who, “If she can do that and have it fall on the floor and still taste good, I guess I can too.”

How did your affiliation with Food University get started?

Their executive producer Richard Gore and I had worked together with Food Network Live. He invited me to be a guest instructor with them. And I was only too thrilled when he explained to me what the reasoning for us teaching was. We are really there to demystify food and say that you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money. If you feel like using tomatoes from a jar or a can, that’s fine. Or beans for that matter. It’s okay. If you look at the back of the can and it says, “Beans, water, salt,” chances are you have a pretty good product. We’re there to say there is no such thing as culinary prison. If there was, I would be there.

I’d be serving a life sentence myself.

Enjoy food. Have fun. Don’t get too stressed out.

With so much food media, especially compared to 25 or 30 years ago, what is it that still mystifies people?

I think that a lot of the people on TV or who write books have been professional chefs. If you come down on Sunday, you’ll watch me cut an onion. I’m like the slow-motion hand. People get intimidated because they say, “I can’t do it that fast.” I’m not going to make my own chicken stock. The recipe says start with homemade beef stock. Really? [laughs] Lots of people are not going to go buy bones to make a beef stock. I say try and find a good one without MSG or too much salt and take away the pieces so that people are not going to make that meal at home because it’s so complicated for them. Honestly, if the first ingredient is 2 quarts homemade chicken stock, they say, “I’d like the next book please.”

“Check, please.”

Depending on who you’re talking to and how they choose to present their ideas on food, because of food media and books have been so pervasive. Everyone is looking for the next new thing. It’s cyclical.

Now we’re talking about organic, have a home garden and grow your own vegetables. Really? Because that’s what my grandmother did.

Before we got away from her and decided she was old-fashioned, that’s what they used to do.

That’s what everyone had to do. You had to eat in season. You have to eat local and eat in season. It’s a revolution.” Really? Because before there were trains, that’s what people did.

It’s coming back to our roots, but coming back in an approachable and, hopefully, not a snobbish kind of way. That’s something that drives me crazy, when people try to out-snob each other. We’re not cardiac surgeons.

Shut up and eat.

So don’t put salt in it. That’s fine.

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Food U Heats It Up In Austin!

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The Food U crew continued their cross country tour over the weekend, this time stopping in Austin, Texas. Food U star instructor Claudine Pepin and Arturo Boada, of Arturo’s Uptown Italiano in Houston, were on hand to share some cooking secrets to the “Bat City” faithful. The lively crowd was given a first-hand look at the basics of food including recipes on fun, easy and healthy meals. Special thanks to the IKEA folks who were more than gracious in providing the crowd with complimentary Swedish meatballs and cheese. The Food U crew invades Cincinnati this Saturday, November 13th. Hope to see you there!

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Food U’s Claudine Pepin: Artichoke Hearts Recipe

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A web exclusive courtesy of Food University star instructor Claudine Pepin. A celebrated chef in her own right, Claudine is daughter of the Jacques Pepin, the legendary TV chef who often collaborated with Julia Child.

In this Skype interview with Food U’s Marc Silverstein, Claudine shares a quick, easy and healthy recipe for artichoke hearts. You won’t believe how easy it is! The recipe is perfect for all of us who are on-the-go, but want to keep costs, cooking time and calories down.

Claudine also shares a preview of her upcoming Food University event in Austin, Texas. Get ready for  an afternoon of all-things-food that’s sure to be fun for the whole family!

Catch Claudine at the IKEA in Round Rock, TX November 6th from 2pm-4pm!

1 IKEA Way, Round Rock, TX 78664

Frozen Artichoke Hearts

-Thaw for 15 to 20 minutes

-Heat a sauce pan on medium with 2 tbsp of water

-Place artichokes into pan, add a tbsp of butter or olive oil, depending on preference

-Salt and pepper for taste


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