CLEO TV’s ‘New Soul Kitchen’ shows how to make quick, easy, healthy dishes

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tv -

Those who like their cook­ing in­struc­tion in small bites – par­don the pun – might want to check out a short-form culi­nary show de­but­ing this week on CLEO TV.

In “New Soul Kitchen,” pre­mier­ing Sat­ur­day, March 16, chefs Jernard Wells (“Food Net­work Star”) and Porsche Thomas (“Hun­gry”) are the hosts of 10-minute episodes that fol­low each as they pre­pare an easy-to-make recipe. All re­volve around a com­mon theme but are ap­proached from dif­fer­ent an­gles, as Wells spe­cial­izes in South­ern cui­sine and Thomas leans ve­gan. So for ex­am­ple in an episode with the theme “Be­tween Two Buns,” Wells pre­pares a smoked gouda cheese­burger while Thomas whips up a ve­gan sloppy joe. And each is done in a five-minute seg­ment filmed in real time with no breaks or time lapses.

“There’s not a lot of room for er­ror,” Wells ac­knowl­edges. “And the thing is, you have to be on point. But cook­ing in real time is re­ally how we want to show (the food prep) be­cause that’s how if you’re at home cook­ing in the com­fort of your home, you’re cook­ing in real time. And we want to teach peo­ple that cook­ing is not a bad thing be­cause some peo­ple are like, ‘Cook­ing? Oh, I gotta go in the kitchen and slave over the stove.’ It can ac­tu­ally be fun and you can do it in a frac­tion of the time.”

Among the dishes on the “Kitchen” menu are Wells’ hot wa­ter corn­bread, smoked tur­key col­lard greens and a smoked four-cheese mac, while Thomas’ cre­ations tend to­ward things like a ve­gan lasagna, a scram­bled tofu break­fast bur­rito and a blue­berry cheese­cake made with cashews. De­spite what ap­pear to be waist-ex­pand­ing foods – es­pe­cially Wells’ meals – both chefs found ways to re­duce calo­ries from their dishes through sim­ple mea­sures such as bak­ing a fried chicken to re­duce fat con­tent.

“It’s the brais­ing method,” Wells ex­plains. “You fry the chicken just long enough to get the crust the way you want it and you fin­ish it off in the oven to ex­tract the re­main­ing grease out of it . ... Be­cause what ovens do is they ex­tract, they de­hy­drate. So if you fry some fish or fry some chicken, you put it in the oven af­ter­wards on an oven rack, at least 40 per­cent of the grease will drain back out of it.”

Both chefs be­lieve there is a lot of emo­tion as­so­ci­ated with cook­ing and Wells main­tains that South­ern cui­sine to him is “cook­ing with love.” Both en­deavor to bring that to the show and their dishes.

“For me, I had so much emo­tional as­so­ci­a­tion with food and so I only make the foods I’ve al­ways loved grow­ing up,” Thomas says. “And I just found ways and played with recipes to find ways to make that same dish but like ve­gan. So it’s def­i­nitely that same idea of putting your his­tory into it and just cre­at­ing that thing that sparked that same thing in you that it al­ways did grow­ing up.”

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