Naperville Eats: Mom ready to take on next cooking contest
By Judy Buchenot Buchenot@comcast.net March 6, 2013 4:04PM
Beth Peterson sprinkles powdered sugar on her Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake, a family favorite recipe. | Judy Buchenot~For The Sun
Chocolate Chip Olive Oil and Almond Cake
2/3 cup of regular olive oil — not extra virgin
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of superfine sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Grease and then line a 9-inch spring form cake pan with parchment paper. Place cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk in the boiling water and then the vanilla until fully incorporated. Set aside to cool.
In another small bowl, mix salt, baking soda and almond meal and set aside.
Mix the sugar, olive oil and eggs with an electric mixer on high for about 4 minutes, until light and airy. Slowly add the almond meal mixture and then the chocolate mixture. Mix well. Pour the batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. After 15 minutes of baking, sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the partially cooked cake. After 45 minutes, cake will look damp in the center and be very moist. Cool and remove from pan. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar before serving.
4 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons powdery grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tablespoon flour
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup of EVOO
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups of arugula
Queso fresco, Mexican cheese
In a medium bowl, toss together the Parmesan cheeses and the flour. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Sprinkle 1-1/2 tablespoons of the cheese into the pan to form a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Cook until the cheese is somewhat melted but not firm, about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the cheese over and cook until it is firm but not taking on any color, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the cheese round from the pan and form into a taco shape using a paper towel. Drape the taco over a cooling rack to harden. To make salad, mix juice of one lemon, shallot, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add arugula and toss. Place in cooled tacos and top with queso fresco. Serve immediately.
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:13AM
Beth Peterson is proud of her Italian heritage.
“My mother is first generation Italian American, and she loved to cook and entertain,” says the 46-year-old Naperville resident. “My father loved to host parties and have the family and friends over.”
After growing up in such an inviting family, it is not surprising that Peterson is also involved with food and entertaining.
Peterson’s career path has taken several directions. She majored in painting and sculpture in college and earned a degree in arts management. She became involved with hosting arts shows and gradually branched into event planning for a software company. In addition, she and her husband opened and ran a Bolingbrook restaurant for 10 years. When their first child was born, the couple decided to get out of the restaurant business and look for a quieter lifestyle.
Peterson continued entertaining and started catering cocktail parties while raising her three children. About four years ago, she saw an announcement for an audition to become the next food network star. She submitted a video and won an audition.
“It was a fun experience,” Peterson says. “The kids were finally old enough that I could try something like this.”
Peterson put all of her energies into entering food competitions and found both a creative outlet and great friendships.
She continued entering, and won a variety of contests and auditions. She was a finalist for the Master Chef contest and spent two weeks in Los Angeles in 2011. She was judged by Gordon Ramsey, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastinach during the competition. Meeting the celebrity chefs was thrilling, but Peterson says she also enjoyed making friends with her fellow competitors.
“The unexpected reward of doing this has been the friendships,” she says. “My roommate in LA and I are still friends.”
Peterson has been a finalist in other contests. She was in Savannah, Ga., auditioning and cooking with Paula Deen for week in 2011. Then in 2012, she spent time in New York City as a finalist in an ultimate host contest. At each contest, she has made new friends.
In between all of the contests, Peterson started Beth’s Table, home entertaining lifestyle cooking classes at Liam Brex in Naperville. She hosts three classes a week and often uses guest chefs.
“The classes start with an array of food to try that is paired with wine or beer. The evening is a little like a party,” she explains. “After seeing what is possible, there is both a hands-on and demonstration-style cooking class. My goal is to inspire people to elevate their entertaining game and not to be intimidated.”
Peterson is open to new cooking possibilities. She has another audition for a cooking show lined up and is looking forward to the creative challenge. Recipes with interesting flavor combinations are Peterson’s favorites. She shares two of her favorites, a twist on a taco and a traditional Italian cake.
Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact columnist Judy Buchenot at Buchenot@comcast.net.