From the Magazine: Last-Minute Picks

by in View All Posts, December 23rd, 2009

White-Bean Soup Shooters

Life as a Food Network extern certainly has its perks…a big one being the chance to taste some of the delicious food that the test kitchens put out on a (several-times) daily basis.

But here at Chelsea Market, recipe testing for the magazine‘s December issue took place back in August, while I was still chopping away in culinary school. Since I missed out on the cookie madness—50 recipes made the cut; dozens more were tested—I’m psyched to bake some of recipe developer Sarah Copeland’s treats for friends and family over the holidays.

Don’t let the culinary degree fool you…I’m always looking for quick, no-fuss recipes to make in my miniature NYC kitchen. We don’t have room for a dining table, so finger-friendly appetizers and desserts are always my friends.

To snack on during impromptu holiday get-togethers, right now I’m thinking about making Ted Allen’sWhite Bean Soup Shooters with Bacon and Crostini with Thyme-Roasted Tomatoes. Ted’s appetizers are great for grazing and look restaurant-style impressive, but the recipes are straightforward as can be.

For libations, I’ll stir up a pair of cocktails in festive Christmas colors, both super-simple: the cucumber-infused Mama’s Little Helper and a strawberry-cranberry concoction called the Wally World.

I’m also intrigued by the Lightened-Up Eggnog; it too may make an appearance this week.

The first but not last batch of Butterscotch Blondie cookies, a perfect snow-day treat.
The first but not last batch of Butterscotch Blondie cookies, a perfect snow-day treat.

Chocolate chip cookies are non-negotiable—I’m leaning toward the Chip Chubbies with big chunks of good chocolate—and for the chocolate-haters in my life (they’re crazy!) I’ll make Sarah’s addictive Butterscotch Blondie variation. Two batches, minimal work—and the best part? Most of the ingredients are already in my (very small) pantry.

–Sara Levine

Duff Has His Cake, Eats It Too

by in View All Posts, December 17th, 2009
"Meat" Duff's cake
"Meat" Duff's cake

What is the one thing the Ace of Cakes has always wanted? A Meat Cake! Dreams do come true: Duff Goldman was presented with a breakfast cake this morning at FN headquarters in New York City, in honor of his birthday.

The icing on the cake: Happy Birthday, Duff!
The icing on the cake: Happy Birthday, Duff!

Skip the buttercream and pass the prosciutto. Happy Birthday Duff! (We included the original diagram in case you want to try this at home.)

–Margie Gilmore and Norina Li

Chefs Give Back: Share Your Season

by in View All Posts, December 15th, 2009

snowflake-cookie
I’m always dazzled at how the holidays bring out the impulse for people to give to others. And I love the fact that the Food Network community takes part in giving good causes, too. This year, Food Network and our partner Share Our Strength are sponsoring Share Your Season, a program that aims to help end childhood hunger in America. As part of the festivities, we asked some chefs to share favorite holiday memories. Maybe Boston restaurateur Chef Andy Husbands’ reminiscences below will spark some of your own-and to share them with others. Enjoy!

Having a four-year-old niece is the best thing ever. I adore Tessa and this year I am looking forward to spending the holidays with her (and, of course, the rest of my family) in Seattle.

Seattle invokes memories of my childhood. I grew up there. It’s where I learned to make doughnuts in the fourth grade, watch my mom make popovers, and spent long days picking blackberries until my hands were stained reddish black with the sweet-and-sour juices of the best berries ever. It’s where I started to develop a passion for food.

Little Tessa loves to spend time in the kitchen with me and I with her. Maybe one day she’ll be a chef, but if nothing else I’m sure she’ll have a love for food, a passion for cooking. She’s fascinated by dough, stirring, and of course anything sweet.

This year I am planning to make sugar cookies with her. I bought ‘gingerbread’ people, snowflake, and snowmen cookie cutters; green, gold, pink, and silver sprinkles; and we’ll make sticky white icing. No matter how they look, they will be beautiful; and whether they are burnt, undercooked or perfectly done, they will be delicious. Because we made them.

This will be the best present I can give my niece. In return, I will have my time with her. Kids and holidays are the gifts that keep giving. . .

I wish everyone the best holiday,
Andy O.C. Husbands
Chef/Owner
Tremont 647
Boston, Massachusetts

gingerbread-cookiesHungry for cookies, thanks to Andy’s inspiration? Here are a few to bake and savor in this week before Christmas.

Eye of Newt, Neck of Duck

by in View All Posts, December 14th, 2009

I don’t dine out much. But recently, upon the advice of Rupa B., I found myself in a wonderful Swiss restaurant, accompanied by mom, dad, and girlfriend. The momdad was in town on a brief visit. Parents and girlfriend were meeting for the first time. Ice was being broken, jokes were being cracked, good feelings were in the air. Menus were passed.

I immediately zeroed in on an appetizer that Rupa had been singing hymns to for months, the dish that in truth, though unbeknownst to anyone else at the table, had landed us there in the first place: braised, breaded, and fried duck necks. Not legs, not breasts, not even livers. Necks. Rupa had described it in its crispy, bony, messy glory as a sort of ennobling of the Buffalo wing, which was more than enough to sell me on it. My mother scanned the menu and honed in on the same. Somewhere a needle spun wildly.

My mother, you must know, is a woman of strong opinions, strenuously expressed. Her moral compass is nothing if not a sensitive instrument. I have known this for 38 years. I have also known that it can chart some very odd courses. And yet somehow one is prone to forgetting. Until something comes up. In a restaurant. Something like duck neck.

I was on the verge of ordering the vertebral morsels when my mom got wind of it and went…BALLISTIC. It was as if the chef had put the contents of his shower drain on the menu under the cynical supposition that someone would be idiot enough to pay for it-and that someone turned out to be her own flesh and blood.

“Ridiculous! $8.50 for DUCK NECK!? There’s no meat in it! This is Depression food! No, worse, shtetl cuisine!  Your great grandparents did not come to America for you to eat duck neck. Leave the duck necks in Kiev! Blechhh!!!”

The notion that a restaurant would show such little regard for its customers as to attempt to serve them the NECK of a DUCK; and worse, the idea that her son would show such little self-regard, would actually encourage the practice by ordering a DUCK’S NECK, produced paroxysms of maternal indignation that nearly derailed the entire evening and resurfaced in blood pressure-raising spasms throughout the weekend. I’ve long been fascinated by the ways different cultures value types and cuts of meat, the ways meaning gets inscribed in meat, such that animal anatomy can be read as a kind of map of a culture. But tonight was not the night to engage in a discussion of cultural relativity, sociology, or the ethics of offal-eating. The duck neck would have to wait.

Until last night, that is, when I returned with Rupa. This time around the menus were unnecessary. We sat at the bar, we drank good ale, and we gnawed our duck necks with extreme relish, in peace and without compunction. They turn out to be extremely, um, skeletal. And delicious.

Mom, you missed out.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Great Garces! Congrats, Next Iron Chef

by in View All Posts, November 23rd, 2009

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When the Chairman announced last night that Chef Jose Garces was The Next Iron Chef, the victor didn’t look battle worn for his winning moment. He looked mighty proud, despite a rough-and-tumble battle against runner-up Chef Jehangir Mehta. He seemed ever so slightly overwhelmed, too—who wouldn’t be? Check out what he had to say about his victory in the clip above.

Garces, the owner of several restaurants in Philadelphia, brings a Latin pedigree with an eye on the world, looking to excite viewers and judges alike as he joins the ranks of Michael Symon, Cat Cora, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto, who will continue to defend their titles in the coming weeks and months. I can’t wait to see what Garces creates with the exotic secret ingredients that come his way, but also what they dream up with familiar ingredients I can use in a new way in my own kitchen.

Much as I loved the drama (for more, see what Alton had to say), I was psyched over the weekend to see Battle Thanksgiving on Iron Chef America—I won’t give away who won in the standoff between Team Morimoto/Cora and Team Flay/Symon, but I know that my Thanksgiving feast will include a cranberry, citrus, vodka and bubbly concoction modeled after what I saw Symon make. Maybe over the weekend I’ll whip up Chef Garces’s signature recipe, too. Next big headline to watch for, Iron Chef-wise, is the upcoming Iron Chef Super Battle in early January. Next big headline to watch for at my house is the upcoming post-Turkey Day battle—who will use Thanksgiving leftovers best?

–Deb Puchalla
Editorial Director

It Came From the Library: Something about Cookbooks

by in News, November 23rd, 2009

For this librarian’s money the must-read article of last week was Adam Gopnik‘s brilliant, lyrical meditation on the pull of cookbooks and what they teach us about desire and disappointment. Though Gopnik at times risks overburdening the cookbook with significance (“Anyone who cooks knows that it is in following recipes that one first learns the anticlimax of the actual, the perpetual disappointment of the thing achieved.”), his essay got me thinking about why it is that this deep into the digital age, with old media fast collapsing around it, with the proliferation of blogs and unending flows of free content/recipes/instruction, the cookbook — the kind you can touch and stain and dogear and shelve, the object -- endures, a bright (i.e. profitable) spot in the beleaguered world of book publishing. And it seems to me that cookbooks have held up so well because as books go there is something fundamentally different about a cookbook. It’s an obvious point, but it’s not simply that a cookbook is also a sort of manual, a tool (plenty of self-help guides fit that description), or that a high percentage of cookbooks are purchased as gifts (it’s tough to wrap a bow around an e-book).

The difference, I think, is not in the uses the cookbook is put to; it runs deeper and relates to how a cookbook is, or rather is not, read. Because in a way we don’t read cookbooks so much as we reread cookbooks. Unlike other forms of printed matter, we return to cookbooks again and again. And in the process a relationship forms, an intimacy results. We need cookbooks on our shelves because their presence matters, because their materiality is a form of companionship, and because nothing the digital age has come up with confers presence, offers a person something they can form an attachment to. Respected newspapers my close, beloved magazines may shut down, but cookbooks, I suspect, won’t be going away any time soon.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

Iron-Clad Interview: The Last Battle

by in View All Posts, November 21st, 2009

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Forget New Moon’s team Edward versus team Jacob, Red Sox versus Yankees or even vanilla versus chocolate. In the green room, we’ve caught up with Mehta versus Garces. You can cut the tension between these last two rivals for The Next Iron Chef with a santoku knife. Not really, since grace under pressure is a quality they share, one that helps make them the only remaining contenders to become the next chef to join the roster at Kitchen Stadium.

Stovemates since the top of the season, Chef Jose Garces and Chef Jehangir Mehta boast innovative culinary styles but also a full menu of Iron Chef qualities, including fearlessness, integrity and a gut instinct for innovation. No wonder the final battle for Sunday night’s season finale (9pm/8c) is between them, a world of flavor with a jolt of competitive spirit. Check out the video above for their take on the competition, portion sizes and how the show has changed their cooking; go here if you want to see what they talked about during a live Facebook chat earlier this week.

Garces, executive chef and owner of several Philadelphia restaurants, says Chef Mehta would bring a “refreshing approach” to Kitchen Stadium. Mehta, executive chef and owner of New York City’s Graffiti restaurant, is equally gracious: “Chef Garces would be an excellent Iron Chef.”

Read more

A Sandra-Style Thanksgiving

by in View All Posts, November 19th, 2009

sandra_with_pie_e
This year the SC is hosting Thanksgiving. One word, people: STRESS. So what could be better than running into the bright-eyed host of Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, Ms. Lee herself, in the elevator here at work? I took the opportunity to ask her for some quick holiday tips. Here’s what she offered:

1. Think smaller. For the turkey, that is – about 10 to 12 pounds. Sandra says, “It’ll eliminate the stress and time it takes to cook a 24 pounder. If you have a larger family, buy two smaller turkeys. Trust me.”

2. Create an edible tablescape. “If you have two smaller turkeys have them book ending your dessert. You could take three premade cheesecakes and put them on top of each other. Spread on a gorgeous cranberry chutney. I like using food as the focal point of my table. Nothing is going to waste.”

3. Try cornbread stuffing. “Cornbread stuffing is a staple in my house every Thanksgiving. I make it the day before. My recipe is so easy! I stuff my bird. I don’t cook the stuffing on the side.”

The cornbread stuffing will be tested in the SC’s personal kitchen tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes. For tips to make your holiday meal delicious, affordable and effortless check out the upcoming Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, Sundays at 12pm/11c and Mondays at 2pm/1c

Eat Well – The SC

Inside Scoop: Bargains for the Highest Bidder

by in View All Posts, November 13th, 2009

dsc041392
Studio A at the Chelsea Market offices regularly changes faces for the filming of Iron Chef America, the Next Food Network Star Finale and a ton of in-the-kitchen shows, from Guy’s Big Bite to Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. But this week, for one afternoon, Studio A was transformed into a kitchen wonderland, a dream world for cooking-enthusiast bargain shoppers. It was a charity auction for Share Our Strength, and it was beautiful!

Studio A as AuctionItems on sale were leftover from shows, equipment from the kitchens and Kohl’s products donated by the culinary department. At high noon, Food Networkers (including Sunny Anderson!) swarmed into the studio and started grabbing (mostly politely) and bidding – small items priced as marked and larger items auctioned off to the highest bidders.
CONTINUE READING

It Came From The Library: On Jonathan Gold

by in News, November 6th, 2009

The restaurant critic Jonathan Gold may have won a Pulitzer for criticism (the first food writer to do so), but I prefer to think of him as LA’s poet laureate. Check out the profile of Gold in this week’s New Yorker (subscription only) and you’ll understand why. Or better yet click on over to the LA Weekly for an all-you-can-read buffet of Gold’s writing. He’s the best.

Jonathan Milder, Research Librarian

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