Chef Jeff

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Chef Jeff Henderson reveals how his stint in a prison kitchen transformed his life. He now shares his joy of cooking to help troubled young people. Henderson's autobiography is Cooked: My Journey from the Streets to the Stove.  Henderson's also the author of Chef Jeff Cooks: In the Kitchen with America's Inspirational New Culinary Star. His reality show, The Chef Jeff Project airs Sundays on the Food Network. 

Chocolate S'more Bread Pudding
Serves 6 to 8

3 large eggs
4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup small marshmallows
1/2 cup small bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tsp molasses
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 slices pecan - raisin bread
Vanilla bean ice cream

1.  Whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Add all the other ingredients except the bread and ice cream and stir to combine.
2.  Cut the bread into small cubes and fold the bread into the egg mixture.  Let stand for 1 hour, making sure the bread is immersed in the liquid.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
4.  Scrape the bread mixture into a 13"x9" baking dish.  Bake until the center is set, about 30 minutes.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

1.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat for a low simmer.
2.  Place the vanilla bean in the simmering milk and let steep for about 25 minutes.
2.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a mixer bowl until thick.
3.  Carefully remove the vanilla bean from the milk and scrape the seeds into the milk.
5.  Pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture and stir.  Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until thickened.  Do not bring to a boil or it will curdle.  When you can see a film form on the back of your spoon, it's time to remove the saucepan from the heat.  Let cool.
6.  When the custard is cool, stir in the cream.
7. Pour the mixture into the canister of an ice cream maker and churn until semifrozen.
8.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the soft ice cream into a container and freeze for 24 hours.

Marbled Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Serves 6 to 8
Walnut Graham Cracker Crust
Sweet Potato Pie Filling
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1.  Make the graham cracker crust and sweet potato pie filling.
2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
3.  Beat the cream cheese in a mixer bowl until smooth.  Gradually beat in the eggs and sugar and continue to mix for 2 to 3 minutes.
4.  Turn the mixer off and scrape the bowl.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and beat for 1 to 2 minutes more.
5.  To assemble the cheesecake, pour the cream cheese mixture in layers into the crust while adding spoonfuls of the sweet potato pie filling.  Take a wooden skewer and crisscross the cake to create a marbled effect.  Place the cheesecake in the oven.  On the wire rack under the cheesecake, place a pan filled three-quarters full of water so the cheesecake crust does not double bake.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 45 minutes.

Walnut Graham Crack Crust
Yield one 9 - inch crust
1 1/2 cups crushed honey graham crackers
1/2 cup sugar
1/2/ cup finely chopped walnuts
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Mix the cracker crumbs, sugar, walnuts, and butter on low to medium speed in a mixer bowl.
3.  Using your hands, pack the crust firmly over the bottom of a 9 - inch springform pan.  Bake until the crust starts to bubble up, 12 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Sweet Potato Pie Filling
Yields approximately 2 cups
2 large sweet potatoes or garnet yams, baked or boiled until soft (or one 8-inch can sweet potatoes)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2/ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4/ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk

1.  Peel the sweet potatoes if necessary.  Place them in a mixer bowl.  Add the eggs, both sugars, the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Using the paddle on medium - low speed, beat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Turn the mixer off and scrape the bowl.
2.  On medium-low speed, gradually add the milk; continue to beat until the mixture is smooth.  Set aside until ready to bake.

Music break: Already Gone by Whitsundays