By Deborah Pankey
Daily Herald Food Editor
As we all learned during the Cook of the Week Challenge, breakfast cereal isn't just for breakfast. I was so impressed by the savory recipes contestants Jamie Andrade and Michael Lalagos developed when Quaker Oats Old Fashioned Oats came up as a secret ingredient.
The folks at Cream of Wheat want you to know their calcium- and iron-rich cereal is versatile as well, and they've partnered with some all-star chefs to prove it. The line up includes Antonia Lofaso of Bravo's "Top Chef" fame, who created Crispy Catfish Fritters with Red Hot Cilantro Aioli; Donatella Arpaia of Donatella, DBar and "Iron Chef America" who came up with Upside Down Apple Cake, and Claudine Pepin, noted chef and author of "Jacques Pepin's Kitchen: Encore with Claudine," who developed "French-style" Cream of Wheat with Mushrooms and Leeks.
Says Pepin, "When asked to write a recipe for Cream of Wheat, I was both honored and delighted. I had Cream of Wheat a lot for breakfast as a child, as so many people did and do. Then I thought, well, what else can we do with it? In true French Style, I thought of leeks and mushrooms ... they are delicious and inexpensive and make for a great side dish."
Pepin also recommends Cream of Wheat as a coating for fish or a thickener for soups and stews.
Those recipes and more are available for download on the Cream of Wheat Facebook page. For each downloaded recipe, Cream of Wheat will donate one box of the product to Feed America.
Hunger takes no holiday: Some of the suburbs's top chefs will feature their unique cuisine during a Sunday morning brunch at the Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace to raise money for the Agency on Aging's Holiday Meals on Wheels Program. In 2010, Holiday Meals on Wheels provided 30,383 nutritious meals to "food insecure" seniors in eight counties. However, it only met 47 percent of the client need.
Andy Avalos, NBC5's morning meteorologist, will be the Cool Cat MC at 50s-themed event that begins at 10:44 a.m. Nov. 6 with coffee, wine tasting, nibbles from 22 local chefs and a chance to preview the silent auction items. A sit-down brunch will be served at 12:44 p.m.
Tickets cost $100 per person ($90 tax-deductible) -- the same amount it costs to purchase more than 24 meals for at-risk, homebound seniors. Reserve your seat, or make a donation to the Agency on Aging at (630) 293-5990.
Sweet tour: At tonight's Cook of the Week Challenge cook-off, one of the contestants will win an exclusive meet-and-greet with Buddy Valastro, "The Cake Boss," when he brings his "Bakin' with The Boss" tour to the Rosemont Theatre on Nov. 16. Sweet, right?!
If you're not so lucky to be among the competition cooks but want to see Valastro's show, you are in luck. Tickets still are available. Valastro, star of the hit TLC series, takes to the stage at 7:30 p.m. to share the stories behind the stories on the show as well as demonstrate some techniques that have made him one of the country's top cake artists. He even brings an audience member onstage to help out (will it be you?). Tickets cost $23 to $63 through Ticketmaster.com.
Earlier in the day, Valastro will swing by Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville to meet fans and sign copies of his latest cookbook. The signing starts at noon. Anderson's is at 123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, (630) 355-2665.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at email@example.com or (847) 427-4524. Friend her at Facebook.com/debpankeydailyherald or follow her on Twitter @PankeysPlate.